Monday, 2 February 2009

Nicola Morgan Walks The Dog

Nicola Morgan drops in to tell us about the life of a full-time writer, how she copes with doing "nothing" and her latest novel, Deathwatch.

I suppose you think that since I’m a full-time writer, I must spend most of my time writing. Or even maybe half my time, at least. If only!
Do the maths - (don’t worry, I’ll do it for you) - say I’m writing a novel of 60,000 words; and say I write about 1000 words an hour; and say I wrote from 9 – 5 with an hour for lunch, Monday to Friday. I’d finish the novel in a bit more than ….…. eight and a half days. Whereas it really takes me months.

So, WHAT am I playing at the rest of the time? That’s a lot of time to be a “full-time writer” and not be writing. So, you might like to know what’s really going on when my husband thinks I’m working: writing other things (like my blogs, or ideas for a new book, or newspaper articles or reviews); checking or redrafting what I thought I’d finished writing - my publisher has people who do lots of checking and every time they do it they have to send it back to me to check their checking; doing school or festival events , with loads of travelling; boring stuff like ordering printer cartridges or going to the post office; work emails; REALLY ANNOYING things like dealing with my computer when it goes wrong; nice things like answering emails or letters from you; reading - very important for a writer, but a pleasure too, of course. Promotion is a big part too - so I’ll soon be busy promoting Deathwatch.

But even all that doesn’t take up most of the time. There are two more things, which are the biggest parts of my writing life. THINKING and DOING NOTHING. I can’t think of ideas or what happens next in my stories if I’m sitting at my computer, or sitting anywhere. And I can’t exactly write walking around, can I? Wouldn’t want to fall into the canal. But I discovered that there are three things that make ideas come: 1. Walking (that’s where the dog comes in) 2. Cooking (my favourite hobby and I can do it without thinking so it frees my brain for ideas) 3. Ironing (please don’t tell my family this as I pretend I hate it).

What about the appalling DOING NOTHING? Surely I should feel really guilty about it? After all, if someone does nothing at work or goes out for long lunches, they get into trouble. But when you’re doing nothing you actually are doing something - you’re thinking, dreaming, planning, making space for important ideas to come. For a writer, thinking is definitely the most important part of our lives, and we need to make plenty of time for it.
Actually, thinking time is important for everyone. Don’t fill your lives so full that you have no time to dream and wonder and let your thoughts free-wheel. But for me, it’s work too. So, if you see me doing nothing, please don’t worry: I’m WORKING.

Well, that’s my excuse.

Nicola Morgan’s next novel, Deathwatch, is published in June 2009
Author website:
Author blog:
Blog for writers:
Facebook Group: “Nicola Morgan’s Readers”

In Other News...
Publishing houses across London shut their doors today as the capital crumbled under the weight of 3inches of snow. Our friendly publicist friends had to make do with answering emails from the warmth of their duvets whilst supping on hot chocolate...some people have all the luck!

Congratulations to Neil Gaiman (who we did an event with in October) for winning the Newberry Medal in America for his amazing novel The Graveyard Book. The Newberry is the biggest accolade in American children's books!

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