A Writer's Life

Some days are just born bad! Who’d be a writer?

Today I got up and stepped onto a foot that greeted me with a case of plantar fasciitis, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a condition in the ligament of the heel. Hence, that first morning step out of bed, feels like someone has driven a nine inch nail through the bottom of one’s foot. It sets the tone for the day.

The Dukan Diet. I cook a big fry up but no-one is hungry so I eat the sausages and eggs myself and kick the kids out to school with just a smudge of cornflakes around the edges.
I work from home, cough. This means that somewhere between the vacuuming, laundry, washing up, ironing, shopping, budgeting and bed-making, I write.

I write therefore I am poor. Six weeks ago I won some stupid competition in a woman’s magazine that will remain nameless, though it is one of the bigger, well-known ones. Two hundred and fifty dollars for twenty-five words or less. Best pay rate I’ve ever had as a writer (all up, I think I made about eight cents a word for my first book) Needless to say I have lately been contemplating becoming a professional twenty-five-words-or-less author.

Now, the “cheques-in-the-mail” line from the bubbly magazine woman had not translated to an actual cheque in my mail box so I email them to ask politely where it might be. The response is that they can’t send me my prize money until I have filled in the Statement by Supplier (form now attached). This was a little bit of information that might have been more useful during the first phone call informing me that “the cheque was in the mail.”

By this time, mid-morning, my skin has broken out in an angry rash of hives all over my chest and upper legs. I am itching to the point of gouging chunks out of my skin, having forgotten the little fact that thanks to a rather nasty tick bite many months ago, I am now allergic to all red meat and that includes sausages. Doh! I gobble down a handful of strong antihistamines, run a tongue over my slightly swelling lips and hope I don’t die before that damned cheque arrives.

I send four business related emails...sorry, I mean resend because I sent them yesterday and still have no response. I suspect the subject line of Invoice puts people off opening them.
I check Face-book and get sucked into that sticky portal and spend almost an hour finding out how I died in my last life and what my hippy name is. Seems I overdosed at Woodstock and my alternative name is Solstice. I can’t help it. That stuff is like quicksand and sucks you in.

The excitement of just releasing a second novel is somehow withered a little by my stumbling upon a luke-warm review by some teenager who can’t string a sentence together. The one five-star review by an eloquent blogger, is always open on my desktop so I can breathe it in like smelling salts to get me through the rest.

Still no return emails, I’m rubbing my red-hot-poker heel on a frozen bottle of water, the hives are beginning to subside but now my eyelids are getting heavy. The anti-histamine is beginning to feel like a preoperative sedative. The sound of running water pulls me out of my drug haze. No Woodstock for me today!

The laundry looks like it’s been hit by a tsunami. Who puts a plastic bag into the laundry sink and leaves it there? I hang the clothes out and one line snaps and a whole row of towels falls in a soggy heap onto the damp grass. Some random noisy miner bird swoops me and just about takes out my eye. The backyard is treacherous and my hives are rising again like bread dough under the heat of the sun. I retreat looking like a leper, feeling like a fool.

I’m on the Dukan diet in preparation for my book launch and so have a chunk of overcooked salmon for lunch with nothing on the side. Afternoon tea is a can of cat-food...I mean ...tuna. Skim milk in coffee feels as unsatisfying as the old withdrawal method of contraception.

I enter two more twenty-five-words-or-less competitions on Facebook and then, toad-stool skin fading, I begin to write something more challenging – a novel set in 1600 Hungary because I am a masochist and clearly want to remain poor. It is two thirty and the kids will be back at three. It’s not what I’d call a productive day. I manage two hundred and thirty words, which if they end up making it to publication (about the same odds as a sperm successfully fertilising an egg – somewhere between 40 million and 1 billion to one) may translate into a potential earn of eighteen dollars and forty cents.

No-one returns my emails. I send myself one from my other email address just to make sure there is no problem. But, it’s not me. It’s them.

As a girl I dreamed that being a novelist and freelance writer would be romantic.

It’s not.

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