This week’s guest post is by Paul Lenard. He writes today about the joys and annoyances of being a stay-at-home writer — and the notions others have about him as a result of his job title.
Life of a Self-Employed
I am a writer. But if I tell people that’s what I do for a living, generally the response I get is either a blank look, or something sarcastic along the lines of “Do you write stuff like Twilight?” So these days, I simply say that I’m self-employed.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to sit in a wood-paneled room, surrounded by works of my literary peers, while I sit at a typewriter on an old-fashioned solid oak desk. My days are mostly spent chasing either a small child or the cat round the house, cleaning up after them and scribbling down ideas into the tiny notepad I keep on my person with ‘Keep Calm & Write On’ emblazoned on the front. Only at night does my writing superhero cape come on and I get down to the real task of weaving a tale. Trust me; this isn’t how I thought writing would be.
When you hit writer’s block, , I find that the greatest inspiration isn’t reading a famous novel, watching TV or doing research in a stuffy library. Writers in general are fascinated by people, so when I need a bit of inspiration, I take my small person out in a pushchair and walk around town, along the shops, through the parks, always watching the behaviour of others around me. Sometimes I’ll stop at a cafe and watch out of the window. Once you’ve done this a few times, you start to notice the people walking past and create whole lives for them out of the mere seconds of their lives that you witness.
For example, a young couple walk past. They’re well-dressed in trendy clothes, so they’re comfortable with money and into appearances. They’re walking close to each other but not holding hands, and not talking, therefore they’re fighting. They’re fighting because he wants her to move in with him and the last man she lived with ended up running off with her best friend. Those few seconds of watching them have given me two characters and the basis of a story. I can do this for ages, if I can keep my small person happy and have enough money for coffee. Coffee is the writer’s muse, after all.
use those around me as inspiration. Friends going through rough times (names changed of course), work colleagues, family, anyone is fair game.
After my small person is in bed, the cat has been placated with food and I’ve had my own meal (which costs far less than the cat’s dinner, naturally), I can begin the serious business of writing. Sometimes, if the creative juices aren’t flowing, I’ll read instead. I find it best to avoid reading something from the genre I’m writing about, just in case something subconsciously slips into my writing that isn’t mine. So I read anything I can get my hands on, even trashy magazines about celebrities.
Sometimes this kick-starts me, sometimes not. If it does, I’ll be hunched over my laptop until my eyes droop; writing at night comes easier to me. I’ll exhaust as much as possible from my inspiration that day, and try to weave it into a greater story. Then I can crawl into bed happy. It may not seem like much, but every inch of its mine, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
This post was written by Paul Lenard. He has always been an avid reader since a young age and is an English Literature graduate. He has recently become a father and thus enjoyed writing for kids as well as travel and foreign affairs. He has had short stories and poetry published in competitions.