After reading Gilt earlier this year and loving it, I am pleased to welcome the talented and amazing, Katherine Longshore! She has kindly stopped by Author Appreciation August to share with us ‘A Day In The Life Of A Writer' guest post. Hopefully this will give you a better insight into the author life and how much time they spend writing the books we love to read, which will overall, help readers appreciate authors even more! Ladies and gentlemen *drumroll*, KATHERINE LONGSHORE!
A Day In The Life Of A Writer
I love the mornings when I wake up with a character or an image or a story solution in mind. The mornings that I have to get up and scribble something down – before I even have my first cup of coffee. These are the days that I know that the Boys in the Basement (a phrase coined by Stephen King) have been hard at work while I slept.
But on usual days – average days – I get up, make a cappuccino, and sit down immediately to emails and social networking. I tend to get distracted a lot in the mornings, with my family coming and going, and can’t keep a single train of thought for very long. I can just about handle 140 characters while the dog is barking and breakfast dishes clatter and someone asks me where the clean socks are.
Once the house is quiet, I shut everything down. The dog goes to sleep, the washing machine hums quietly in the garage, the dishes get left in the sink, the Internet turned off. I make myself another cappuccino and engross myself in the 16th century for – on a good day – a three-hour stretch.
My characters were almost all real people (in fact, in Book 2 and Book 3, they are entirely real people). But because written history of the period gives us little but loosely-strewn facts and anecdotes with agendas, we can’t really know what these people were like. So I spend a great deal of my writing time “getting into character.”
I come from a theater and acting background, and studied under an adherent of “Method Acting”. Method acting is defined by Wikipedia as “any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances.” I use these same techniques – many including emotional recall and sense memory – when I write. Method Writing. I put myself in my character’s shoes and try to feel and think and believe like my characters. I invent the possible reasons for their documented actions, and for the impressions they made on others. I’ve been known to stand up and move around the room to get their actions right, to get the feel of a wall at my back or the view through an almost-closed door. This part – this complete invention and immersion – is what I love most about writing.
If I’m interrupted during this time – say, the phone rings – it takes me ages to come back to reality. I don’t remember what day it is – sometimes I even forget the year. Often I forget to eat.
Some days my writing sessions are a little more prosaic. I can spend hours researching events. In fact, before I start a new novel, I spend days – even weeks – reading and taking notes on index cards. If I need details for a certain scene, I turn to Google. For instance, recently I wanted to get the name of a song for my character to sing. By Googling “16th century French songs” I came across a composer who fit the time period. With that name, I discovered a myriad of songs and lyrics and even went onto YouTube to listen to modern recordings of his songs. I found translations (because the songs were in French and Italian) and after about an hour, I knew the exact song my character would sing, and how the person listening to her would react. It all happens in about six lines in the book, but the amount of research that went into it was absolutely worth it.
I write every day. I’m not one of those authors who can spend the morning writing Book 3 and then the afternoon revising Book 2, however. I can only concentrate on one character and storyline at a time. So over the course of a few months, I often have to switch gears – draft Book 3, promote Book 1 (GILT), revise Book 2, draft Book 3, and so on. The actual switching part can take me two or three days while I stumble around trying to get my bearings. But the days that I don’t write at all, I feel like something’s missing.
I’m a working mother, so I also spend much of my day doing laundry, cooking meals, being a taxi driver, paying bills, cleaning bathrooms, etc. etc. etc. I get out into the fresh air every day – I walk the dog, go for a run, fly a kite. I spend quite a bit of time answering interviews and doing guest posts for amazingly talented and dedicated book bloggers. I prepare for speaking engagements and make Power Point presentations for library visits. And at the end of the day, I love to sit down and watch BBC costume dramas and literary adaptations like Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice (and I absolutely adore Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch).
I love what I do so much I can’t bring myself to call it a “job,” even though it’s what I do and I get paid for it. It’s my work, but it’s not work. It’s difficult and it’s emotional and sometimes I despair I’ll ever make a deadline, but I love it. All of it. And I am eternally grateful to readers like you who make it all possible. Thank you.
A MASSIVE thank you to Katherine for stopping by and for sharing this amazing guest post! If you loved Gilt and are a fan of Katherine, make sure you take the time to appreciate her!
Giveaway!Don't forget to go enter the AAA giveaway! It's open internationally, and there are DOZENS of books to be given away!