Being a writer isn’t like being a plumber or a secretary. If you’re a plumber or a secretary, you go to work, and you do your job, and after eight hours you go home again and play the xylophone or make beaded curtains or whatever it is you do in your free time. But writers don’t really have free time. Not like other people do. Even the President of the United States goes on vacation, but being a writer is pretty much a 24/7 sort of job. You may look like you’re having free time – shopping, watering the plants, dancing round the kitchen – but in reality you’re working. You’re not just mooching through the stores like everyone else. You’re listening to the conversations around you. You’re not just watering the plants. You’re plotting Chapter Two. You’re not just dancing, you’re thinking about what one of your character’s is going to say next. So if you’re a writer, your work is always in your life. And your life, of course, is always in your work. It’s not just that you get ideas from things that happen or what people tell you or what you read in the paper. If I like something a lot or something makes me really happy, then sooner or later it’ll find its way into a book. Lizards. Motorcycles. Chilli peppers. Yoga. Mexico. Volkswagen Beetles (and the occasional Karman Ghia). Naturally, the same is true of things I don’t like a lot or things that make me angry (you know what you are).

As a further illustration of the intimate (one might even say relentless) connection between a writer’s life and her (or his) work, I write a monthly piece for this site called My Life Right Now... Which gives me the chance to randomly bang on a bit about whatever’s on my mind at the moment.  I’ve come to think of it as the corner where I put the odd thoughts and musings that I can’t fit into the book I’m writing at the moment. Which means I never know what’s going to turn up there next. Sometimes even I’m surprised!


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