To launch our Indie Author Month 2014, we’re pleased to welcome back to the blog author and satirist Michael Cargill. Regular visitors to the blog may well recognise Michael from his previous interviews and features where we’ve reviewed his books (see previous features here) – today he’s back to tell us about being an author.
A day in the life of an author
By Michael Cargill
The other day I received an email from a friend complaining that I spend far too much time writing and not enough time socialising. I found myself surprised by the email, initially because I couldn’t help but notice that the apostrophes were in all the wrong places, but as I read through it a realisation began to dawn on me: my lifestyle has become wholly incompatible with how my friends live.
I’ve been an author for nearly three years now and, although the changes that this has brought to my life are dramatic and overwhelming, they have occurred at such a gradual pace that I hadn’t really noticed them until now. Imagine travelling across Europe, absorbing and immersing yourself in all the sights and local cultures as you go, and before you know it you’re dining on racoon goulash and vodka coffee in the Siberian plains like it’s the most natural thing in the world. It’s as if the Twilight Zone has come to life… and by Jove is it effing marvellous.
This morning my alarm clock went off as it usually does and after splashing my face with cold mineral water I had to shoo Apple, my Siamese cat, off of my yoga mat lest he claw it to bits and spoil my chi. Bear in mind that I get up at midnight so there’s always a few minutes of fumbling around in the dark as I try to get my bearings but once all the lanterns have been lit (why do the matches never seem to be in the same place that I left them?) I’ll spend a few minutes doing leg stretches and finger exercises before stepping into my sun-blushed slippers and unlocking the door to my office. I sit down, make myself comfy, and check with Roald Dahl to see if anyone has sent me any important letters, fan mail, or ideas for future stories, all of which happen with surprising regularity these days. Although he has something of a high pitched voice and an annoying tendency to ramble on a bit, the great man does an important job for me so I patiently wait for him to finish. Just to clarify, Roald Dahl is the name I’ve given to my fax machine and may God bless his noisily efficient soul.
With all the boring admin and paperwork out of the way, I’m free to move onto the more interesting things that the modern world has blessed us with. If it’s a Wednesday I’ll fire up the laptop and connect up to one of those online elearning portals that are all the rage these days. Although Sting and his wife have developed something of a reputation for bad time keeping, their tantric sex meditation sessions are worth their wait in gold so I just sit tight until they’re ready to get things started.
When that palaver (finally) finishes my other alarm clock goes off to remind me that it’s 6am and the local coffee shop will be opening up for the day. After popping down on my scooter I’ll order a strawberry latte and, depending on how hungry I’m feeling, maybe even an apricot croissant.
By the way, does anyone else’s coffee shop sell those overpriced wafer biscuits? £3.50 for a flimsy hazelnut cream snack? No thanks, not when I’ve already got a bag of Melba toast in the kitchen cupboard.
Anyway, the barista is a pretty girl from Romania who pronounces the silent ‘p’ in the word receipt and I’m sure she’d be thrilled to learn that she made a brief appearance in one of my books… and the three year old girl in a pushchair who pulled a blanket over her head when I poked my tongue out at her, she’d be tickled pink to hear that her shyness planted the seed for an unwritten story that has been bouncing around in my head for the past six months or so.
There’s also the teenager in baggy jeans and oversized baseball cap who, even though I only caught sight of him for a few seconds on the London Underground, gave me the idea for the as yet unpublished short story that is currently sitting pretty on my external hard drive. And the woman in black tights who was sat cross-legged in her chair, completely oblivious to the fact that I was staring at her as she casually bounced a loose shoe off the end of her foot… she’d probably think I was an oddball if she knew that her slender thighs were the inspiration for a short scene in a book I published last year.
Once I’ve had my fill of coffee and grown bored of observing the actions of people minding their own business I’ll scoot back home to check my sales ranking. I load up the Amazon page, enter my password, and OHMYGOSHASALE! This is wonderful, it’s been ages since someone expressed an interest in… hold on, they went and got a refund shortly afterwards. How dare they do such a thing, that’s… that’s just plain unfair.
If only I could hold down a regular 9-5 office job.
About the Author: Living in England, Surrey and about to break the 33-years old barrier. I can honestly say that coming to terms with getting older is worse than puberty. At 14 every extra hair was greeted with rapturous applause and a desire to show it off at school. Every time a small breeze blew I would worry that it was going to blow away.
These days whenever I spot a new nasal hair I can hear it laughing at me. I even have to make use of electronic devices to prune it back.
Want to know more? Check out the links!
Blog – http://michaelcargill.wordpress.com/
Twitter – @MichaelCargill1 Facebook
Great and witty, post Mr Cargill.
Your author picture always startles me a little, since you look exactly the same as a teacher I see daily. She even agreed when I showed her your snap.
More seriously, I love your sense of observational skills. A shop assistant I saw obsessively stretching her sleeve with her fingers ended up in one of my novels as well.
To be honest that picture has a tendency to startle me as well, especially when I’m not expecting it.
It’s quite bizarre how seeing someone do something completely innocuous can suddenly get my brain buzzing.
Very funny! Joking aside though, it really does impinge on your social life! My friends know not to invite me to lunches or coffee dates when Im in the throes of wrestling down the finale to a book. And when I am there, I often may as well not be, as I conduct private unheard conversations with my characters in my head instead of engaging with the real people around me, lol! So yes, I know exactly what you mean…incidentally, how did you respond to your friends email?
This was a brilliant post, Cargill! As Tony has said, very witty. I think it’s awesome that you didn’t go about answering this question in a stereotypical way, but then again, I suppose that’s why you’re a writer. 🙂
Have missed you around the blogosphere lately, has life been busy?
Thank you Becky, glad you liked it! To be honest if I tried answering this question ‘properly’ it would just bore the Christ out of me.
I haven’t really been particularly busy, no, but I’ve gradually been posting less and less stuff on my blog over the past year or so. Whether that’s because I’m concentrating more on my more ‘serious’ stuff or because I’m simply running out of steam I couldn’t really say… but the two are probably related.
I’ve actually finished what will be my next release but I’m leaving it on the shelf for a few months or so before going back and doing any editing. This is very different to how I’ve done it in the past but it was something that Tony recommended on your blog aaaaaaages ago, so I’m sort of on a break at the moment… although during this ‘break’ I’ve written two short stories and have started work on what is my first ever foray into writing fantasy.
Plus I bought meself one of those new Xbox consoles so I’ve been playing on that quite a bit.
Hahaa, oh of course, I wouldn’t want to cause you to bore yourself, LOL.
All right I see, that’s fair enough. 🙂 I just was hoping that everything was okay on your end and it wasn’t because of anything bad. I do tend to find blogging ebbs and flows, you go through stages where you can write tonnes and then not at all, and I do usually find that coincides with life events or outlooks so that would make a lot of sense.
Ooh wow that sounds exciting, you have been writing up a storm! I can’t wait to hear more about this fantasy book, as you know it’s my favourite genre. Also, I’m reading A Game of Thrones at this moment in time which I’m sure you will be pleased to hear!
Xbox rules. Playstation drools.
Ah, good to hear you finally jumped on the GoT bandwagon.
How far into it are you?
165 pages to be precise! I started it yesterday and I’m just a tad addicted already.
Yay, I was first!
I did a double take at the ‘About the author’ bit as I barely remember writing it – I recently limped my way through the 35-year old barrier.
I think it was missing off the stuff you sent through, so in true lazy-admin style I copied and pasted from an old feature. The 35 barrier can’t be that bad – surely you just spring over it, like a young lamb? Limping must come around 70/80?
Great Guest post! The life of a writer might not be socially accepted, but where would the fun in that be? As long as there’s coffee, everything is okay.
Thank you Hazel, glad you enjoyed it!