Do you write every day? What’s a typical day like for you when you’re writing a novel? These are the questions I get most from readers. Sometimes I want to say–it’s so quiet writing, you’d be bored by the answer. Or, you know the expression watching paint dry? Writing is even slower than that.
If you’re still curious–I’ll try to describe a day in my life as a novelist. Just one day and just one novelist. But I’ll give you an idea.
Wake up at 5:30 and pack lunches for school.
6:00 Wake the kids and run around helping them find shoes / homework / dance bag.
6:30 Eat breakfast and pack my own bag. I leave the front section of The New York Times for my husband, but I take the middle sections.
7:00 Leave the house and start driving.
8:00 After dropping off my son, I head to my office and sit down and try to remember where I left off.
8:00-10:00 I sit and work on revising chapter twenty-six of my novel. It turns out that a lot of writing is rewriting. It’s a recursive process, but somehow each iteration fascinates me. I edit my text on my computer, but I refer to handwritten notes, and a schedule of changes I’ve prepared for this stint. My revision is due on June 30.
While working, I listen to classical music on the stereo. If my work is going well I forget the music entirely.
10:00 I eat a snack and read the “Dining” section of the paper. I particularly love the restaurant reviews.
10:30 Interview with a writer who is preparing a piece for a large coffee table book celebrating the anniversary of Punahou School.
11:00 to 1:00 I start working again. I finish revising the chapter and then eat lunch at my desk. I pack my own every day. My favorite–a nice herring sandwich on toast. (Perhaps this is what it means to be a Jewish American writer).
1:00-200 I revise my work from the morning. And I read “The Arts” section of the paper. I read all the music and theater reviews carefully and cheer for those artists who get good ones.
2:15 Pick up my son and start driving. We listen to Don Quixote in the car. I can’t believe how good Cervantes is. It’s criminal.
3:00-5:00 I return books to the library and rewrite the day’s work completely. Now I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
5:30 Pick up my daughter from dance class.
6:00 I buy groceries and take my daughter to folk dancing.
6:30 I go home and eat dinner and work on gathering addresses for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah invitations.
7:30 I wash dishes, and ask my children if they did their homework, and try calling my son in college, and watch the sun go down.
8:00 I think about planning the next day, making lunches ahead of time, and getting a head start on the next chapter, but I do none of that. I just doze off until
10:30 when I go to bed.
So you see, I’m just like Hemingway–without the bull fighting and the drinking.