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February 3, 2011

Melody Carlson: An Average Day in the Life of an Author

Posted by jordana
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This month, one of our Special Features is the book NEVER BEEN KISSED by Melody Carlson. Today, the author takes us through an average writerly day.

An average day, hmmm? Being that I’m a writer, I should be able to make this interesting, right? But to be perfectly honest, an average day in the life of an author is pretty boring. However, since I get asked this question a lot, I will invite you into my private world. (Feel free to bow out as needed.) First, let me explain the setting. My husband and I live in a ponderosa pine forest near the mountains, so although we have neighbors, we do feel like we’re out in the woods. Right now it’s winter, and we have about six inches of snow on the ground, so it’s very cold. For starters, I get up and dress warmly, and with my coffee in hand and yellow Labrador retriever Audrey by my side, I venture out of the house, through the courtyard, and over to my office, which is in a building separate from our house. If I’m lucky, my husband will have shoveled and salted the outdoor stairway that leads to my cozy garret studio.

Once in my office, I turn on my computer and little TV, and I keep caught up on news and whatnot by watching the Today Show while checking my email. I like to think I’m multitasking. Sometimes my email is work related—a publisher needs me to fill out an author questionnaire; or I do an online interview, write discussion questions for a book, or do some editing; and sometimes I do radio interviews. It’s usually after ten by the time I get into the serious mode of writing. I open up the book document I’m working on, skim over the last pages I wrote, and jump into the story. I write until around noon, or whenever it is that my trusty dog tells me it’s time for a break. Or else my walking friend calls and I go out and take a walk.

After a lunch break, I return to my studio and the business of writing. During the afternoon, I go into hyper mode and write, write, write! To me, writing is a business—my job—and I take it very seriously. There are occasional interruptions—I have a private phone line in my studio and a few people know my number, or else my husband will come up to ask or tell me something. However, he knows that when I look at him and continue typing, I am thick in thought, and unless it’s urgent, he should wait. I really don’t like being derailed in the middle of something. But he gets that. Speaking of my dear husband, I should explain that he is also my manager and right-hand man. He keeps our home running smoothly. He knows how to grocery shop and deep-clean a house, as well as how to fix anything. And he does his own laundry. What a guy!

I start to slow down the writing around four, about when Oprah comes on, so I’ll do some more email checking, wind down, and usually return to the house around five. Then my husband and I will fix dinner together. I like to cook, but I’m trying to teach him how to as well. Sometimes we’ll have friends over. Sometimes we’ll go out. But mostly we lead a pretty quiet life out here in the woods with the deer, raccoons, birds, rabbits, squirrels . . . Are you feeling sleepy yet?

So, you see, the average day of a writer is a bit of a snooze. I think it might be because we writers spend so much time chasing adventures in our imaginations. Maybe we need things to be boring.

---Melody Carlson