The Writing Job and the Thoughtful Obsessive

I’m not really working on my thesis at the moment. I’m back in Northern Ireland for Christmas and since I’ve handed in a chapter draft, and my suitcase can’t fit many books, I’m taking a break… sort of.

I found this quote on writing (fiction), which struck a lot of chords with me since most of the past term has been spent thinking about writing.

“Treat writing as a job. Be disciplined. Lots of writers get a bit OCD-ish about this. Graham Greene famously wrote 500 words a day. Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch, then spent the afternoon answering fan mail. My minimum is 1,000 words a day – which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick, but I will make myself stay at my desk until I’ve got there, because I know that by doing that I am inching the book forward. Those 1,000 words might well be rubbish – they often are. But then, it is always easier to return to rubbish words at a later date and make them better.”— Sarah Waters.

Writing may be a job, but in many ways it is more than simply producing 500/1000/5000 words a day. Even though I’m technically on a break, I’m reading some Irish women’s fiction (because god forbid I should allow my mind to stray or become polluted). I’m also reading a critical book for review. And I’ve been floating some thoughts around in my head both for my next chapter plan and noted some changes I need to make to the draft I’ve just submitted. I’m making notes on one book I did bring home, and before I get back I’ll need to make a start on a conference paper, plus possibly submit an abstract for something else. I’ve also been finalizing the CFP for an event I’m running on contemporary women’s poetry in Oxford in 2012.

If writing is a job, thesis writing is more like an obsession.

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