Some of you have asked for a description of my typical work day. I haven’t written about it because there isn’t one. Maybe that’s because I’m not a very well-organized person. Even though I’m highly attracted to the allure of structure and regimen, I rarely am able to live by it more than a few minutes.
But since I can’t think of anything to write about—and I currently have a dearth of questions from you guys—here goes.
Depending on what I’m doing, sometimes I go in to the office to work; sometimes I telecommute and work from home. Today is a work from home day, partly because I want to catch up on some query and manuscript reading. That’s easier to do at home, where I have easy access to hot chocolate and candy. Plus I can scrunch up on my couch and hang my head backward over the edge of the seat. This position sends plenty of blood to my brain, facilitating good solid literary analysis and encouraging hair growth.
7:00 a.m.—Start my work day. Check my e-mail to see if any of my authors have like, gone crazy or something over the weekend. No. Good. But I have 6 spam messages, a potential author checking on my progress in reading their manuscript, and a tirade from my daughter arguing about who was right: dooce or Kensington. Just as I’m about to hit send on my reply to both author and daughter, my internet goes down. Unplug and replug everything and messages go out. Then I take a kid to school.
8:00 a.m.—Go to open submissions file (Excel) where I track who sent what and when and all that, and I hit the Word icon instead. That’s okay, because I wrote some rejection letters over the weekend and I need to print them out and mail them anyway. However, instead of bringing up an empty document file, it brings up a file I backed up last time I used it. That’s weird. I click on the Open New icon and it brings up another copy of that same file. Again. And again. Uh-oh. Do I have a virus? Run my virus software while filing some contracts and organizing my desk. Nothing shows up. Can’t deal with this, so I’ll just ignore it.
9:00 a.m.—These aren’t the rejection letters I wrote last weekend. I think I mailed these already. Not sure. Now here’s a dilemma. Do I print and send and hope I didn’t do that already? (Note: If everyone sent a SASE, it would be easy to match them up and figure this out. Look at log. Neither of these authors sent a SASE.)
9:05 a.m.—Phone rings. Confirming an appointment later this week.
9:10 a.m.—Phone rings. An author who has been working on a new book for the past 6 years tells me they’ve decided they don’t want to finish it. They have lots of really good reasons. And lots of ideas of what they want to write instead. Whatever. Send me an e-mail.
9:30 a.m.—Leave for doctor’s appointment. The other reason I am working from home today. :(
11:30 a.m.—Back home. Okay, which item in this vast pile of slush do I need to look at next? Do a fast sort into “Rejections” and “Maybes”. Okay, ready to start…
11:45 a.m.—Phone rings. Another author: Where is my royalty check? Shouldn’t it have arrived by now? I really, really needed it by this weekend or… (Like I can just wave my magic wand and get it to them.) Okay, I’ll see what I can do. (Wish my mother had not ingrained courtesy and politeness so deeply into my psyche.)
Check in at the office. Checks are going out tomorrow. Get involved in some other conversations with office staff. Get sidetracked by a printing project that was supposed to be finished today and is not. Have no idea when they will be done.
That reminds me of another project I need to finish. Darn! Completely forgot about that one. Well, they aren’t on the phone yelling at me yet, so maybe I have some time.
1:45 p.m.—Author calls again: Have I found out about the royalty checks yet? Listen to financial woes. Wish I could tell them my own financial woes. Could match her toe to toe, and then some—I’ve got teenagers and kids in college and my husband is home from his job today because his car won’t start…
2:00 p.m.—Where is that reading pile? Now, where was I? Should I read first, or write more rejections? Drop my pen and bang my head on the desk picking it up. Throw pen across the room. Throw a couple of other things too, just for fun. What is wrong with me? Oh yeah, it’s way past lunch time. I tend to get cranky when my blood sugar is low.
2:45 p.m.—During my lunch break, my daughter called from the dentist’s office. She had to have a root canal this morning because she fell at work a few weeks ago and banged her mouth on the trash can. Turns out, the tooth died and is turning dark. That stress just sucked up all the sugar I had from lunch! And I’m out of candy.
3:00 p.m.—Phone rings. Another author: Do you have my press kit ready yet? And have you talked to XYZ Bookstore? Are they going to let me do a signing? And what about this conference on Saturday? (This is the first time she’s mentioned it to me) Are you going to be there? Are you going to have a booth and FEATURE ME? I try to explain that it will cost me $200 between booth rental and man hours to be at that conference and the chances of me selling more than two of her books is worse than the proverbial snowball’s. She’s mad.
3:41 p.m.—Teen-age daughter is home from school. Wants to borrow my copy of The Scarlet Letter because the school’s copy is falling apart. I have to check five bookcases before I find it.
3:45 p.m.—Pick up the packet that is on top of my stack of unread submissions, start reading.
3:47 p.m.—Phone rings. It’s the printer about that job that’s not done. What kind of paper did I want for the cover? (The same kind we’ve used the last four times we’ve had you print it!!!)
4:05 p.m.—Where was I. Oh yes, page 1, second paragraph.
4:11 p.m.—Phone rings. Another author. Proposing another book idea. Okay, let’s see…we’ve published one book by you. It’s doing okay. But I’d really like to see the other three proposals you’ve already run past me before you hit me with this fourth one. Yes, I know you’re creative. Yes, I know you have so many ideas you can’t sit still and work on any one of them. Fine. Whatever. Send me that proposal too—if you ever get it done.
4:25 p.m.—Page two, first paragraph. Good thing I read really fast. Too bad this one isn’t going to make it.
5:00 p.m.—Daughter drops by the house to show me her newly root-canalled tooth. She can see a difference between the lovely shade of off white of her still good front tooth and the lovely shade of off white of her now dead front tooth right next to it. I can’t. She turns on a light. Then another one. I still can’t see a difference. Daughter leaves to go back to college. I won’t see her again until December.
5:20 p.m.—Phone rings. Another author. Geez, I give up. Move the slush piles from my desk back to the cabinet while she’s talking. Finish filing the rest of the paperwork from earlier while she’s talking. Look at my calendar and update my To Do list while she’s talking. (If you’re wondering why I don’t just hang up, it’s because she’s my current best-seller and I’m listening to her worries about the book she’s working on now. Whatever it takes to get that next book.)
6:00 p.m.—Start writing this blog.
6:15 p.m.—Teen-age daughter walks into my office and with a dramatic sigh falls down in the doorway. She hasn't moved in the past 15 minutes. I think she’s trying to tell me that she needs some attention. Or that she likes The Scarlet Letter almost as much as I do.