Author: 10 jobs rolled into one
While the literary world is abuzz with praise for his debut novel, What She Left, T.R. Richmond tells us just how many jobs a writer has to do
Writers don’t just write – they have to do everything from basic IT to advanced law. And that’s even before working out the benefits of listening to whale music. T.R. Richmond lists the professions you’ll need to be proficient at.
T.R. Richmond is an award-winning journalist who’s written for local, regional and national newspapers, magazines and websites. His debut novel, What She Left, presents a ‘whodunnit’ with a twist, a coming-of-age tale of a complex young woman, brought back to life using a very original and contemporary structure of Facebook posts, texts, tweets, diary entries, letters and exchanges with friends.
You’re either skint and have to budget every penny or make money and are faced with a mountain of tax-related paperwork. You can pay an accountant to do this for you, but they’ll basically get you to do it, then ask you to sign a form saying you’ve done it right. Then they’ll charge you. HMRC is no longer just an acronym.
Bad backs are as much an occupational hazard as failing eyesight and raging paranoia. Hardly surprising, with all those hours hunched over a computer. We don’t go to see an expert – we research our symptoms online, half-heartedly do some exercises, then return to our preferred default position: suffering martyr.
3. Shift worker
No one ever said this would be a 9-to-5 gig, did they. That’s not what your contract says. Hang on, your contract doesn’t make any mention of hours – it gives you a date to deliver a manuscript by. If that means pulling a few all-nighters, so be it.
4. Public speaker
Thrust suddenly in to the spotlight, you’ll have to explain why you write. That the easy bit. Questions like “Can you tell me how to write a bestseller?” and “Will you read my manuscript?” are harder to field. The opening question at a bookshop event I once did was: “Does that shop on the corner sell food?”
If you’re lucky enough to see your work published in foreign languages, you’ve got a problem. There’s only so much putting a review through Google Translate will tell you. Say it’s published in Holland and Denmark and respective reviews dub it “prachtig” and “lort”. You might want to share the former, rather than the latter.
6. Online and social media guru
From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube to LinkedIn, you’ll become a dabhand at “connecting”. And when it comes to finding a WiFi signal, you’re like a Pointer dog on a grouse: you can sense one at 100 paces. That said, IT issues will still fill you with fear, none more so than the spectre of viruses. They’re like myxomatosis was to rabbits in the 1950s – they can wipe you out.
It might be positive thinking (you can write this book). It might be relaxation techniques (whale noise CD, anyone?) It might be “mechanisms” for not letting failure crush your confidence or success turn you into a pompous parody of every bad writer ever depicted in fiction. In short, you have to learn to stop being yourself.
8. Time-and-motion official
We all know that sometimes anything can feel preferable to knuckling down and tackling the job at hand. Even cleaning the bathroom becomes appealing. But you have to strip out inefficiencies from your routine, which means erasing procrastination, distractions and time-wasting. Trouble is, without those things there might not be much left in your day.
Contracts can be mind-bogglingly complicated. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an agent to help you understand the detail. Otherwise, gird yourself. You’ll experience a kind of snowblindness by the time you’ve got to Clause 427, section E, subsection 2, addendum b (ii).
10. PR practitioner
Talking to journalists can be scary, but you get more confident at it. They’ll want to know what’s sexy about the book and about you. Ideally, you’ll have a dazzlingly interesting backstory – maybe a former city highflier who became a singer-songwriter before getting addicted to prescription drugs then becoming a monk and eventually retraining as an experimental chef in the west country. Sadly, I’m none of these things…
Alice Salmon young, smart, ambitious - with her whole life ahead of her. Until the night she mysteriously drowns. Nobody knows how or why. But Alice left a few clues: her diary, texts, emails, and presence on social media Alice is gone but fragments of the life she led remain - and in them might lie the answer to what really happened to her.