The official website for Tessa Barrie and her Alter Ego, Sally Edmondson, or is it the other way around? Home of the forgetfully funny Dotage Diaries and squibs about my life to date and how I've survived it.

A WRITER’S LIFE – What have you been doing all day?

There are two most annoying things that happen during a writer’s day …

  1.  As the family leave the house during the school/working week, they shout just as they are going out of the door. ‘Don’t work too hard.’
  2. When the family return home after their working day, the first thing they ask is ‘What have you been doing all day?’

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There’s another very annoying question that writers are frequently asked by family members who creep up on them whilst they’re ‘working’ in that hallowed and solitary place we call our Writing Space.  Unannounced, without knocking, catching you with chin resting on your hands, staring at the screen and say I thought you were supposed to be writing?  I would just like to say that when caught hands off keyboard it means we are searching for words to extract;  we are editing; we are reading through our work to see how it can be improved.  And, in my case, searching for alternative forms of expression to replace the clichés.

I have been in this enviable position of ‘not working’ for around two years and five months after having been made redundant.  

Sarah Foffke

During that time I have honed my work-in-progress to around 85,000 words and I am proud of my achievement. I know less is more and I am working on that.  I will challenge myself to NaNoWriMo next year, but have an overwhelming desire to finish what I started in June 2015 and would like to quell the unfounded rumours that I sit at home and do nothing all day.

So for all the doubters, here is how my average ‘working’ day pans out:

Daybreak to 1.00p.m.    

Start writing, caffeine break, write some more, another caffeine break, write.  The family leaves to go to their proper jobs, reminding me that umpteen things need doing around the house.  Have a cursory look at the skirting boards.  I can’t see any dust, so have no idea what the fuss is all about. Carry on writing.  Get up, bath, dress, contemplate naval for meditative purposes and lament state of steroid inflated stomach.

Put on a load of washing, have another coffee and return desk.  Stare out of the window.  Should take the dog for a walk, but I can see a grey cloud looming, don’t want to get wet, so promise dog I will take her later.  Feed cats. Ponder over cliché substitutions.

1.00p.m. to return of the workers

Visually assess the state of weeds in the garden.  Not in the mood to get dirty.  Take the dog for a walk.  Feed dog.  Sit at desk, gazing at the horizon hoping for inspirational plot twists to pop out of the ominous looking skies, but end up trawling the internet.  Esther the Wonder pig is sick and I am very sad about that.   Check emails.  No offers or proposals, but there is a message from Animoto introducing me to some new styles.  So spend two hours making a 2.43-minute video, A Day in the Life of a Random Blogger.

I should address my finances but don’t want to spoil the day.  Whilst fantasing about sending current work-in-progress off to someone who’s not going to relegate it to the slush pile, I realise it’s 4.30p.m. and I have forgotten to take the washing out.  Quickly hang it up then rush around with the hoover and do a cursory clean of all very dusty skirting boards.  Rush outside, pull up a couple of gargantuan weeds.  Throw contents of the casserole into a pan and breathe, just as the front door opens.

“We’re home … what have you been doing all day?’

Karl Mishma


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