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Adam Roberts is the author of a growing number of science fiction novels, short stories, essays and other writings. This site contains not just his blog, but everything you could ever want to know about everything Adam has ever published. And more...

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What Does Adam Do All Day?

By Adam Roberts | May 11, 2018
Categories: Chitchat

Nice photoshop, no?

I'm a writer, so mostly What I Do All Day is write. Since the part I love most about being a writer is the actual writing, and the parts I enjoy least are all the other stuff, working through edits and doing proofs, pitching ideas and filling in my tax returns, reading swingeing reviews without collapsing in a heap, doing events and public readings and so on, this works out pretty well so far as I'm concerned. If you're thinking of becoming a writer, then I say (a) good luck! and (b) check in your heart that you actually like writing, the process of sitting down and putting words on a page, or a screen. Otherwise this profession will drive you mad. A writer is somebody who writes.

Much of my actual writing takes place in local coffee shops, because that's an environment that works for me (there are too many distractions at home: too much washing to be ironed, dishwasher-loading-and-unloading to work through, hoovering to hoover and so on). The occasional who does he think he's kidding? "working on his screenplay" yeah right glance I get from this or that fellow customer is just the icing on the cake. Mornings are mostly when I write new stuff; afternoons and evenings are when I tend to deal with admin and emails and invoices and so on, when I work on revisions and edits and do all the necessary but tedious para-gubbins. Mornings are more fun.

Yes, para-gubbins is a word. Sure. I'm a writer: I know words.

I work seven days a week; if I don't write on any given day it will only be because there are pressing eventualities compelling my abstinence. If you want, for whatever reason, to imagine me at work, then I invite you to impress the following stock-photo image for 'writer' upon your inner eye, which is the bliss of solitude. I look exactly like this. Exactly.

I am a writer but I'm not a very famous or successful one (not very successful in terms of community esteem, and more to the point not very successful financially speaking). But there are many bills to pay, kids to feed and an eye-wateringing large mortgage to service, so I have a day-job, working at the University of London teaching literature and creative writing. Writing, therefore, fills the time when university work doesn't crowd it out. At the moment I am on research leave, and writing All The Day. Next academic year my writing time will be squeezed, but I'll mountain that molehill later this year rather than right now, thank you very much. Sufficient unto the day, and so on and so forth.

One more thing I do, not on All The Days but on at least Some Of Them: I go about. This, generally, is not paid: I'm talking about readings, signings, events, talks, convention panels and so on. There's the general idea that this is 'publicity' and therefore a Sellar-Yateman-esque Good Thing in and of itself: that it leads, let's say, to enhanced sales, word-of-mouth buzz and through them to fame and respect and riches beyond the dream of Croesus. The truth, of course, is that it doesn't. Last month I did an event co-organised by Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton University: I went up, talked, answered questions, shook a few hands. I wasn't paid, and of the twenty or so (nice, enthusiastic) people who came to the event I guess two or three might have been inspired to buy one of my novels, which by itself won't cover the cost of the petrol I burned pootling up and down the M40. Still: nice to meet enthusiastic people. And sometimes I do these sorts of things because they are worthwhile in a general rather than a propel-Adam-onto-the-bestseller-list sense. So: I talk at schools and libraries where I can, to promote literacy and encourage kids who think they might want to be writers themselves. I have a few times gone into prisons and talked to inmates. Next Wednesday, terrifyingly enough, I'm addressing the Henley-on-Thames Women's Institute on the subject of 'storytelling'. That sort of thing. And last week I went to Vilnius and spoke to some very pleasant Lithuanian fans about Tolkien, and (the following day) about Pratchett. There was no fee there either, although the pleasant Lithuanians did at least pay my flight and accommodation. So that's something else I Do All Day, although as I get older, and less excited by the prospect of travel as such, I have, I think, come to the conclusion that I'll do less of it, going forward. Less travel will mean more time to do the main thing I want to Do All Day, which is read. And write.

Over 2018-19 I'll have less time for travel anyway, since I'll be one of the judging panel for next year's Kitschies. I'll need all the reading time I can squirrel away!

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1 Comment so far

One Response to “What Does Adam Do All Day?”

  1. Toby Says:
    May 15th, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    Inspiring stuff. I only write 3 days a week because I'm working, or at university, on the other four. Perhaps that's where I'm going wrong or, more likely, right.

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