As I churned out yet another kilo-worth of words on my novel this morning I got to thinking… I want to be a writer.
I am a writer, of course, but I don’t mean a writer in the real world where the electric company sends you mean letters, the neighbours’ dogs try to out-Whitney each other on a nightly basis, and the toilet constantly hums the theme from UFO.
No, I want to be a ‘real’ writer. You know, the type you see in movies or on the telly.
I want to live in a fashionable New York pad that’s impossibly large with artistic grey walls and decorated with Andy Warhol pictures. Genuine, naturally. I’ll have a stunning view of Central Park and a doorman called “Lou” whom I never see but who makes passes (nice ones) through the security intercom.
For harsh winter months I’ll stay in my pad in LA, or Honolulu. The walls are white and decorated with Robin Eckardt pictures:
Or Elizabeth McGill:
My art feeds my soul. I am a serious artist.
This other life, the one I ought to be living, is massively successful. My books — well into double-digits now, you know — always hit the top of the best-sellers’ list. I routinely receive 7-figure advances just for writing a shopping list. People gasp and bow (I don’t ask them to, but they can’t help themselves) when they hear my name. Sometimes they ask me if I’ve stumbled over any dead bodies recently but I tell them they’re thinking of that old crone from Cabot Cove… I, sir, am an artiste!
I hang out with people worthy of my talent. Updike and Roth tell me naughty stories when they take me to the theatre. Woody insists I approve his scripts before he films even a frame. I have sleep-overs with Margaret (call me ‘Mags’) Atwood and Alice (that’s Ms Munro to you.)
Of course, I take my work seriously. Just like Richard Castle and Carrie Bradshaw. If that means spending more time with my mates in the NYPD or drinking Cosmopolitans until 3am instead of writing, well, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my art.
I’m not afraid of the harder stuff either. If Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) taught me nothing, it taught me how to cut loose.
Of course, I do get writers block from time to time but I seldom throw my typewriter out the window like Lillian Hellman did in Julia (1977)… I mean, I did once, but when you live on the twenty-third floor of a New York high-rise you risk prosecution if you pull such a stunt… more than once. Twice, max.
Even in my fantasy world I have a passion for words. Call me the Toby Ziegler of County Meath. Though it must be said, my favourite quote about writing comes from Get Shorty (1995) “I once asked this literary agent what kind of writing paid the best. He said, ‘Ransom notes.'”
These are the thoughts that occupy me on days when the work is sluggish and the characters are sulky. Well, another favourite quote from the movies is this one from Quills (2000): “You can’t be a proper writer without a touch of madness, can you?”
Sing it, sister.
Must go. The loo has switched from UFO to Blake’s 7…