Why Novelists Make Such Terrible Employees
By Bethany Maines
I once had a job as an illustrator for a physical therapy software company and at some point my passive-aggressive boss sent me an email that said, “You sure type a lot for an artist.” A statement that is, let’s face it, entirely accurate, and also lead to the development of my stealth typing technique. I can’t blame her for being suspicious. I had a set number of illustrations I needed to create each day and after I awhile I figured I could do the minimum number in about half a day and I also figured that finishing my novel would go a lot faster if I did it while I was at work. I called it “Working” At Work or WAW. It must have been amazing how I consistently managed to hit my minimum, and no more, day after day.
I would have felt more guilty except that I strongly suspected my boss had mental health issues, and she already didn’t like me since the day I accidentally blurted out my true opinion on the names of her children. Note, dear readers, that when someone says that her children are named Rainbow and Chrysalis because she wanted names that she “could never say in anger,” you should never respond, “Well, your first mistake was thinking you’d never want to.” Actually, just in general, you should probably engage your brain before speaking – email and let me know how you manage that. I’ve never quite figured it out.
At any rate, I did not keep that job forever (just far too long), but the WAW System served me well from that day to this. Or at least it did up until this year when a friend and I opened our own graphic design business. Suddenly, writing a novel on The Man’s dime is not quite so appealing when I am The Man. Suddenly, WAW means “Whaaaawww, I don’t have enough time.” Suddenly, I’m only four chapters into my latest manuscript. Or to be more accurate, not so suddenly. It’s been months. It’s not like I don’t know what happens – unemployed actress Tish Yearly visits her ex-CIA agent grandfather and ends up investigating a murder. It’s quirky, it’s charming, it’s got a beef cake Sheriff’s deputy. I even know “who done it” even (always crucial in a mystery), and yet, I’m still stuck on chapter four because someone thought doing all the graphics for an 2500 person, black-tie, fundraising event that takes place at our local zoo THIS FRIDAY would be a good idea. Oh, right, that was me. Damn. Ok, but after Friday, it’s all writing all the time. Ok, maybe after Saturday. Some sleep would be nice.