Sarah Cawkwell

A Day in the Life – by Sarah Cawkwell, age… somewhere in the higher numbers, let’s leave it there.

When Caroline approached me to write a ‘Day in the Life’ type article for the practice, I was:-

  • Confused, because my life is actually pretty dull;
  • Flattered, because I’d mentioned to Caroline during my last visit that I am a published science fiction and fantasy author and clearly this had made an impression;
  • Confused, because my life is actually pretty dull.
  • Did I mention confused?

At first, I had this ridiculous notion of presenting a Day in the Life of one of the characters from one of my books, but given that most of them are eight foot tall, heavily armoured Space Marines, I thought it might be a bit repetitive. To demonstrate:

0600 Monday – 2000 Sunday: Smite heretics in the Emperor’s name

2000 – 2100 Sunday: Watch ‘Call the Midwife’

2100 Sunday – 0600 Monday: Smiting continues.

So instead, here’s an actual day in my life. But be warned. The rock and roll lifestyle of an author can sometimes be exciting, but most of the time, it’s just… life.

0640 – What’s that incessant beeping, interrupting my dream about inflatable slides? No, alarm. No. Go away. Don’t wanna.

0710 – Drag self reluctantly from pit. Do breakfast. Do tea. Perform ablutions (yes, including the ritual Brushing of the Teeth. Nobody needs a night’s worth of tongue fuzz settling into place for the day).

0800 – Drive to work. Because alas, freelance authoring is not going to pay the bills. I work for the NHS, in Contracting and Income. It really is as dull as it sounds, so to spare you the details, I’ll just skip the actual work bit of it. Short version: spreadsheets, databases and bears, oh my. Only with less bears.

1630 – Drive home from work. I know. Exciting, right? Actually, I enjoy the drive to and from work. It’s rare time to myself when I contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Ponder the unanswerable. Things like ‘where does your lap go when you stand up?’ Or when I’m feeling REALLY daring, ‘why is every occurrence of the letter ‘C’ pronounced differently in ‘Pacific Ocean’?’ (Admit it: now YOU are wondering about that, too, right?)

Evenings – This is where the reality bites. If I’m writing a story, I settle down and make myself achieve the absolute minimum daily word count. I hold very much to the theory that for every bad day when I can barely eke out 1,000 words, I will have a blinder of an evening where I churn out 3,500. This theory has always worked and I learned, very early on in the process, not to push it. It builds resentment, resentment builds anger, anger builds stress and stress makes stomach acid that’s bad for your teeth (another dental reference, do I get points?)

I mostly do short stories these days, I wrote three novels back-to-back over the course of 18 months once and juggling that with full time work and raising a son almost made me implode with stress. See above.

The rest of the evening will pass in familiar fashion: The Husband™ will return from work, we will do the eating thing and then chill out in a variety of different ways. I love to read (when I’m not writing), but I’m also a self-confessed video game addict. It’s a good thing in a way: my son, who is presently away at university, also plays video games, so we frequently team up and spent quality time together destroying a variety of fictional universes while chatting. It’s an unconventional way to keep in touch, I know, but if it works, don’t shrug it off. Apparently when he went to university, he also lost his ability to communicate in any other way, so I chalk spending time with him in this way up as a win.

Every night one thing is absolutely the same. Around 11pm, I’ll say something to the effect of ‘going to have an early night tonight’.

I never do.

Usually roll into bed around midnight (after the evening homage to the Gods of Tooth Brushing). Sleep, rinse, repeat with little variation except for weekends, when my plans to have a bit of a lie-in are thwarted by a demanding cat.

So there you have it. A typical day, usually altered only by external factors such as traffic delays, chronic weather and computers refusing to cooperate.

How was YOUR day?