Tuesday, 13 November 2018

What Do Non-Writers Do With Their Lives?

By Rosemary Johnson

I’ve often wondered. 

I started writing my historical novel, based around the Polish trade union Solidarity, for NanoWriMo 2015 and I finished the third edit - the one which rendered it readable - only at the end of October.  The idea was to attempt NanoWriMo again this year, but, at the last minute, I chickened out… or made a considered and informed decision not to.  The last few weeks and months of it editing were pretty frenetic, fitting editing into any spare moments - when I was tired, when my shoulders and head ached, and when I just didn’t feel like it.  Certainly, the deadline was my own, but I needed to get there.

Now, I’m facing the abyss, with no other immediate writing projects afoot, and an opportunity to re-join the rest of the human race.  I mean, what do they do with their time?  My husband’s a fanatical musician, either playing himself or listening to music on CD or on his computer, all day every day, so he’s no help! 

I’d like to say that I’m doing useful things, but I made the Christmas cake and mincemeat before the last serious bout of editing and, since I finished, my only household achievements have been to clear out the correspondence tray and scrub out the shower.  Have I perhaps dusted down all the short stories I’ve written for my writing group, which are sitting on my computer doing nothing?  No, Dear Reader.  Have I looked into submitting The Novel to a publisher, self-publishing or marketing?  Not that, either.

I’ve had a heavy cold.  Is this an achievement of sorts?  Perhaps the adrenaline which kept me going through the last stages of editing warded off the germs as well.  I’ve still got the cold and I'm exhausted.  Am I taking a proper rest and break from writing?  No.  You see, I can’t not write.  I’m fiddling about.  I’m drawing up a database of characters for my next novel I intend to write, exploring them, jotting down random thoughts.  And reading, which is pure relaxation, although I can’t help observing the techniques authors use.  I love detective fiction (a genre I could never tackle); at the moment, I'm into Joy Ellis’s Fenland Nikky Galena series.  I don’t half fancy her Christian sergeant, Joseph Easter.  But sssh!  Nikki has a thing for him too.

I am determined that one day soon my book(s) will be on the book table at an ACW Writers Day and at Scargill, and this won’t happen without me doing something about it.  I don’t know what non-writers do and I cannot afford to find out.

Rosemary Johnson has had many short stories published, in print and online, amongst other places, The Copperfield Review, Circa and Every Day Fiction.  In real life, she is a part-time IT tutor, living in Suffolk with her husband and cat.  Her cat supports her writing by sitting on her keyboard and deleting large portions of text.


  1. Rosemary, you have to be kind to yourself. Pace yourself. NanoWriMo is at a daft time anyway just before Christmas, at least that's what I think. January would be a much better time especially for us ladies but I reckon the idea must have been a male one. Get well soon xx

  2. Thanks, Sheila. Life is very hectic at the moment. I'm not regretting not doing Nana. Another year perhaps?

  3. I loved this very human blog post, Rosemary. I loved the idea that, having already made your Christmas cake and mincemeat, you were lost for ideas as to what to do next :)