Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Writer is Always Working

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A Writer is Always Working

Like most writers, I have to work other jobs to support my addiction to playing with language and making up stories.

That basically means I'm always working. I'm working whenever I'm clocked-in at one of my shift jobs, and I'm working on writing as soon as I walk out the door.

One of my biggest pet peeves is the assumption that writers have loads of free time on their hands. They don't. If you see a writer walking down the street, sitting on the TTC, eating lunch, buying groceries, or staring off into space, chances are that writer is working. Writers don't simply 'switch on' the moment they sit down and begin putting words on a page, then 'switch off' when they stop. Writing is a cerebral job. Most of the work is done in the brain. What ends up on the page is the result of hours and hours of excruciating thinking, plotting, amending, and second-guessing.

And inspiration, that elusive bastard we sometimes call The Muse, is like an infant child in the middle of the night, crying and screaming for attention at the worst possible time.

Allow me to speak for grumpy writers everywhere when I say the following: when I'm sitting at my desk, I'm working. When I'm reading, I'm working. When I take off my glasses, rub my eyes, and pace the room, I'm trying to resolve an inconsistent plot point. When I go for a walk to get some air, I'm fleshing out a new character. When I'm listening to music, I'm setting the mood for a scene. If I'm listening to you speak, I'm honing my ear for dialogue. When I sit down to watch a film, whether an Ingmar Bergman classic or Adam Sandler's latest bomb, I'm enriching my audio-visual lexicon. If I get stung by a wasp, I'm wondering how to work someone getting stung by a wasp into my fiction.

The only time at which I'm not working is late at night when I'm getting loaded, and sometimes I'm working then. Like I said before, inspiration's a bastard.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Stacey Madden

Stacey Madden holds a BA from the University of Toronto and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph. He lives in Toronto. Poison Shy (ECW Press) is his first novel.

Go to Stacey Madden’s Author Page