Welcome to the first in the ‘Day in the Life of…’ interviews – a new feature for 2018. Find out the daily challenges and successes of writers, characters, and other professionals involved with the writing process.
Welcome to Lynne Cantwell
Please give us a brief outline of who you are. I’m the author of about 20 books, mostly urban fantasy novels. My biggest and best-known series is the Pipe Woman Chronicles. Before that, I worked as a broadcast journalist; I’ve written for Mutual/NBC Radio News and CNN, among others. If you add up my years as a journalist and this indie author thing, I’ve been writing and editing professionally for nearly 30 years. I’m also on the staff at Indies Unlimited, a superblog for indie authors. [www.indiesunlimited.com]
Do you work at another job? If so tell us about fitting in the writing/editing. My day job is at a big law firm as a legal secretary. Fitting everything in is tough, especially now. I used to be able to get some author tasks done during my downtime at work, but the firm has locked down access to a lot of things on the internet due to security concerns. So I used to be able to sit at my desk at work and check my home email, instant message people, browse for cover art (I usually do my own covers), post photos on social media, etc., but I can’t do any of that now. It’s frustrating.
Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? I have two daughters. Kat is 31 and Amy is 29. They’re very supportive. In fact, Kat has a degree in creative writing – she’s one of my editors. Amy consults on various things from time to time.
How do you fit in ‘real life’? When I’m writing the first draft of a novel, I don’t fit in “real life” at all. I tend to write them NaNoWriMo-style; that is, I spend every available free minute writing for three or four weeks straight. Editing is a lot less intense for me. Once I get to that point, I’m fit to be with people again!
Do you have a particular process? As I said, I tend to write first drafts in a burst. Weekends are ideal – I can shut the door, put my phone in a drawer (or even in another room!), and immerse myself in the story for several hours straight. I’m able to do this because I write a beats-style outline for the book first. That way I always know which scene I’m writing next. I don’t slavishly follow the outline, but I don’t let the story get too far off-track, either.
Once the first draft is done, I let it sit for two or three weeks, and then reopen the file and start editing it.
Are you very organised? You’re hilarious. I mean, I write the outline, and I keep my research in file folders in OneNote and in manila files at my desk. And I have a dry-erase calendar above my desk that I use for keeping track of events in the book. I guess that’s pretty organized. But there always seems to be something that I end up kicking myself for because I’ve forgotten to make note of it.
What time do you go to bed? On weeknights, my phone nags at me to get to bed by midnight, but I’ll happily ignore it if I’m writing. Most days, though, I turn out the light by 12:30am or 1:00am. On work days I’m up at 7:15am, so staying up much later is not a good look for me the next day.
What do you have for breakfast? I’m experimenting right now. My go-to for decades was cereal and milk, or oatmeal. Lately, though, I’ve been having eggs every morning. I’m also limiting my caffeine intake these days, too, to one cup in the morning – although it’s a big cup. But I don’t drink coffee all day long. I’m also weaning myself from soda because soda is bad for you. Being a grownup stinks sometimes.
Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? Absolutely. It’s not very lucrative, or at least not for most of us. But it has its own rewards. You’ve heard of a runner’s high, right? Well, when I’m writing and really getting into the story and things are really clicking, it’s like I’m on a writer’s high. It feels so great — and the best part is that I don’t have to get all sweaty.
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lynnecantwell