Essential: big net and lightning reflexes – Lilac Mills

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By Lilac Mills

Working full time and being an author isn’t mutually exclusive, as I’ve discovered. But finding the time in which to write has become a bit of a challenge. I’ve turned into a sneaky, secretive woman, creeping up on any unsuspecting minutes and leaping on them, much like a butterfly collector with a net. And time reminds me a little of a butterfly – elusive, difficult to catch, fleeting…♥

Some parcels of time are like the little pretty ones that you glimpse out of the corner of your eye and you have to snatch at them before they flutter off, or else you end up looking at a pile of ironing instead of your computer. Others are more like those chunky moths that seem large enough to feed a family of four with leftovers for the next day – but even those need to be approached with caution and a certain amount of determination, otherwise they will disappear right out of your net, and all you’ll be left with is moth-dust and disappointment.

The well-structured days of a full-time author (I’m assuming a lot here!) are not for me. I have to fit my writing in whenever and wherever I can, and when I see a small amount of time that I could no doubt fill with mundane but essential chores, I grab it with both hands and pray the muse strikes. Often it doesn’t, and I’m left feeling disgruntled and a little cheated.

For me, it is a rare thing for time and muse to be in the same room at the exact same moment, and this is where self-discipline comes in – I can’t afford to let those butterflies flutter away. But finally, over weeks and months of stolen minutes and hastily grabbed half hours, a story came together, bit by hard-won bit, unitl I finally put a full stop on the last sentence and realised I’d done it, I had a novel.

I also realised something else, something which came as quite a shock – typing “The End” wasn’t the end. In fact, it was the beginning of many more swiftly grabbed minutes, and highly coveted and jealously-guarded hours, but this time they weren’t used for writing. Instead editing, researching book cover designers, and working out the intricacies of marketing and self-promotion took the place of bringing a story to life.

On occasion, I wished I hadn’t decided to self-publish so I could go back to the writing side of being an author (deciding whether to go down the self or traditional publishing route is another blog post entirely), but gradually I discovered what works for me – I found the little butterflies were handy for jotting down ideas, for tweeting, for answering emails and firing some off, and that I didn’t have to pressure myself into writing every free minute, yet I was still using my time constructively, leaving the meaty moths for when I could really get stuck into my next chapter.

Will I ever give up the “day” job? Probably not. I’m acutely aware of how difficult it is to make a living as an author and I’m not sure I would want to give up the security of a monthly salary. But I proved to myself it could be done, and now I’ve been well and truly bitten by the writing bug. Novel number 2 had better look out – I’ve got a really big net ready and I’m wearing my best butterfly-catching hat!


Lilac Mills spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it! She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun… Her novel, Under the Cherry Tree, is out now.

www.lilacmills.com

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