Saturday, October 14, 2017

Christina Hollis: A Writer's Life Is (Usually) A Happy One...

Writing for a living must be the best job there is. To paraphrase Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady’s The Big Bang Theory, being a writer involves thinking about stuff and writing some of it down. 
The snag is, when you’re an author the day-job comes with a whole load of excess baggage. 

Non-Fictional Paperwork
By this I mean the boring everyday toil, rather than useful non-fiction writing work, like my current project about Women’s Lives In Bristol. Accounts and tax returns are only too real. Planning, cross-checking diaries with my OH to make sure our appointments don’t clash, and scheduling work all has to be done. Keeping on top of it all helps reduce the total time I spend on non-writing tasks—for example, I carry a plain white envelope in the back of my purse with the month and year written on it. I stuff all my work-related receipts and parking passes straight into it as I get them. Then it’s a simple thing to sit down at the end of that month and enter all the receipts on my Current Accounts spreadsheet. That’s a lot quicker than scrabbling around the house and car for paperwork once a year, but it all eats into my writing time.

Nobody Believes You...
… when you say it’s your career. It’s hard to believe it myself sometimes. I jump out of bed every day of the year (yes, Monday mornings included!) and find it hard to tear myself away from my desk when the family needs feeding, or they’re in danger of running out of clean clothes. Imagine how tough it is to keep smiling when somebody asks me to take on a task or join a committee which only meets during working hours “…because you’re at home all day…”.

I'm Writing Non-Fiction At The Moment, So This Really IS Bristol
Or They Believe Too Much...
One of the first thing every writer learns is the danger of putting real people into their books. We live in litigious times. If you hate your landlord and the feeling is mutual, they’ll comb your published work for any trace of a similarity between them and a villain in your book. Eye and hair colour, build, habits, speech patterns—change them all, to be on the safe side. Everyone uses real events and personalities as a springboard for their fiction—even JRR Tolkien, whose fantasy world of hobbits, trolls and dwarves is about as far removed from real life as it’s possible to get. Both he and his wife have an important part in his story universe, but they both knew exactly what he was up to, and it was consensual. Moral: only include a real person in your book if both of you are involved in an eternal, true-life love story. 
With each other, obviously. 

When writing is your career rather than your hobby, it’s a wonderful life but there are a few niggles. Thank goodness for family, friends, and understanding visitors to sites like AuthorSound Relations, that’s all I can say!

Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. She has written six historical novels, eighteen contemporary novels, sold nearly three million books, and her work has been translated into twenty different languages. When she isn’t writing, Christina is cooking, gardening, walking her dog, or beekeeping.

You can catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide.


dstoutholcomb said...

so true...I'm not as accomplished as you, but I have some of those obstacles...


Christina Hollis said...

If only I was organised enough to tackle *everything* as it fell due. Sigh!
Thanks for commenting, Denise. Hope you're having a good weekend.