Sarah Mussi is the author of ANGEL DUST and three other works of fiction. When she’s not writing, she teaches English in Lewisham. We’re pretty amazed that she manages to fit in writing incredible books between planning lessons and marking homework, so we asked her to share her secrets about how she gets it all done.
Sometimes I’m asked how I manage to fit in writing around my full time job. Sometimes I shrug or give a sensible answer like: Um, let me see… Could be because I get up earlier (I do). Could be because I enjoy it (a night in with my manuscript is like a night out for everyone else). But sometimes it actually amazes me, too, that I can fit in as many hours as I do on one book . So underneath all the shrugging and the good sense I’ve got a theory. Well three theories actually, and here they are.
Firstly there’s the theory of relativity. You see, one thing I’ve noticed is that the more you have to do – the more you get done, and conversely: the less you have to do the less you get done. So I’ve got a secret suspicion that Time is a bit like a muscle. The more you flex it the bigger it gets. The more you use it up, the more you have of it. And the more you value it the more value you get out of it. Probably this theory runs counter to the Law of Physics, but I think that Einstein was on to it when he started out with e=mc2.
Secondly I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that Time is like the brain. There’s masses of it and it’s all probably important (well, none of us would like it chunked out), but we don’t quite know what it’s for. It’s only when we challenge ourselves that we find out. I mean take Usain Bolt and the way he uses Time in the 100 metre dash. Never was ten seconds (or so) better prepared for, faster spent and designed to capture the attention of the entire known world in a more Time focused way. Imagine if you could use every ten seconds like that! So I like to challenge myself. When I’m first drafting a script I start with trying to get 4,000 words done in 5 hours. Then I train to get them done in 4 hours and I’m always struggling to beat my personal best score: 3 hours ten minutes!
And finally my last theory is that Time doesn’t play fair. You get things done much more quickly in the morning (well I do) and during the course of the day, Time winds down and starts getting very slippery. I discovered this entirely by accident. One night I woke up with a brand new story idea fully formed in my head. I was a bit worried that I might forget all the details so I pulled out my laptop (top tip: always sleep with your laptop) and started working. Within minutes I’d got two pages covered! Naturally I was very pleased with myself and went back to sleep, But actually I’d discovered something even more important than the story: Time is a trickster and cannot be trusted! Now I play him at his own game. I get things done when he’s on my side (between 4.00 a.m. and 7.00 a.,) and when Time wants to speed by – like at 8.00 p.m., I just do things like washing up (personal worst at washing up? Beat this: entire meal, dinner plates, plus cutlery left on the table all weekend).
So um, yes, so where was I? How do I fit in the day-job?