Last year, I started interviewing full-time writers of lesbian fiction. The list would hardly be complete without today’s guest.
Georgia Beers lives in Rochester with her wife—the awesome-sounding Bonnie—, their niece, two dogs, and a cat. She’s the author of almost a dozen novels and short stories, including Starting from Scratch, 96 Hours (which I really enjoyed), and Snow Globe, her newest release. Despite being a self-confessed introvert, she was the keynote speaker at last year’s GCLS conference and filmed a hilarious video about “A Day in the Life of a Romance Writer.”
If you haven’t watched it yet, go take a look and then come back to read the interview.
Don’t you just love the Law & Order: SVU “ching-ching” sound? :-)
So let’s move on to the interview.
How long have you been writing full-time?
It’s been a bit sporadic, but all told, about four years.
What was the process of moving into full-time writing for you?
For our genre in particular, a big part of the consideration is financial. I love what I do, but it doesn’t bring in a ton of money, so my wife and I had to sit down and calculate if my giving up a regular, steady-paying job to be paid a few times a year was something we could handle. After that, it was about making a space in our house that felt comfortable enough for me to sit there for several hours a day. Leaving a regular job was a bit daunting and scary, but 95% of the time, I’m so glad I did it.
Do you write every day? Do you give yourself weekends or days off or vacation time away from writing?
I don’t necessarily write every day, but I work on my current project in some way every day. Whether I’m plotting in my head or jotting down notes, there is always some sort of work being done (and I often have to remind myself that this is the case so I don’t feel guilty for not actually typing any words that day). I do tend to take weekends off to spend with Bonnie. On occasion, she must work a Saturday or a Sunday, and on those days, I’ll work a little bit too. As for vacation time, my general pattern is to work through the year until November. Then I try to take the entire span of the holidays off because there’s so much going on and so much that needs to be done. I get back to work in early January.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I get up early with Bonnie, usually by 6am. Weather permitting, we walk the dogs and have breakfast together. I do my email correspondence while she’s in the shower, then I hop in after her. When she leaves for work, I sit my butt down at my desk and do my best to get to work for a few hours. It doesn’t always happen, but the effort is made.
Do you have a daily word-count goal or a set number of hours you spend writing?
That depends upon where I am in a project. If I’m in the middle of a book, I like to give myself a mental goal. In my opinion, 1,000 words or more is a good day. I write in spurts. I have never been the kind of person who can sit down and write into the wee hours (I wish I was). I tend to work for a couple hours at a time, and then I need to get up and engage my brain in something else, even if it’s something mindless like laundry or grocery shopping. And if I’ve hit 1,000 words, I don’t feel guilty doing that.
If I’m in the early planning stages of a novel or if I’m in editing, I try to make myself work for a certain amount of time, usually a couple hours. Again, it doesn’t always happen, but I try hard not to leave the room.
Where do you write?
We have a three-bedroom house. One of the bedrooms is my office. My desk faces the windows that look out the front, so I have a bit of a view. It’s a great space. It feels good. It’s comfortable. I love it.
On occasion, I’ll feel the need for a change of scenery. Not often, but every once in a while I’ll take my laptop to a Barnes & Noble or a local coffee shop and get some work done there.
How did family and friends react to you giving up your day job to become a full-time writer?
Honestly, I got nothing but happiness, pride, and support.
How much time do you spend promoting your books, including blogging, social media, etc.?
Ask anybody who knows me and they’ll tell you: I am a terrible self-promoter. Terrible. I hate doing it. I avoid it if I can. I was brought up to not “toot my own horn,” so asking people to support me and buy my work feels…rude. Admittedly, social media makes it a bit easier. I happen to enjoy Facebook and Twitter, though I don’t post on a regular basis. I know some people would argue that I should be posting on a set schedule, but it feels so…fake to me. I post when I have something to say, and I share links to my work when it’s necessary to do so. But I’m not somebody who updates her status six times a day. I just don’t have that much to say that I think is interesting enough to share it with the world. Nobody cares if I ate a sandwich or I’m stuck in traffic. LOL! I do have a blog and I get good feedback on the things I write about there, but I don’t blog often (or often enough, depending on who you ask). Again, I need to feel like I have something important to share before I just blather on and on about nothing much. I guess I’m old-fashioned like that.
What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?
The freedom. Being my own boss. Setting my own hours. Being at home with my dogs all day, every day. It’s awesome. I’m so lucky, especially since I’m such a homebody and being in my house all day makes me very happy.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a full-time writer?
For me? Discipline. By far. All my talk earlier about sitting and writing for hours? Yeah, that’s what I shoot for, but it doesn’t always happen. I am easily distracted. If I’m at a tough point in my project and I realize a load of laundry needs to be done, or hey, the sun is shining, I should take the dogs for a walk, I’m done. It’s very challenging for me to keep my behind in my chair and not become sidetracked by something else, something easier and more immediate.
Also, along those same lines comes the need to contribute. Because I don’t have to get up and drive to work every day, and because I don’t bring in a regular paycheck, it feels necessary to me to contribute to the running of the house in other ways. Bonnie goes to work every day and brings home steady money, as well as taking care of our health benefits. Because of that, I try to do other things so she doesn’t have to. I keep the house clean, do the grocery shopping, take care of the dogs and the yard. That’s my way of contributing in a non-financial way. Often, I can let those things pull my head away from my work. I have to make a concerted effort sometimes not to allow that, and it can be very difficult for me.
Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a full-time writer?
Nothing I can come up with off the top of my head. I wrote on a part-time basis for a good length of time, I think. I got to know the industry and its ins and outs, I built a following, I had all my ducks in a row before I made the move to full-time. I think that was a good way to do it.
What advice would you give a fellow author who wants to write full time?
Hold on to that dream, but be patient. Make sure it’s the right time for you before you give up the day job. It’s a very big financial change, and you need to make sure it’s something you can handle before you do it and then realize maybe you should have waited. A few more months/years won’t make a huge difference.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel?
My next novel is due out in May. It’s called Olive Oil & White Bread, and it’s a romance, but with a bit of a twist. Rather than watching the two main characters fall in love and then end the book, I have them fall in love in the beginning of the book. The remainder of it is about the next twenty-plus years of their life together. I’ve received a lot of e-mail from readers asking if I would ever write a romance about a long-term couple, so I did. It’s the hardest book I’ve written so far, but I’m proud of it. I hope my readers enjoy it.
What books can we look forward to from you in the future?
Hopefully, lots more! I have no intention of not writing, so I’ll keep going as long as my readers keep reading. I’m in the very early stages of the next book, a romance set in the Adirondacks. I’ve got a bare-bones outline for the book after that as well. I also hope to write some more short stories. I’m currently working on a sequel to my novella “Balance,” so we’ll see what happens there. In short, just more! :-)
Thank you, Georgia, for taking the time to answer my questions and for giving us some insight into your daily writing life beyond what we already saw in the video.
Have a great start into the new week!