A Day In The Life, by Elaine Owen

A Day In The Life, by Elaine Owen



The following is a fictional story and may or may not bear any resemblance to any self-published JAFF author, either living or dead. 🙂

7AM – Time to rise and shine! An author’s work is never done. Goals for today: Write at least 10,000 words on my newest P&P fanfic novel, The Heavenly Mr. Darcy and format my most recent novella, Lizzy Lassoes Her Man, for paperback. I’ll take a shower, eat breakfast, walk the dog, then settle down to serious work for the day.

8AM – 8:45AM – Surf the internet. Check reviews on books already released. Nothing new, but even old reviews are fun to read again. And again. And again.

8:55AM – Call from a friend who doesn’t appreciate that I am at work. WORKING! I politely hang up and get back on the computer.

9AM – So far I have managed to write just one sentence:

“Darcy stared longingly at Elizabeth as she crossed the floor of the Netherfield ball room.”

Wait, they just met! Shouldn’t he be glaring at her, not staring longingly? Or should he just observe her cautiously? Why not watch warily? Or stare disapprovingly?

“Darcy could not help observing Miss Eliza Bennet as she crossed the floor gracefully, though he did his best to do so unobserved, and noticed how the lines of her silk gown outlined her pleasing curves . . . . “

Uh-oh. “Observed” is in that sentence twice! What if I change it so that Darcy is watching Miss Eliza Bennet, instead of observing her? But watching sounds faintly creepy, like he’s stalking her or something. I can’t use that either.

“Darcy could not help occasionally glancing at Miss Eliza Bennet as she crossed the floor gracefully, doing his best to do so without being observed. He was forced to admit, against his will, that the lines of her silk gown outlined her pleasing curves . . . “

That’s better.

9:25AM– Wait. Darcy wouldn’t think of Elizabeth as “Eliza,” would he? And would Elizabeth really wear a silk gown to a ball? Those were expensive, and Elizabeth’s mother wastes money! But what does she waste it on? Maybe Elizabeth did have a silk gown.


9:30AM  – Research cost of women’s dresses in Regency England.

10:15AM – Facebook notification! A fan wants to chat about The Heavenly Mr. Darcy. I need to work, but chatting with a fan is publicity, and publicity is work, right? I answer.

10:20AM – The fan is very complimentary, but they’re a little confused. They think this is a story called Heavenly Bodies, a Darcy/Elizabeth pairing in outer space. With aliens.


We end the conversation.

10:30AM- This is obviously not a good writing day. Forget writing for now. I’ll get my short story formatted for paperback, break for lunch at noon, and start writing again after that.

11:30AM—Excellent! Formatting this story was so easy! I even put in a title page, a dedication, and a table of contents. Now I just have to add the page numbers to the bottom of each page, starting with the first page of chapter one. That should be quick. Computers make everything so automated these days!

11:45AM – I have no idea how to start page numbers anywhere but on the first page of the document. Google: insert page numbers in Word.

12:15PM – OK, I’ve watched a couple of tutorials explaining how to start numbering pages after the first page and followed their directions carefully. So why do I still have “Page 1” at the bottom of my title page?

12:45PM – I can’t get rid of that “Page 1” on the title page without removing ALL page numbers.

12:48PM – Fine. I didn’t want page numbers anyway.

12:49PM – Except I can’t have a paperback book without a table of contents. And page numbers.

1PM-  Where did those huge blank gaps at the bottom of some of my pages come from? Word is not allowing paragraphs to be split across pages! How do I fix that? I have to Google the problem and I don’t even know what to call it!!!!

1:15PM– I think I found the problem. What is widow/orphan control?

1:30PM—I’m still figuring out the finer points of widow/orphan control when my editor calls. She tells me that Elizabeth from the year 1810 could not have a “chartreuse” gown because the word chartreuse had not yet been coined. We spend fifteen minutes looking up synonyms for chartreuse.


Fine. White gowns were more common anyway. Elizabeth’s gown is now white. Back to formatting!

1:50PM–I re-format all 30,000 words so that paragraphs will flow across pages. The paragraphs look great, but the chapter headings have gone back to plain text. I re-do each separate heading again. I take another stab at the page numbers.

1:58PM–Those $!@&# page numbers!

2PM – I now have a document with page numbers that start one page before chapter one, and they only appear on even-numbered pages. And where did those horizontal lines come from?????? I didn’t ask for those!


2:15 – Whatever. I can live with only half the pages numbered. But I’d like to get rid of the horizontal lines.


2:45 – Whatever. I didn’t want to do paperbacks anyway.

2:55—I’m trying one last time, and then I’m done. DONE!

3PM – Page numbers and horizontal lines are now gone 🙂 but so is all my formatting! :-[ Apply widow/orphan control again. Format chapter headings AGAIN.

3:14PM— My computer’s dying! I’m trying frantically try to save it, but it’s not working.


My work is gone. Gone!!!!! The story, the chapter headings, the page numbers–all gone!!!!!!

3:30PM—This day is shot. I have to take my laptop to get diagnosed, repaired, or possibly replaced. Being an author is SO not worth it! All this aggravation for almost nothing in return.


In my next life I’m going to be something easy and uncomplicated, like a bricklayer.

But then I check my phone and there’s an email from someone I don’t know:

Dear Author,

Your story Mrs. Bennet Saves The Day is the best story I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down! I read it while I was sitting in the hospital, waiting for my mom to get out of open heart surgery, and it made me laugh. Thank you for helping me forget my problems for a few hours.

Your fan forever,

A Devoted Reader

Suddenly the stubborn page numbers, the chartreuse gown, and the broken computer don’t matter. None of it does.


If I have made one person happy, it was all worth it. I know tomorrow will find me right where I was today—loving every day in the life of a writer.

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39 Responses to A Day In The Life, by Elaine Owen

  1. Oh, Elaine, what a hilarious post. You made my day. Sounds a little like the day I woke up to and found Microsoft had added updates and locked me out of my computer. Thank goodness my daughter had worked many years at Microsoft, and we finally got it resolved. Any time you want to do another post like this, all of us would enjoy another laugh for the day. 🙂

  2. Oh my! Awesome! The next time I have one of those one step forward, two steps back frustration days, I will think of your post and how you find a way to bring us your wonderful stories despite days like these. Thank you for the giggles this morning.

    • Well definitely not “Lizzy Lassoes Her Man”! 🙁 (Isn’t that a hideous title???)

      I’ve started on An Unexpected Turn of Events, which is the third and final story in my Longbourn Unexpected series. This story will follow Mr. Bennet as he unexpectedly outlives his wife and finds a new place in the world. And my muse is demanding that I write down the story of Georgiana’s courtship after the events of Duty Demands.

      The Heavenly Mr. Darcy is just a figment of my imagination. 🙂

  3. What a delightful post!! Really enjoyed it!!
    It’s sooo easy to become distracted by the simplest things,especially as you tell yourself that you’ll only spend five,ten,definitely no more than fifteen minutes,at most,checking those all so important emails,reading excerpts from Austen sites….! Yes,the list is endless!
    As for the imp that lives in the computer and rears his ugly head at the most inopportune times…..doubt get me started!
    I consider myself accomplished of o successfully send an email.I kid you not!
    Hope tomorrow dawns as a very successful writing day,that your phone rings only when you’ve dotted the final ‘I’ and crossed all your ‘ts’,and that you get to chat web your friend in the happy knowledge that you’ve a further 10,000 words successfully written and saved on that bug/imp free computer of yours! ?

  4. That was a great post, Elaine! Super funny. All that’s missing to make it my day is the part where, after sitting down to write, I go check a certain blog, read other authors’ posts, and comment . . . wait, am I supposed to be writing? Oops 🙂 Really, though, I’m saving time here because now I’ll never attempt a chartreuse dress.

  5. Elaine for President! You’ve got the tenacity to solve all the world’s problems … and you are a most enjoyable writer too!

  6. Were you playing “peeping Elaine” at my house last week? Shame on you! LOL! Just add a dose of grandkids instead of the email from the reader, and you would have described me.

  7. As frustrating as it must have been for you Elaine, it was hilarious. I share your pain, years ago an evil computer just ate my Master Thesis at the end of typing it. I had it on paper, but putting in a couple of hundred pages AGAIN was more than infuriating
    Looking forward to your next book. 🙂
    A devoted fan.

  8. I was so frustrated trying to use Microsoft “help” on page numbers I once created a “picture” of a blank white square and put it over the page one page number. Googling is much better than Microsoft help, as you have obviously discovered.

    • I’ve definitely done that, but then, sometimes, when you upload the document the little white boxes squidgy around and end up in the wrong place, and it can be hard to find them again . . . 🙂

        • In Microsoft word, go to the Insert menu, click on shapes, click on the rectangle. Change the color of the shape outline and shape fill to white. The square can be enlarged or shrunk by grabbing a corner and pushing it out or in. Move it to where you want it.

          If you lose your shape and want to find it, go to the design tab, change the page color, and your white shape will be visible.

          As Summer said, uploading the document may not give you what appeared on the original.

          I forgot to say in my earlier comment that I enjoyed your post.

          • OK, that strategy makes sense. I suppose you’d have to upload it as a pdf then to make sure nothing gets lost in translation.

            I’m glad you liked the post!

  9. As a person who can practically be called a technophobe, I feel your pain. Very deeply, cause I had problems with page numbers as well, for my thesis manuscript. This was a fun view into the life of an author (especially since I’m hoping to be one too 🙂 ).

    • Page numbers!!!! I do wish the programmers at Microsoft would come up with a system that makes a little more sense to use. There’s something about the interaction between page breaks and section breaks that seems to foul it up every time.

  10. How funny you are!!! I loved this insight into being an author. Now I know that even if I could think of a storyline (without reading someone else’s and thinking ‘oooh what a great idea!) I could never do anything creative on my computer. I have to ask one of my children and they are trying to explain over the phone or by messages and I sit there staring at my pc totally baffled! So I would like to thank you and the rest of the JAFF authors whose stories I love for going through all that to bring me such pleasure ?

  11. OMG!!! Hilarious!!! Some of those problems I have experienced myself. I so sympathize with you. Computers are the spawn of Satan and should be relegated to the deepest level of Hell. But then, we need them so desperately, so we force ourselves to put up with them. I just keep telling myself, they are from another planet and I simply need to learn their language so that I am able to communicate with them.

    By the way, I just picked up my computer today. Every time Microsoft does an update, my computer acts up. It refused [or forgot how] to access the internet. I was lost without it. I had to use my husband’s computer [shudder]… it only speaks sports and wants to go to news websites. It didn’t want to go to a Jane Austen discussion site. Thank goodness I have been spared further contact with the monstrosity.

    Thank you for my laugh of the day. Good luck with your work schedule. May you be blessed with an uninterrupted work day and an easy 10,000 words. Blessings.

    • It refused to access something related to Jane Austen? Insupportable! 🙂

      Despite the tenor of this post, I am not a full time author and on my best days I have never come anywhere near 10,000 words! It would be nice to have happen just once!

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