Sunday, December 1, 2013

Writing the Past in the Present

I’m opening up to you on this one, dear reader.

Yes. Lately I’ve posted about archaeological sites, points of history and legend, things ancient and medieval. However, this blog is called ‘Writing the Past’, so occasionally I should talk about the actual writing of my historical fiction.

A lot of you e-mailed me to say how much you liked the blog tour post on ‘My Writing Process’.

Well, today you will be on the other side of the confessional wall.

The post on my writing process highlights all of the different balls that I have in the air, how I write whenever I can, ‘in the cracks of my life’. And all of that is true.

But it isn’t all roses. Oh no. More like a dodgy box of chocolates.

I don’t bound out of bed at 5 a.m. to pound out 700 words before nancing my way to work, happily alert and gathering the details of life for my next novel or blog post. That scenario is about as trustworthy as an Ostian fishmonger.

In the mornings, I’m more like a slow-moving zombie from Shaun of the Dead – bones cracking, scary bed head, and shuffling feat, whilst I moan about it being too bloody early. After all, I did stay up late to edit my own literary demons.

I’ve developed the ability to sleep standing up on the subway, eyes open. I don’t like being one of the cattle in the train car, same old same old. I suspect I’m not the only one. What I dislike more is stepping over pools of vagrant urine and frat boy vomit on the sidewalks downtown as I drag my chain to my 17th floor cubicle. Oh, and at this point in the day, there has been no writing.

But I’m always mulling things over, formulating. The gears of zombie Adam’s mind are turning in the background, working on a subconscious level… all the time.

I actually like that. I love writing, and I love history. As long as I am connected to them in some way, shape, or form throughout the day, I feel human, alive and imaginative.

Lately, however, I'm overwhelmed. There are not enough hours in the day, and there is so much that I want to write. Actually, there is so much I AM writing and working on that my head is beginning to spin.

I’ve always been rather good at time management, but I think I’ve hit the shield wall. Too long in the front ranks, pushing ahead, and swinging my sword. I’m flailing in battle, wasting energy and leaving my flank open to attack. And you know what happens to the legionary who loses focus in the heat of battle?

He gets a spear through his guts, and is then useless. Or he becomes a zombie.

I suspect that many of my fellow writers might feel like this at times.

I confess that I’ve been trying to do too much at once. Here is the list of my current writing to do’s:

  1. Finish final edits Killing the Hydra
  2. Finish writing Author’s Note for Killing the Hydra
  3. Finalize book cover copy for Killing the Hydra
  4. Create e-book files for Killing the Hydra
  5. Planning release schedule and events/competitions for Killing the Hydra
  6. Finish writing Carpathian Interlude Part II – Lykoi (check!)
  7. Edit second edition of Carpathian Interlude Part I – Immortui
  8. Cover design and e-book files for Carpathian Interlude Parts I and II
  9. Edit new short story
  10. Work on second draft of first Alexander the Great novel
  11. Continue to write Warriors of Epona (Eagles and Dragons Part III)
  12. Remain present on social media
  13. Create some fantastic products to accompany the Eagles and Dragons series
  14. Keeping up my weekly blogging schedule – and hopefully keeping it interesting

You know what? This list is exhausting. And I could add more. Then there is that little thing called, you know, LIFE – family (the most important thing), exercise, reading, work etc. etc.

I'm not the only one
with a messy desk!
In a way, I love the creative madness. Weird, I know. Ideas and projects are always bubbling inside, but unless I cut a deal with Chronus, there is no way I’m going to change Time itself.

I have to find a way to manage it. It’s imperative.

Alexander the Great was a master of tactics and strategy because he could adapt easily and quickly to any situation in the field.

The Persian arrows are raining down and I definitely need a new strategy if I want to move forward.

Releasing Killing the Hydra is my priority right now. I know I need to focus on that, but I also don’t want to rush it. The deadline for that has been pushed again and again. I was hoping for a Christmas release, but at this point I’m not sure I’ll make it. I prefer to delay a bit longer so that I can give my readers a great product. That’s much better than rushing it and releasing rubbish. It’s a great story and I need to do it justice.

But I have to keep writing, and thankfully I have just finished the first draft of Lykoi. I try to always have a writing project on at the same time as an editing project. If you don’t write constantly, it just becomes harder to do so when you do sit down. 

Alexander riding into battle
I’ll just have to decide how to deal with the other items on the list. Just as there are stages in a battle, there are stages from the initial spark of an idea to publication.

I know a lot of people who have very specific agendas for their writing schedule and stick to them. Every hour of the day is spoken for, though a degree of flexibility is required. I’ll give that a go. Why not?

Some of you may have some ideas for time management that you would like to share, especially if you are a writer, parent, day-jobber, generalissimo, or president of a large country. If you are one of these, and you have some ideas, do share!

Basically, I know I need to reign in my war horse and take in the lay of the land. The barbarians are at the gates and I can’t afford to let them take me.

Whatever the outcome, forward motion and a series of small victories is my goal. If I can make that happen while keeping my calm, the laurel wreath will be within my grasp.

Thanks for being my confessor today and, as ever, thanks for reading!

I refuse to end up like this guy!

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