In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Friday, 22 May 2015


 Only 9 days left until the deadline for the Yeovil Prize, and my submission isn't ready yet.

 Oh, it's nearly ready... still. Seems to have been almost there for weeks. But I've trimmed and edited enough that the Word Count fell to barely 8k, and since the maximum is 15k that might be a wee bit low. So I'm adding another chapter, which I have to do right now because I'm at work for 6 of the next 7 days... sigh.

 Also I get married in 3 months and 4 days. I swear, it was only a little while ago that Caz and I had most of a year left, and now suddenly it's rushing up on us. And my lady comes first, whatever else is happening; she and our lives together are more important than anything else. Has to be that way, doesn't it? Otherwise we might as well not bother.

 Troy III is done now. Final edit finished, text polished and buffed, and the cover is ready. Here it is;

 I should really thank Mark Watts, the old school friend who designs my covers for me. It's interesting, because I tell him what I want and he then gives me his interpretation of that, which is usually better. We've been friends since we were 14, so he knows me pretty well. Cheers mate, it helps a lot.

 Now, finally, I can write something else. I thought I'd need a break after so long immersed in Troy, but actually I've dived straight into Cold Kingdoms - and this time, thanks largely to Rebecca Alexander's advice, the story seems to be unfolding better. I've tried to adjust a few things and the result is a tighter style, maybe a bit more like my earlier work, such as The Risen King. I don't think my recent stuff is bad, but it could always be better.

 With which I sign off. Summer is here and the sun is shining, so this indoorsy writer is going for a walk. With a hat, of course. I might enjoy the sun but there are limits y'know.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Something Subtle

 It's been a busy few days. I volunteered for two years in a charity shop, Cancer Research UK, and was disappointed to have to stop when I found a paid role at a JD Wetherspoon pub. But the area manager has worked out a way for me to train as a manager one day a week, which means that by the end of the year I'll be able to return to work I really enjoy. Helping people through serious problems is about as good as anything I can think of.

 Wetherspoons did not see it this way, and instead of giving me one day off a week, they fired me. Oh, they said I'd failed an assessment... but I wasn't due one, and they just happened to decide to do it on the day I asked them for the time. Freaky, eh? It doesn't matter - I already have another job - but you could almost feel a bit suspicious.

 I'll be better able to write now, too. One problem with 'Spoons - and boy, there were lots of problems - was the hours. Some evening shifts didn't finish until 4am; morning starts were at 6am. So I always seemed to be either sleeping late or going to bed early, and whatever I did I was always exhausted. I'd open Word and just look at it for a bit before starting to snore. That isn't useful for getting work done.

 By the way, it's only my beautiful fiancee who says I snore. Don't believe it, myself. Gosh no.

 But I have, somehow, managed to do the last redraft of Troy volume 3, and I'm now doing the final edit - just rereading, over and again, in search of any grammar/punctuation errors, or phrases that just clunk. It's amazing how many get through. I know that I could check it a hundred times and still miss a couple of mistakes, which of course I'll spot the moment I look at the published book... something which could make me get used to swearing quite quickly. But it's almost done. Troy, after some two years, is almost finished.

 I've said in previous blogs that I think Troy is the greatest story ever told. It's just fabulous, a sweeping tale that takes in bravery and betrayal, honour and pride, and the fall of nations and whole peoples. But there's something more subtle, too. Amidst this great saga of battle, it's easy to miss the fact that the great warriors - Achilles, Hector, Ajax - all die. The ones who survive are the thinkers, Odysseus most of all. Homer seems to be saying that courage and skill at arms are not enough, and in the end it's the clever ones who come through - who are blessed by the gods, in his terms. It might be, I think, that Homer wrote The Iliad as an anti-war polemic.

 It might not be, too. But I like the idea.