After a deadline push I always feel a bit at sea, at odds with myself, uncertain what to tackle next. I felt it when I sent off the final proofs of A Triple Knot in late winter, I feel it now having just send off a proposal for a new series, including 3 chapters of the first book.
I have two fairly immediate deadlines, a book review for the Medieval Feminist Forum (a wonderfully engaging microhistory about a poisoning case in medieval France–more about that in a later post) and an essay for a Random House site about how I begin a project. And then, of course, there are the two crime novels I’m writing, an Owen Archer and the first in the proposed new series. I’ve also neglected the annotated bibliography that will reside on this blog as a companion to my published novels, providing background material for those who would like to explore more about the history and/or for those teaching one of my novels in a class. So much to do!
That’s the problem–too many choices. I was jumping from one to the next, accomplishing little other than creating chaos in my office. I’d made towering piles of books that are now threatening to slide off the top of my desk and the windowsill bookcases and spook my cat Ariel, who has just begun to spend time in my office, finally filling the void left by my beloved Agrippa. (She’s preferred the upstairs.) This is not the time for avalanches.
Fortunately, she took matters into her own hands this afternoon, settling on my lap while I was browsing in the first volume of The History of Parliament: The Commons 1386-1421 (J.S. Roskell, Linda Clark, Carole Rawcliffe, Alan Sutton 1992). I resolved to sit still as long as she wished–else she might not do it again. My reading extended a bit over 1 1/2 hours, during which time I read the introductory material and the specific background on York, all of which provided helpful insight into York politics in Owen and Lucie’s time as well as at the turn of the century (14th-15th), which is the period in which I open the proposed series. What a gift Ariel presented me–focus, stillness. After she departed, I pulled out my notes on both novels and added the insights I’d gleaned. Now to arrange the piles on bookshelves so that they won’t disrupt Ariel’s sleep. A good afternoon’s work.