A Writer’s Journey #5: ‘The Book’ begins to take shape

So the last few weeks have been both extremely busy but also lots of great fun. Having now moved house just because I like a challenge, Zack, my mischievous tabby and I are now unpacked and settled in. I’ve even managed to tackle the garden with the help of my mum, who after inflicting years of childhood induced labour, now found the roles put in reverse. The new house is becoming a home. Alongside that I now have my study set up. My hundreds of books are back on their bookshelves ready and at hand for when I need them most, as I continue to research and write my book, ‘Edward II the Man: A Doomed Inheritance‘.

The attack of the garden snail – reminiscent of my new garden!

The journey has suddenly become even more exciting since I last wrote an update. I’m now on what can only best be described as the home stretch. I can’t quite believe I’m here having now covered the years 1284, starting with Edward’s birth on 25 April at Caernarfon castle, through to my current chapter which ends at the start of January 1326; I write chronologically. Within the next year of the book, Edward is captured fleeing west, his favourites meet their grisly ends and the king finds himself incarcerated on the orders of his wife and her likely lover, Roger Mortimer following their invasion. A screenwriter could not write a better script, only all these events were sadly true and are of course featured in my book.

Despite the progress, there is as of yet much still to do.

I have a couple of chapters yet to write as well as the conclusion and the preface. Some of my earlier chapters need a bit of reworking as I’ve really got under the skin of Edward and his life. Thankfully my manuscript word count has been extended from 100,000 to 110,000 words supported by my editor so there is room to keep going. To date I have amassed over 711 references, all of which need a final double, triple check to satisfy my addled brain that I have listed every source I have scoured and used correctly and everyone gets their due credit. I also need to edit it myself and ensure the whole manuscript continues to hang well together before it is sent off at the end of May for it’s professional edit with Amberley, my publisher. On top of this my sabbatical from the National Trust has come to its conclusion and I have been back at work now for the last two months, working about 45 hour weeks in my role as a busy but very happy General Manager, looking after beautiful properties like Baddesley Clinton, Coughton Court and Packwood House. Fitting everything in now remains my biggest challenge, but one I am determined to do because this project is my passion and that in itself keeps me focussed and my written work full of historical integrity. I want to ensure what you read is the best I can make it.

The book is released on 15 November 2017

The next big piece of news and cause of much celebration in my house this week is I have also had confirmed the release date for my hardback book which is the 15 November 2017. The book will be available in all good bookshops, on Amazon and other such sites. It also looks like at some point it will also be made into an Ebook as well as paperback. It’s very exciting. I cannot wait to walk into my local Waterstones or Foyles and see it sat there on the shelf.

In other news, my editor Shaun and I have also begun working on the jacket for the hardback book. Whilst I cannot yet go into details, we are working collaboratively to ensure the cover best reflects both the subject and of course the period. I’m a slightly over-opinionated client! Whilst the designs are no where near completion, I am hoping they look perfect. Once I can share the design, I will let you know. Watch this space.

I am also looking to have between thirty-five and forty-five high quality images in the centre of the book. I don’t know about you, but I love the images contained in books such as this.  It really helps to bring the past to life in a visual way and I hope will take you all closer to Edward, his court and his life. I have spent many hours scouring on-line digital archives, visiting museums, castles and battle sites in order to secure the best images to go into the book. I am keen to have a broad selection that covers everything from manuscript images, through to objects and items connected in some way to the period or to Edward himself. Some of the images I have taken myself, some are through Creative Commons, but many will be licensed from places like the British Library, the British Museum and the universities of Cambridge and Oxford to name but a few. I hope you will like them; I certainly do.

Royal 10 E.IV, f.247
Repeat after me; ‘Ward off your inner critic!’

Lastly, I have also found that as I move closer to the end of my project I am starting to feel a strange sense of anxiety. It’s a bit like knowing the end is near but as of yet it still feels so far away. It’s almost tangible but equally unreal. Earlier in the week this feeling became a little too overwhelming and it led to a bit of a wobble. My inner critic started asking questions like, is all this work actually any good? What will people think? What if everyone hates it? Two big wobbles in a year I guess is not that bad after all, and after a pep talk from my fellow writer friends, I am back on the writer’s journey with a bounce in my step. I still hold out as I wrote a while back, that I believe every writer has a wobble now and again, and remains their own biggest critic. I am certainly no exception. A friend said to me only today that a wobble allows you to remember how far along the journey you have come. If as a writer you do not like your work from time to time, then you are on the right track. It means you are pushing yourself and discovering new things. Creativity comes on the edge of the writing precipice and challenges us all. If as a writer you like everything you’ve written, it’s probably by definition, not very good apparently. I’m going with that for now.

For those of you who like to know the stats for where I am currently, the figures now stand at;

Words                                      88,465

Paragraphs                             579

Characters                              430,613

Lines                                        7,209

Pre-formatted Pages             341

So onwards and up, there’s no time to stop. This medieval war horse is already careering across the battlefield.

Very best wishes

Stephen (and Zack)


Facebook: Fourteenthcenturyfiend

Twitter: @Spinksstephen

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