The Year Of Writing Dangerously

I don’t understand writers who give up the day-job, then find an office somewhere and spend all day staring at the screen in the same sort of cubicle they may well have occupied when they were wage-slaves.

Why would you do that, when suddenly you can be anywhere?  Giving up the day-job = Freedom!  Being a writer = Freedom!  You no longer have to be tied to an industrial size typewriter.  With the technology available today, you can commune with your muse on feather-light Macbook Air (well, a few feathers…), or iPad or Galaxy tablet, or smartphone.  The tools of the trade have never been so portable, freeing up the writer to follow their craft wherever the mood takes them.

Partly, I think, it’s that a lot of writers are stuck in twentieth-century thinking.  It’s a job – it puts food on the table, it takes a massive amount of effort and concentration – so it has to be treated like a job.  Hard labour in a rabbit-hutch office.  Just so your unconscious, and your loved ones, and friends, don’t think you’re slacking (because secretly you think you are…)

Writing is a job, but it’s not that kind of job.  It’s not digging ditches or making grommets on an industrial estate in Droitwich.  There’s no correlation between the quality of the work and how hard you make the task, or even how much time you spend on the piece.

The correlation is between quality and how quickly, and deeply, and for how long you can immerse yourself in that state of flow – that’s where the brilliance of a piece of writing truly materialises. And you find that immersion when you’re stimulated, not when your surroundings or routine have stultified your brain into jelly.

I write in the garden, in the pub, the cafe, on aeroplanes and trains, on moorland, parks, in a castle, at a zoo, even, once, at the top of the Empire State Building…

I can see the results.  When I’m bored, the writing suffers.  When I’m stimulated by the surroundings, I write better, faster, produce more.

So here’s the thing: for the next year I’m going to document, photographically, some of the places I write – and I’m actively going to seek out unusual locations.  I’ll publish the results here or on the James Wilde Facebook page.  There will be links on Twitter too.  And I’ll use the hashtag #YOWD (Year of Writing Dangerously) so you can search and follow the trail.

And I’d like to throw this open to any other writers – published or soon-to-be published, or not-really-caring-about-being published.  If you’ve got a smartphone, there’s an app – frontback – which is perfectly suited to taking a photo of your location and you in it.  Use the hashtag and let us all see where you’ve created great things, then tell us if it works for you.

Throw off your shackles and be free!

The Devil’s Army – Out Today

Hereward2

Hereward The Devil’s Army is published in paperback today.

I wanted to add a brief note of thanks to all who bought the first novel and are thinking of buying this one.  The book publishing market has never been tougher, and it’s only with the support of readers that any one-man-band author can get any traction.  I’m truly grateful for any and all support.

If you liked the book, then a brief review on Amazon *really* helps – the company pushes books that get a lot of review attention or likes.  Even just mentioning the novel to a family member or friend is great.  With thousands of books published every year, it’s easy to get missed in the torrent.

To all readers, I salute you – thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell these stories.

Reader Recommendations

For once, it’s not all about me, me, me… If you found your way here after plucking Hereward off the shelves of your local supermarket or bookstore (and I’m including virtual shelves here, as we career headlong into the 21st century…), you may well be wondering what to read next.

If you want to dawdle in the age of Saxons and Normans, blood, mud and cold stone for a little longer, why not take a look at James Aitcheson and his novel Sworn Sword, or the marvellously sprawling epic Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon.

But with the whole of history to investigate, don’t stop there. Anthony Riches, Ben Kane and M C (Manda) Scott offer bloody battles and intrigue in the days of Rome.

And if Hereward has given you a taste for other great English heroes, try Angus Donald’s new tales of Robin Hood.

Finally, for those who prefer a sprinkling of the fantastic on their history, take a look at M D Lachlan’s myths of vikings and werewolves.

More to follow…!

New Facebook Site Now Live

If you’re on Facebook, head on over to www.facebook.com/manofmercia and ‘like’ the page. It’ll be a more chatty site than here, where I talk about things I’m doing and places of interest that I’m visiting, as well as historical news items of note.

There’ll also be some exclusive content in the form of extracts, competitions and the like – and if you want to talk to me, that’s the place (or Twitter!)