Much as I loath it when anyone answers ‘How are you?’ with ‘Busy’, I have to confess that for the past few weeks, I’ve been overcommitted.
I don’t make a habit of it. Not only am I a recovered workaholic, thanks to being post-Catholic I’m also largely post-guilt and usually pretty good at saying no. But sometimes great opportunities all come at once and you can’t say no any more than you can tell an ebullient six-year-old to cease reading aloud.
First I had an end-October deadline for the structural edits on the new Jayne Keeney novel, The Dying Beach.
At the same time, I thought I might finesse what I’d written about literary walks on my brief trip to Europe in August as a travel piece; this appeared last weekend in several News Ltd publications as On the Wilde side of town.
I also said yes to a guest speaking gig at the Thornbury Women’s Neighbourhood House annual women’s dinner. My day job is in the Neighbourhood House sector and I normally avoid mixing the two. But this was an irresistible opportunity to talk about work-life balance with a group of women who tend to be very bad at it — as I once was — and to encourage them to nurture their creative impulses. As I’d done a fun gig at Glen Eira Libraries only a couple of weeks earlier for their Reading Circle on Crime Fiction, I figured I might as well stay on a roll…
Meanwhile, building on my recent research into Agatha Christie, I agreed to write an article on the connection between archaeology and crime fiction for the NSW Writers Centre’s magazine Newswrite. This gave me the opportunity to interview crime writing colleagues about the relationship between their lives and skills and the experience and attributes they give to their fictional detective characters — a rich seam of ideas I may well mine in a future series of posts.
In the midst of all this, the line-up for the Crime and Justice Festival was announced. I’m delighted to be appearing as both a session chair and panellist.
Because of all the above, I told Radio National I wouldn’t be available to do any book reviews until late-November. But they offered me the new JK Rowling novel A Casual Vacancy, to review on air Friday 9 November. And how could I say no the author who The Guardian Weekly calls ‘Her Literary Majesty’ — even if it was more than 500 pages long?
Now I’ve finished the novel, the two articles, the speaking engagements, the preparation for the Crime and Justice Festival and the JK Rowling book. Post the panic about deadlines, I find myself with a few days to spare. Part of me questions the quality of the work I’ve done– i.e. surely it can’t be any good if I’m no longer stressed? A more sane part thinks maybe all the time I spent thinking, reflecting and preparing might’ve paid off.
For now I’m going to attribute meeting my commitments to adrenaline, denial and making time for idle thoughts. A recipe that worked for me.
What recipe works for you?