As I mentioned in my last blog post, last year was hectic for me, even stressful at times. It disappeared before I had a chance to sit back and enjoy it. Much as I love doing lecture cruises, from the initial research, putting the presentation together, finding the appropriate illustrations to crafting my spiel to be both informative and entertaining, each lecture takes at least 40 hours to put together, often much longer. Then there’s the practising. It all takes time. Five lecture cruises, each with five or so lectures were just too many. It left little time for writing. My usual output is at least one novel a year. I’d planned on writing another Fiona Mason Mystery. I had my location, which was Paris, and even worked out an itinerary, but try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a plot. I made a couple of false starts but had no inspiration for where to go next. I just couldn’t whip up the enthusiasm for it.
Consequently, this year, I laid out two goals for myself – to take life more easily and to write and publish another travel mystery. I accepted one cruise for the coming year and that’s not until the summer, so it was time to marshal my ideas for what I hope will be the first of my Murder at Sea Mysteries.
Things began quite well on the writing front. I’m no plotter but I had an idea, sorted out my location, my victim, my murderer, at least one more suspect and my investigator. For the first ten days, I managed to write a thousand words each day. My usual output is around 500 which is what I try to set as my goal. I have to confess, when ideas are fresh and enthusiasm is high, the words often fall onto the page at the start of a novel.
Then I got the email from my favourite cruise line! One of the lecturers had had to pull out of a 14-day trip from Rome to Athens via the Holy Land in two weeks’ time. Could I provide five lectures related to the itinerary? I had four suitable talks and decided I could cobble enough from two other presentations I’d already done for the fifth, so I said yes.
Both my goals were under threat. I spent the next two weeks busy re-writing my talks. Work on the novel had to stop.
I did scribble a few words for the next scene in my notebook on the plane from London, however, once I arrived on board, there was another email, could I stay on for the following 10 days on a cruise around the Aegean!
Life on board is all go. Any spare time not ashore, giving or attending lectures, I’m practising my presentations or trying to keep on top of my emails. I haven’t given a thought to my novel, and I think it will probably not be until we get back that I can pick up on where I left off. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll remember all the ideas floating around at the back of my mind slowly taking shape.
With all the troubles going on around us today on so many fronts, and the real hardship faced by so many people, I can’t help feeling a little guilty and all the wonderful opportunities that have fallen into my lap. Today – for me – the Holy Land awaits and I’m off to walk the land that Jesus trod.