Writing is a weird job. You find yourself looking foward to each publication milestone–the book’s appearance in the publisher’s catalog, the arrival of the first galleys, the first industry review, the first finished author’s copy, publication date–and each one proves to be less than satisfying. The truth is that the real satisfaction of the work lies in the sense of accomplishment you have at the end of a working day, when you’ve taken a random collection of facts and shaped them into some sort of coherent story.

No matter how many times I tell myself that, I find that I still haven’t grasped it. I’m still always looking forward to the next publication milestone, and always thinking that the NEXT one will be far more fulfilling.

The temptation to always look ahead, to what’s BOUND to be more satisfying than the present: perhaps that’s not so different from other jobs.

So after this week’s milestone (“official” publication day, March 26), it’s back to work as usual. This week I rooted out the REAL King Wenceslaus (ruler of the medieval Slavic kingdom of Bohemia from 925-935) and discovered that the most prized relic of the early Middle Ages was the Mandylion, a cloth that was said to have the face of Jesus miraculously imprinted on it, as a message to the king of the city of Edessa that he would be healed.

Who knew? Maybe you did, Gentle Readers, but I sure didn’t.

Outside of the office, the approach of spring means that there’s lots more outside work to do all of a sudden. This week I helped prune fruit trees for the first time (something I’ve always left to my father in the past, but I have a sudden desire to know how to do it); the mowers had to be serviced so that we could get ready for the first grass-cutting; there was planting and weeding to be done in the garden (supervised by Grammy),

and my father taught Emily (aged 6) to drive the little tractor and wagon.

Before we cut the grass in the spring, we go around and clear up all the sticks, leaves, rocks, and deer-bones which have accumulated over the winter. This could be a boring job, if it didn’t involve Large Machines. Ben got to drive the Bobcat down to the bottom of the yard in order to pick up a pile of trash; here he comes,

and there he goes

(this scene was just before my father, alarmed by the wild gleam in Ben’s eye, said, “Hop out for a minute, Ben, and let me do this next part).

Next week I’ll try to let you know whether anything’s happening on the publicity front. Enjoy your Palm Sunday.

Showing 5 comments
  • Amy

    I know my kids would love to learn how to drive “Large Machines” : )

    When will your next book be coming out?


  • Susan in TX

    Love the balance that you have at your house with nature and academia! Just wanted to let you know that I was in B&N yesterday (one of those buzz in, buzz out quick trips to pick up one thing), and I saw your new book on the front table! 🙂 At least it’s still on the front table in central Texas.
    Have a great week,
    Susan in TX

  • melissa in VA

    You’ve got a nice brood of future farmers there! 😉 I grew up on a farm, and I have the greatest memories!

    I actually came here to let you know that I got the book the other day. I am blown away by your writing, once again! Seriously. The following is a quote from yours truly, speaking to my husband, that I never thought I’d utter: “I CANNOT put this book on Ancient history down!!”(Received puzzled look in response) Excellent, excellent job. It is easy to read, not because it is simplistic at all, but because it is so engaging.

    Still a huge fan!


  • Jennifer in OR

    While I totally love keeping up on your book stuff, I DIG your farm posts!

  • Diane

    That wild gleam is what has me stalling on driver’s ed. for a certain 15 1/2 y.o. around here.


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