12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



Writing Routines

Just read an article on different authors’ writing routines, and was thinking it might be quite fun to try them all across the year to see whether they work for me.  The obsessive routines of C.S.Lewis and Toni Morrison would undoubtedly do wonders for my productivity, but I wonder whether I would come to associate writing with all that I hate in life (very early mornings, not being able to do anything spontaneous, and suchlike).

Some might prove more difficult than others, though – will need to procure a dog from somewhere for Wordsworth‘s technique, and I’m not sure how well George Sand‘s 2 year affair strategy would go down with my partner…  But it would be interesting to see how standing up to write would affect my productivity, as per Philip Roth, or how my body would react to a minimum 50 cups of coffee a day like Balzac.

AD 39, June 10th

Today is the first anniversary of Drusilla’s death.

It’s clear to everyone that I need cheering up, so to that end I have commissioned a statue of myself.  It shall be like me in height, appearance – every respect, in fact.  But instead of marble or bronze, he shall be cast in purest gold.  Perhaps jeweled eyes, although I think that might just look a bit strange.  And every day he shall be arrayed in the exact attire that I have chosen to wear that day.  I will need to employ someone whose specific task that will be.

Why?  Because I can.  I am the emperor of Rome, after all.

Caligula in Love

37 AD
July 8th

OK, so you know when you meet someone unexpectedly, and you just click?

I don’t mean like when you fancy someone and make them your mistress either.  I mean when you see a Roman noblewoman across a crowded dance floor – a classy bird, the sort you can marry if you’re an emperor without having to worry whether she’ll be accepted by the senate, and the people, and anyone else who has the capacity to make life difficult.  The kind of woman who’s good looking and erudite, and essentially ticks all the boxes.

You’ve probably guessed this already, but I met such a woman at Cassius Piso’s wedding the other night, and I have decided to marry her.

The only trouble is, she’s the bride.

His bride, I mean.  Livia Orestilla.


How Twitter Helps

The @12books12months twitterfeed is a terrifying and time consuming place.  I follow authors, agents, publishers and book bloggers from all over the world and am constantly bombarded with links to articles about writing, publishing and blogging.  Interesting, but overwhelming.

This evening I’ve read a few that stood out, so I thought I would link them.

10 Ways to Tell You Have Author Potential is fairly self explanatory title.  I seem to tick some, but not all of the boxes.

How to Become A Better Writer is one of many posts that appear almost daily on this theme, and covers the bases as well as any.

The Influence of Anxiety is the most interesting of the three, because rather than give hints and tips on what we ought to be doing it focuses on what a lot of authors actually do, including taking ages over one tiny bit of writing, procrastinating, and comparing oneself to everyone else and coming up short (easier than ever before thanks to twitter, facebook and blogging).

Meanwhile, another #WIP

April 28th

Festival of Floralia begins today.  We’re having more games in the Circus Maximus to celebrate, at which the people will be showered with beans.  My idea.  It’ll be really funny to watch, but also they won’t mind, because they’re being given free food.  Brilliant.


Slightly too long for a #WIP (a thing on Twitter where you post 140 characters worth of a work in progress to get feedback) so thought I would post it here.

Just heard that my order to let Sextus Papinius go was somehow misconstrued as “execute him.”  Honestly, communications in this place are a nightmare. I’m not being racist, but I think it’s because there are slaves from all over the empire and frankly a lot of their Latin is absolutely appalling.  Anyway, long story short, Papinius is no more.

A Side Note

If you’re at all interested in what I’m doing when not writing about Caligula, this post is for you.  I wouldn’t want you to get the impression I’m doing nothing but faffing about on Wikipedia trying to work out roughly when each of his senators died under mysterious circumstances (although the timeline is taking up quite a lot of time and effort at the moment, and it’s making my brain feel sad).

Until the end of February I am blogging about song lyrics on my ‘professional‘ blog in support of UNESCO’s Let’s Get Lyrical campaign.  So far I’ve mentioned the lyrical stylings of The Smiths, Justin Timberlake, Willow Smith, Amanda Palmer, Sisqo, *NSync, Razorlight and Avril Lavigne.

I try to write about something or other daily on my personal blog, often television (particularly Scottish soap River City) and things that have annoyed me in my internet travels.  This tends to involve a bit of backdating.

This week I’ve also been conducting interviews and writing articles for The Broughton Spurtle and The Edinburgh Reporter, which are both hyperlocal news sites in Edinburgh.  And I’ve gotten involved with a new page of satirical Scottish news stories, called I We Two Three.

It’s good to vary one’s output.

Burns Night

Today I have mostly been researching Roman Feast Days that might have given Caligula an excuse to organise a party or three, and watching MTV Classic – easily the best of all the MTV channels, it turns out.  90s hour is particularly fun.

Some of the festivals include:

January 15th – Festival of the Ass

This was not a tribute to bootylicious Roman ladies, but a commemoration of the time the goddess Vesta was saved by a donkey.  Oh come on, you remember that story!  She was the daughter of Saturn the fertility god?  Known for her chastity?  In lieu of rohypnol a shady character by the name of Priapus decided to try and do the nasties with her whilst she was asleep?  But a donkey brayed and woke her up so she escaped?  Surely everyone knows this….

February 15th – Lupercalia

Celebration of the she-wolf who suckled Romulus & Remus. A load of priests got together in a cave, sacrificed a goat, and anointed the Lupercii – young blokes – with the blood. Then some other priests wiped the blood away, using milk, like the wolf would have done I suppose.  The boys then skinned the goat and ripped the hide into strips which they tied around their waists.  Oh, did I mention they were topless?  Well they were.  Then they then got pissed and ran around Rome whacking everyone they met with these goatskin thongs.   As in the aforementioned strips of hide, not the pants favoured by Sisqo.  Young women who got in the way were thought to be blessed, especially in terms of fertility and procreation.  Go them.

June 11th – Matralia

To celebrate the goddess Mater Matuta, her statue was decorated with garlands by single women or women who had been married once.  They also cooked her cakes in clay pots.  Those are the best kind of cakes, don’t you think?  One female slave was allowed into temple on this day, and as part of the festivities she’d be ritually slapped on the head and then chased out of the building.  BANTER.

Compared to his peers, you have to wonder whether Caligula was actually as eccentric as they say…

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