Semper Idem – Cicero

“Always the Same” – I can only assume Cicero was referring to life’s mundanity. Nothing ever changes. From IT to a writer soon to publish novel 16, how can that be, at least for work?

Let’s start by talking numbers. Sixteen books are approximately 1 280 000 words (excluding those dropped during the dev edit stage). Put another way, 5 600 pages, not that high, despite constantly being asked how my productivity rate is so high. When I worked in IT as a writer and editor, the recognised daily rate was 8 pages a day (at least by those companies who take documentation quality seriously). At that rate, I would have produced 8 800 pages during the same period. But of course, tech doc has a much lower density of words, tables and graphics, taking up a fair percentage of the available space. There is a maximum of 200 words per page in a tech doc, probably averaging around 150, making 1 320 000, which is almost the same. Or as Cicero would have said, fere semper idem.

So, let’s look at working practices (I will ignore the pandemic for this discussion). When I was employed in IT, I started working at 9:00; I took breaks during the day; I had a lunch break from 12:00 to 13:00 and finished work at 18:00. I rarely took my work home. The methodology was Agile processing, Epics and Stories, stand-ups and sprints, scrum managers, product managers and teams. Since I began writing novels for a living, I start work at 9:00; I take breaks during the day; I have a lunch break from 12:00 to 13:00 and finish working at 18:00. I rarely take work away from home. My work methodology is based on Agile: I still have Epics and Stories and work in sprints. I’m a team of one, so the stand-ups and the managers are missing, which is still not much of a change. Still fere semper idem.

So, it appears Cicero was nearly right, but should that be depressing? Should I look at my new career in those terms?

For me, there are two takeaways. Nearly is not the same as always, which is small comfort; what is a considerable comfort is I’m now doing what I always wanted to do. I wrote my first novel when I was still a teenager, which was pure nonsense for sure, but no less of an achievement for that. It’s hard being a novelist. Very few writers are successful. Of course, I would welcome success, but it is not essential when doing what I love, or as Cicero might have said, facis quod amo.

Am I depressed? I would be lying if I said there are no moments of self-doubt, which is normal throughout life. So, bring it on!

You can check out the latest book, After Gairech, a historical murder mystery, here: 🇬🇧 🇺🇸

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