I didn't plan it this way, but it turns out that 'E' in my blog alphabet coincides with Easter. The first 'commission' I ever had was to write the story of the crucifixion and resurrection for my school newspaper. It was a small village Church of England primary school with only about 40 pupils, and I was one of the oldest, aged around 10. It was in the days when one of the three teachers had to type up the contents and roll all the pages off a duplicator.
    I wasn't thrilled to be asked. It was only extra homework, as far as I was concerned and anyway, I hadn't got a clue how to write it. When I complained to my mother she was less than sympathetic. She explained that it was an honour to be chosen, and that it meant the headmaster thought I was capable of doing a good job. At that time, I thought I'd rather not be good at English if it meant spending the weekend doing homework that no one else had to do, but I stuck at it. The assignment provided me with an early lesson in the discipline and pleasure of meeting deadlines.
    The headmaster was happy with what I wrote, and when the newspaper with my piece on the front page came out, I was so pleased that I kept it. The work you're commissioned to write sometimes isn't what you would choose for yourself, but the results are often far better when you aren't given the opportunity to be self-indulgent. I still have that newspaper today.
    Speaking of deadlines: another week has flown past in the countdown to the publication of Discord's Apprentice. I'm still aiming at early June, and I'll announce the exact date in plenty of time. I haven't done it yet because I don't want to jinx myself.