Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thurso as 'Fierce, dreamy town'

This has been a bumper season for Caithness Writers with our new anthology published and novella and short story collection by Morag McRae and Margaret McKay and Catherine Byrne also with new works. The immediate prompts are George Gunn and his efforts to launch a Creative Writing program through the local college coupled with the effects of the support and learning that Caithness Writers as a formal group gives each other.

At the heart of all this creativity, though, is Caithness. I've been here almost a dozen years now and I am only beginning to scratch the surface of this strange and wonderful and frustrating and challenging place. The first review of my novella included the words above, characterizing Thurso as a 'fierce, dreamy town.' The description was so apt that I carried it around in the pocket of my mind for a while. This photo, another one of the series from which I picked cover photo, suggests the dreamy quality with the sepia tones of a twilight and the soft luster of the water lingering after the retreating tide on the beach.

The creativity of course is not limited to writing, but the sun is shining now and so I must adhere to the first rule of living here on the edge. When the day is good, stop everything and go outside. Tomorrow I'll talk about fierce.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gearing up for the Long Dark

I have been looking at the top of this, peering out above a stack of things to do for some months now. As if struggling like the Little Engine that could to get up the hill, 'with enough,' 'with enough,' with enough...'

Today I (finally) got it on my wall so that as I roll out of bed in the morning, it will be the first thing I see. It is good sentiment, it has sparkly letters to pick up the least bit of light, and it was a gift, so everything about it will be an antidote for the malaise that the long dark season imposes on us all.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fat Quarters Quilters Exhibition at Murkle Hall 2015

From the moment I entered the hall, I felt the excitement of a well thought exhibition. A row of lovely shiny Vintage Singer sewing machines marked the boundary into the world of traditions of stitchery. The technology changes--a bit--but the concepts and the creative energy persist.

I wrote a few words to accompany the professional photographs destined for the paper, but here--for those who can't be here--and one person from here who can't be in Iowa just now, I offer my own photographs as a way of connecting.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cover Image for My Novella

This is the beautiful cover designed for me by Trish Logan at Beyond Words, Inc. in Indianapolis. For some reason not yet sussed, it is not appearing as a thumb nail on the page, but it is included in the book. I think the next time Amazon uploads file, the cover will be there. In the meantime, here it is. Thanks again, Trish.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Almost an author

After a year to write it and revise it and check it and reflect on it and get friends to read it and proof it and format it, I was ready to Kindle it. And then the Amazon interface could not accept a UK address for a 'US person' for tax purposes. And so I wrote to Kindle support and they seemed nonplussed--surely I am not the only US person with only one address?  But after a month of waiting, the tax interview address now has 'State' as optional and tho my wee cottage name gets a bright red 'corrected' by it, nonetheless it accepts it.

I thought I was moving into the nitty gritty of actually uploading my file and crossing that Rubicon into the honourable territory of 'Published Author', but no. Now it's bank information. None of the digits on my bank card (and there seem to be quite a lot of them!) match the little boxes on the screen. I'll go to town and ask the bank folks for the magic numbers for my account, and then perhaps I'll be able to cross the threshold.

Meanwhile, please keep my wee novella in your thoughts: Returning: The Journey of Alexander Sinclair should be on Amazon by the end of the week.  Surely, there can be no more hurdles!

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Long Farewell to Trees

Once again after the return from my annual migration back Stateside, I took a step wise route, including sleeping in a family house with the happy clatter of kitchen noises and people around me. Then we drove up along the west to enjoy the lovely trees of Perth as long as we could. The glorious colours of the mature broad leafed trees gave way to boreal forest--birches and alders and larch and pine and then the grasses took over. The colours of the grasses and reeds against the backdrop of the round brown hills was a welcome sight. I've learned to see their beauty.

Today in the golden light I walked up the road to the loch and caught this scene--through the hedge to the harvested field beyond and the hills in the distance. Bonny spot, eh? Birds wittering in the hedges, cows not bothering to look up, swans probably busy gleaning in some farmer's field. If  I waited a while longer, I could watch them come flying back to the loch, coming back home, but I have things to do myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In the Shadow of the Memorial

Indianapolis has a long standing tradition of military service. There is a large mall in the centre of town dedicated to war memorials. This is one of the grandest, but the area of the war memorials (and now one path celebrating peace) is also home for the homeless.

Here's a prose poem --well, at least that's what I called it because I'm in a poetry class-- that I wrote about my recent walking in this area.

Downtown is the place of pillars and plaques and grand statues to others who believed in BIG things. I want to believe in BIG things but cannot help but notice that only the honoured dead sleep peacefully in marble surrounded by pillars with golden eagles atop. Homeless men sleep curled awkwardly on the cement steps beneath a giant brass urn out of sight of the eagles.
In the shadow of Scottish Rite Cathedral in the broad grassy space devoted to remembering war with the honoured dead and Blue Star highway marker and Avengers of the Bataan, I could hear the skirl of bagpipes on quiet Sunday afternoons. I liked the sound before I knew the word. Now there is a narrow thread of peace running through this neighbourhood of too much death. Homeless sleep here, too, perhaps more peacefully. This path remembers BIG things that did not require death. I walk more easily here, camera in hand, among the homeless waking to their day and the lean runners and pensioners strolling purposefully. The homeless and I have more leisure, both a step out of time and place.