Monday, May 20, 2013

Here we go again...

Happy as can be...well, not quite.

A new book is in the making. Plot plotted -- as far as that goes as I tend to let the story run its own course, much like highland burn in spate.
Not doing so, not sticking to the plot, sometimes results in a wonderful run of words where you feel the ideas and pictures flowing from the fingertips. Sometimes not; sometimes you are so engrossed in the free flow that you literally lose the plot. And weep.

Embarking on a new novel is exciting, yes. Scary too. And writing this book in a new country (Bali, Indonesia) in a new temporary home (my friend Oksana's house) I have everything I need - except for THE chair.

There is a beautiful chair, a large recycled wooden chair, a Daddy Bear chair, but it is NOT MY CHAIR. My chair at home in Viet Nam is a cheap, bought from a supermarket, nasty fabric, office chair, tastefully hidden under a Cambodian Buddha-orange silk blanket and it works just fine, supports the back, doesn't give me varicose veins, and cost about twenty dollars new.

Here in Ubud do you think I can find a chair? Not a hope! I can find endless tourist tat, endless yoga schools, more organic spas and cafes and groceries that even Julia Roberts would ever need. I can find centres for Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, and more isms than I know how to spell, but an office centre, forgedaboutid.

But the writing will happen. It must. Guilt about not writing now outweighs excuses. And too much thinking -- aka procrastination, makes for sleepless nights.
Now it is time and the ripening rice surrounding the house, growing higher than the bedroom windowsills, the late afternoon swallows, followed by early evening bats, followed by early darkness fireflies, followed by diamond studded skies and a moon filling to full, is sheer magic.
Just the place to sooth the savage whatsit. Yeah yeah yeah, eat pray love.

How about write write write? I will, I promise. But first a chair.

Aa the best.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Now is the hour

Now is the hour that longing turns around
For sailors towards what they left behind...
                                        Dante Alighieri.
                                       Translator, Clive James

I have left my home in Viet Nam, temporarily, to try a new setting, with yet to meet new friends, in Ubud, Bali.

Here to regain my health and equanimity, here to write the first draft of a new book, after only four days, the longing for what Ive left behind hit me.
The change of place started in joy soon morphing into, the chair is not right, the desk too high, the insects are different, the sounds unfamiliar.
But now I know that none of this means a thing; it is only that this is not my desk, my chair, my sounds.
and the compensations are too tremendous to complain: fireflies in the early evening dark darting across the rice fields outside the bedroom window; the four hour cremation ceremony yesterday starring a casts of hundreds, a dragon with a twenty metre tail, a giant bull with huge carved horns, a tower creation three stories high with atop the construction, presumably, the bones of the 4 years dead prince; the yoga barn; the massages; the yummy organic food ...Stop. Wait. The Writing? Not yet.

Now is the time to remember what I have left behind. And who.
Now is the time to remember that no matter the environment, the task is the same --to write the best book I possibly can.
Now it is time to lose myself in that world, the Highlands, 1958, the Highland Gazette, to re-join the cast and crew of my invented world, invented yet based on what I know, who I knew, and most of all those remembered hills and mountain, glens and burns, the wind, the air, the rain, and the constant sound of trees moving, water running, and my mother singing. Once upon a time, before she succumbed to the bullying, she sang often.
So now I embark on another novel, I will keep that sound of her singing with me.

And once again, before I start, I have the pivotal scene that leads me into the work. Last time it was nits (head lice).
This time, it is Sunday morning, beach-side mission, Salvation Army tambourine beating the rhythm and we children singing "Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam" whilst all around us the ungodly are trying to catch the rays to turn Scots-white-blue skin a deeper shade of red to prove they have indeed been on holiday if only "doon the water" to the islands in the Firth of Clyde.
Happy Days.

I hope I can pull it off. But then again, that is why I, we, write.

Aa' the best.

PS yet to find a working title ---'Doon the Water' doesn't work in English.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ha, at long last I have discovered how to post a blog -- indeed how to open the whole blooming site, bypassing the Comrades who block Facebook and bloggers.
However, I am a guest in this country and accept what is.

So where was I? A new book? Yep, Beneath the Abbey Wall was duly published in November '12 and, I'm pleased to say, has done well in a modest way.

Next up, North Sea Requiem is now being proof-editd and will be out on September the 3rd this year.

Much more importantly for me, is the new book, the one yet to be written, the one where I know what I want to say and am not sure I can pull it off.

Yeah yeah, always with the doubt. Can't help it. Every time I embark on a new book I am terrified. Once writing that evaporates. Once finished, the doubts creep in again. Then you just have to write another to see if you can improve on the previous. Sounds like one of Dante's circles of hell and it is. But not.

Count you blessings, name them one by one, that was one of the songs we sang in Sunday School. That was the song that stayed with me, shaped me.
So I count my blessings:

I am alive. Never complain about getting old because at least you are alive.
I am healthy(ish) Healthy enough to work, swim, drive a motorbike, travel, dance, behave disgracefully in a bar on the beach (even though I hardly ever drink, I do get drunk on joy)
I earn a living through my writing. Modest living, yes, I'd be poor if I lived in the west but wealthy in the little fisherman's cottage in Viet Nam in the village with no name.
I have friends. Wonderful loving supportive friends.
I have family. Ditto above.
I am off to Bali for 3 months. Off to write. To hide. To write. To retreat. To write. To eat well. To write. To exercise. And write write write.

 So there we have it, this random pick of the many blessings in my life --Wonderful huh?

Aa' the best.