I sat at the desk in my room.
I looked at the view. It was stunning. I drank it in for a very long time. What you can’t see in this picture is the mini festival going on in the garden - the traveller vans and caravans belonging to the volunteers constructing the eco tutorial studio just below my window. Their gentle hammering and the hazy sunshine soon worked their soporific magic and every now and then I had to succumb to the tantalisingly close bed (it was a very small room) and take a nap. Between naps I wandered downstairs for a coffee and a scone and a bit of sun on my face and a chat with whoever else was around. I read through the writing I’d already done and I tinkered with it. I thought about the premise of my novel (as advised by Kevin) and let my mind wander off to possibilities of how far to expand the protagonist’s broken familial relations. I didn’t write a single new word until day four. I was stymied by the worry that what I had done so far was good, but that I needed to plan what was to come, to make sure it carried on being good. On top of this, my worry about the reading ceilidh on the final night suddenly kicked in. A traditional Scottish dinner of haggis & neeps: Great! Walking in with a piper: Great! Drinking whisky: Great! Me doing a reading: Terrible!
A few people had done their readings the night before. They were the ones relaxing back into the sofas, slowly supping their drams of whisky. I was the one knocking it back even though I can’t stand the stuff. I had negotiated being one of the first readers on this evening, desperate to get it out of the way. I had that stepping on to a plane feeling again. It sounds ridiculous, but I actually didn’t think I could do it. I was going to nose-dive and fall flat on my face. The words wouldn’t come out. My heart would beat so fast I would explode. Thanks to my roomie, Mairi (we didn’t share an actual room but the walls were very thin and our rooms were very close) I had been put through my paces in a practise reading with her earlier in the day. I very rarely let anyone read my writing. I never speak in public. Put these two things together and it’s like having two bullocks in my path. That practise session really helped but even so, the crippling fear never left me. But I’m a grown up, I can’t just run away. I’d enjoyed listening to my fellow writers sharing their work after getting to know them during the week. I had to do this.
So I did. I read the first very short chapter of my crime novel and an even shorter flash fiction story. And then we moved on to the next reading and the next. I didn’t pass out and I didn’t get trampled.
So, to the ghosts of the many bullocks that sheltered in the barn before it was converted into Monicak Mhor’s wonderful living room and where the readings took place, I raise my whisky glass to you.