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Happy happy happy day!

Well November is over and so is my book – hurrah!

Actually it’s not.  I did what I set out to do and wrote 50,000 words.  Well actually I didn’t, I wrote 65,000 but a few vital scenes are missing so my book isn’t technically finished.  Although I have written the ending already I’m holding off writing ‘The End’ until all the bits in the middle are done as I hear those are the most satisfying words.

It’s been an amazing month.  I’ve managed to write almost every day and my life is still pretty much as I left it.  The house is a bit of a mess and my husband may be a little ratty but to the discerning eye I don’t think there is that much of a visible difference.

Sadly I feel this may just have been the easy bit.  Although I’ve produced 65,000 words I would say that at least 30,000 are incorrectly spelled.  Sometimes it was just too exciting and I couldn’t stop to spellcheck. Grammatical errors abound and I tend to become obsessed with one adjective and use it four times in a pragraph – most irritating.  So now I need to edit.  Sadly there isn’t a month dedicated to editing with a counter marking off how many spelling errors one has corrected. However I have found something to motivate me.  There’s a writing competition I really want to enter which closes at the end of February.  Therin lies the problem.  Apparently it should take at least a couple of years to write a novel (try telling that to Alexander McCall Smith!) and I’m aiming to have done it in four months.  I’m not sure I’ve got the guts to do what I have to do. I love the male lead so much that he kept sneaking back in even though this wasn’t supposed to be a romantic novel so unless I want to market it as a gory Mills and Boon I suspect rather a lot of lingering looks and sardonic smiles are going to end up on the metaphorical cutting room floor.  Perhaps I should just cut my losses and walk away so I can talk whimsically about the wonderful book I wrote once but ‘didn’t try to get published as the world just wasn’t ready’.

Anyway I’ve always wanted to write a book and now I have.  The satisfyingly large pile of pages taking up space on our worktop attests to that fact.  Now I’ve done it once I know I can do it again so if this one is no good – and everybody says first novels are crap, I know I can try again.

Meanwhile the world has continued turning without me.  One of my friends has had a new baby and despite her obligingly being eleven days late my knitted gift is not yet complete.  The ducklings are no longer ducklings and I’m beginning to feel less cool about the two named Christmas and Dinner.  Sally lamb is hanging out with the tups and is probably pregnant although she still left her buddies on Tuesday to follow us all down to the beach.  Fat Tracey has taken to guerrilla egg laying.  First I found a cache of 3o eggs in the bracken outside the garden then this morning we found ten in the garden, I feel so betrayed.

Maybe my next novel will have to be an expose of cruel battery hen farming methods – Fat Tracey take note!

Here’s a brief excerpt from the great work:

“The body laid out before us is that of a 65 year old man.  He has long skinny arms and legs and a large paunch.  His chest is partly covered by a long, unkempt beard and a tattoo of a large breasted woman who is giving us a lascivious wink.  His fingernails are also long and stained with tobacco, his toenails curl over at the ends.  His abdomen is tinged with green, the skin stretched tight.  The skin of his feet and hands is wrinkled, thickened and white.  The soles of his feet have peeled away and lie next to him on the gurney like a pair of discarded flip flops.”

 

helen and sally in the gardenFollowed by a picture of my children, because that’s not weird!

Illicit activity

I am being unfaithful.  I’m cheating on my novel with my blog.  Kind of like Charles and Camilla.  I know it’s wrong but I just can’t stop myself from going back……

I’m going to have to leave the Royal family analogy now though as part of the reason I have returned to my blog is vanity.  Yes, it turns out my artistic ego is not above swelling in response to gentle massage.  Over the last few days several people told me that they liked my blog.  One person also told me that some of my posts weren’t very good but we’ll leave that aside for now. It’s nice to receive compliments.  So far although I have produced over 10,000 words of top quality crime-fiction nobody has told me they like my book.  Admittedly nobody has been allowed to read my book so far, indeed the rules of NaNoWriMo even prohibit me from reading my own work back as I’m not supposed to edit anything.  This is proving awkward as I have now forgotten the names of two minor characters.

Blogging about my novel is completely acceptable though.  Indeed I’ve learned over the last week that the most important component to being a writer is to talk about your writing, once people stop listening you should start writing about writing, but don’t actually write anything, unless it’s about writing.

A lot of people have wondered how I have the time to write a book.  So far I have claimed that  I don’t know.  However I’ve given this some thought and obviously I must know as I am doing it.  So I’ve compiled a  short list:

Things I have given up in order to write my novel:

  1. Reality television (apart from the Apprentice and Strictly come dancing)
  2. Baths (please don’t be alarmed, I am still washing frequently, however I have exchanged my hour-long bath for a very quick shower)
  3. Conversation with my husband.  There is this skinny blonde guy who lives in my house, the children seem fond of him but I can’t quite place him
  4. Baking, sadly I have gained 10lbs since the summer so this is a blessing
  5. My blog (ahem)
  6. Reading – I am still allowing myself ten minutes before I go to sleep at night but I am rendered so intellectually stunted by my incessant writing and lack of reality television that I have debased myself to the level of re-reading the 50 shades of grey trilogy – yes I know this is weird, let’s move on.
  7. Computer games – fortunately Allan has taken on the onerous task of caring for our virtual dragon farm, what would I do without him?
  8. Sleep – is for losers
  9. Any form of exercise – see above
  10. Photography – sorry no pictures!

So there you have it.  Anybody can write a book as long as you are willing to ignore your husband, stop washing, exercising and sleeping and only eat ready meals. In fact I’m finding it so easy I’ve taken on a really complicated knitting project as well.

I may be gone some time…………

I’ve been told to warn you so here it is.  My blog may be somewhat neglected during the month of November.  Those of you who stuck with me during the distinctly dry months of August and September will be rolling your eyes and cursing my fecklessness.  Wait though!  This time it’s not what you think.  This time I am will be abandoning my blog for a worthy cause.  Yes it’s true – once more into the breach dear friends.  I am to throw myself upon my sword, do battle with my nemesis, pee into the wind.  I’m going to write a book!

I have this friend who has a really irritating habit of finishing what she starts.  It drives me insane.  I am much more of an initial enthusiasm kind of girl, you know the sort of person who throws themself into something 110% (sorry too much x-factor) and then…………………..oh look a butterfly……  A couple of years ago this friend told me about something called National Novel Writing Month or as those in the know call it NaNoWriMo.  The idea is that you sign up with this site and commit yourself along with thousands of other crazed lunatics to write 50,000 words during the month of November.  You have a rolling word count tool and somewhere you can post excerpts from your work so all of your fans can read them.  She was very enthusiastic and I remember feeling quite smug as a veteran writer of first chapters and thinking to myself “ha, no way will you finish this”.  Of course she did – like I said she’s annoying that way.

I’ve finally reached the stage where I don’t think I can survive much longer without actually writing a book.  obviously I’m proud of my achievements so far – 372 abandoned Mill and Boon’s (one formal rejection), several embryonic fantasy novels and 20,000 words on the life of Pontius Pilate but I think I need more.  I think for once in my life I really need to finish what I’ve started.

Support from my family has been pretty minimal.  Sally threw herself off the toy ambulance several times in protest yesterday afternoon then staged a no sleep campaign last night.  Helen is disinterested but did tell me  that my book wasn’t as good as her website.  Oh yes, Helen has her own website.  Often she’ll start singing little songs or quoting poetry which apparently are from her website.  Believe me if I ever work out the URL you guys will be the first to know! Allan’s lack of enthusiasm has been the hardest to bear though.  He told me last night that he thought I did have a book in me but he didn’t think that this was the right time or the right book.  Harsh.  You must remember that he is a deeply damaged man.  Last time I was really serious about writing a book we ended up spending a week in Israel looking at Roman remains and driving a lot closer to the Gazza strip than either of us was completely comfortable with.  Anyway, I’ll show him, that’s why I’m on here blogging.

NaNo whatsity thing doesn’t start until November (no shit Sherlock) but I’m so excited I’ve started already.  Once I know exactly how to link to excerpts I will try to link them to my blog.  Those of you who enjoy my whimsical tales of ducks and hens will be sorely disappointed  – I’ve gone back to my darkest time and made my main character a female pathologist living in Edinburgh.  I imagine I will probably become the next Ian Rankin – except I’ll be a girl who writes about ducks and  hens mainly with the odd murder thrown in.

Anyway here is the line that caught my eye when I started up my laptop at work this morning.

 

“You can’t slam the doors; they’re soft close so he kicks the filing cabinet in our office on his way out.  I sigh and calmly
go about removing the brain.”

 

Oh yeah and for those of you who think I was joking about the trip to Israel…………………..

 

Here I am in the ruined city of Caeserea pretending to drive a chariot – he’s lucky this book is set in Edinburgh.

 

 

50 shades of fuss

I have always known deep down inside that there was no way I wouldn’t like 50 shades of grey.

You see I am a woman who is deeply in touch with the side of her that likes bad fiction. The happiest year of my life was the one where I had a subscription to Mills and Boon. Once a month I would come home to a little parcel of joy. I would read insatiably, briefly transported to a world where it didn’t matter that my husband didn’t know how to work the washing machine and my job didn’t involve washing poo out of other people’s colons. Sadly the romantic fiction clearly worked a little too well. I got pregnant and during the ensuing austerity measures my Mills and Boon subscription was cancelled.

What has made me cross about 50 shades (as we fans like to call it) is the amount of abuse it seems to attract. I have had a lot of time to observe this as I am working on an important project which involves me being sat in front of my computer for eight hours a day. The internet calls…………. It (50 shades) is classed as ‘mummy porn’, ‘the worst book I have ever read’ ‘a waste of time’.

The fact that I liked this book so much has caused rather an existentialist crisis.

I don’t think I am stupid. My academic performance would suggest that I am of above average intelligence although most of my academic achievements were garnered before I became a mummy so perhaps my IQ has dropped a few points. I have read lots of books that are considered good literature. But if I am being completely honest the only classic that has ever captivated me the way 50 shades did was Jane Eyre and, while we’re on the whole honesty drive here, Jane Eyre is just 50 shades of grey without the spanking.

Feeling that I somehow need to justify my enjoyment of this book has really made me think about what we consider ‘good literature’. I have read so many criticisms that this book is badly written. What exactly does that mean? There aren’t any spelling mistakes, the male protagonist doesn’t appear to develop a third hand during a sex scene (this actually happened in a book I read once, it was most disconcerting). Yes the dialogue is peppered with clichés but the thing about clichés is that they have become clichés because people are constantly using them. People learn their sexual dialogue from the media, the media is full of clichés and so it perpetuates. I remember criticising the heroine in the original King Kong film because all she did was scream and kick her legs. A friend then pointed out that if a giant ape caught hold of me and started climbing the empire state building I would be unlikely to remember my best vocabulary and would probably scream and kick my legs. Would those who criticise the book have preferred it if there had been more intellectual chit chat between the lovers?

‘Oh gosh I believe I may be about to ejaculate I do hope that is acceptable to you and will not offend your feminist principles’

‘Please desist at once my good man, I am not using any form of hormonal contraception and I do fear an unwanted pregnancy.’

Is this how other people talk when they are having sex?

Another criticism of the book is the author’s constant reference to her subconscious and her inner goddess. I don’t have an inner goddess but I’m delighted for anyone who does. I do however have an extremely active inner monologue and it enjoyed the book too.  At least I think it did.  It certainly stayed quiet when I was reading it.  Part of the reason I liked this book was because I felt that I identified with the female lead. I found her believable, she often didn’t know what to do – I often don’t know what to do. She feels unattractive – I often feel unattractive (although actually I believe she is very beautiful really, sadly I am not), she has negative voices in her head………………..ok enough along those lines.

Maybe the book is badly written but what does that mean in this day and age? People aren’t reading anymore. We spend most of our time watching movies or box sets on our electronic devices. Or we communicate via Twitter and Facebook. I know people who proudly state they don’t read books, only magazines. Suddenly a book comes along that these people want to read. A whole new (old) media has been opened up to the masses but a certain subgroup of the population are standing in the corner tut-tutting and muttering to each other ‘she doesn’t use nearly enough metaphors.’ I have read the whole of David Copperfield (and that is three weeks of my life I would dearly like back). Is it well written? Apparently so. Did I enjoy reading about every little piece of scenery along the way in the minutest detail? No I did not.

There is nothing new in 50 shades of grey.  It is a love story. There is a little bit of spanking. It’s not erotic fiction, it’s not porn, and it’s certainly not mummy porn (although I am a mummy so maybe I am blinded by this). It is the age old tale of two people trying to reconcile their differences in order that they can build a life together.

I like populist fiction. I liked Twilight, I liked The Hunger Games. I like reading compelling, fast paced stories about characters who remind me a little bit of myself. I like being transported to another world where I don’t have to worry about the mould along the side of our bath. So there it is, I’ve outed myself. I will probably lose half of my followers and most of my friends on Facebook. I will be ousted from the book festival committee least I contaminate Ian Rankin with my prole like tendencies. But………..before you all judge me………just try reading it. Take your snidey, I don’t want to like this so I shan’t hat off. Don’t read it out loud to your friends in a supercilious ‘aren’t we clever’ kind of way. Sneak off to your bedroom like a teenager, suspend disbelief and just give it a try. It will only take you four hours which is a lot less time than I invested in David Copperfield…………..

What you still don’t like it?

Is it wrong that I feel a little bit sorry for you?

That's not me by the way

Quid pro quo, I don’t think so!

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I thought the book festival was wonderful mummy!

I know this may seem a little big-headed but I am genuinely beginning to think that The Scotsman may have some sort of vendetta against me.  Yes this seems unlikely but I really cannot think of another explanation for recent goings on.  Perhaps they are so threatened by my blog that they feel the need to pour cold water on my every endeavour least I overtake them and become Scotland’s leading broadsheet.

If you  have the time have a little read of this link and see what you think…………

For those of you who have forsworn The Scotsman after the last piece of guff they wrote about me the precis is if you want people to write nice things about your book festival you have to give them lots of free stuff.

Obviously organising an amazing event, featuring six world class authors, in a beautiful setting with wall to wall sunshine and providing said journalist with a friendly welcome and a free ticket for him and his wife plus a whisky tasting with 6 malt whiskies for only £8 is simply not enough.  We should have sent a runner to the nearest Dolce and Gabanna and fashioned a designer sunglass containing goodie bag out of the skin of our own babies – point taken.

I am apoplectic with rage.  I think what really gets to me is the fact that we all worked so hard to make the festival a success.  Those of you who have small children will understand how difficult it is to co-ordinate childcare especially when you are feeding a baby yourself.  Allan and I had to run around like blue-arsed flies to fit in all of our work commitments and allow me to go to meetings.  Allan and my mum both spent most of the whisky tasting washing glasses in the kitchen despite the fact that they weren’t on the committee, had paid for their tickets and my mum doesn’t even like whisky!! (in fact she can’t even stand the smell, it was torture for her).  On the Saturday morning each committee member turned up and uncomplainingly paid for their own tickets despite the hours of unpaid (and largely unthanked) work we had put in.

To have some bourgeois journalist complaining that he had to pay for his own B&B in order to come and enjoy our idyllic island is almost too much for my blood pressure.  I’m not sure where he thinks we would have got the money to wine and dine him from? Perhaps he was hoping I would chip in a little of this months child benefit and that older members of the committee could have done without fuel this spring and contributed some of their pension?  Most likely he had read the previous article and thought Allan and I could spare a little of our ‘enormous salaries’ to support him.

The book festival was the first community spirited thing I have done since coming back to Colonsay and this has left a very bitter taste in my mouth.  The reason I became involved was to allow myself and other islanders the opportunity to engage in a cultural activity which would normally be outwith our sphere.  With one paragraph I feel that the whole event has been somehow cheapened.  That it is assumed that we want to compete on a national scale and, if so, we will be judged not on the quality of our event but on the quality of our freebies.

Fortunately feedback from the authors – some of whom were happy to stay with friends on the island and all of whom did not receive free accommodation for their partners and families has been more positive.  Colonsay is a magical place.  Some people get it, some don’t.  This guy didn’t and that’s his loss.

Post Book Festival Depression Blues? Not Likely!

They really were here!
(L-R) Sophie Cooke, Margaret Elphinstone, Liz Lochead, (David Johnson - chair), Alexander McCall Smith, Kenneth Steven, James Robertson

Well it’s all over.  The authors have departed and today I spent the whole day playing with my children which was rather nice.  The book festival was great but it’s been quite stressful too.  Not least because Allan and I have been sleeping in a tent for the last four nights.

Sally’s sleeping had been getting steadily worse so we decided that we really needed to face up to the problem and take the dummy away (yes yes we shouldn’t have given her one in the first place – isn’t the retrospectoscope marvellous).  Things were really starting to improve and we decided that the last thing we wanted to do was cause any set backs by both moving back into our bedroom with her whilst Allan’s mum was here.  This left us Helen in her own room, Sally in our bedroom, Beth in the spare room…….oh dear – we had run out of rooms.  Pitching the tent in the garden was my idea and it seemed like rather a masterful plan initially.  Once the 30 mile an hour winds got up I must admit it seemed a little less masterful.  Of course we have all mod cons.  We ran an extension cable out there so we have a bedside lamp and an electric blanket on our air bed so we’re coping.  It’s not so much fun having to walk across the garden to go inside for the 3am feed.  Allan is having the same problem as he has to get up and feed Sally lamb at 4am!  Beth is going tomorrow but she’s the first in a long line of visitors this summer so I fear we may be spending much of the season in the tent.

Anyway on Saturday morning I arose from my tent and after a nourishing breakfast I headed round to the village hall where I was delighted to see a veritable throng of people waiting to collect tickets.  (Well at least 5 or 6).  The sun was shining and there were plenty of people availing themselves of the soup and sandwiches provided by Colonsay Pantry.  I sat outside with a bowl of carrot and coriander and chatted with my friends for a while.  You have no idea what  rare luxury this was for me – I had no children in tow and was able to laze around in the sun worrying only about myself.  Then when aforementioned friends started demanding attention I was able to just slip away to sell raffle tickets instead of having to get into a long and complicated argument over the wrongfullness of removing all of the roughcasting from the hall.

The first author to take to the low platform (we thought using the stage was too formal) was Margaret Elphinstone.  She’s a historical novelist and gave a great talk describing how she carries out her research and writes her books.  It made me feel really inspired and that the trip I forced Allan to take to Jerusalem three years ago when I was writing a bonkbuster about Pontius Pilate was totally justified.

After Margaret came Poet Kenneth Steven then – the headline act – Alexander McCall Smith.  He was really very funny.  As my Dad says he could easily have had a career as a stand up comedian.  I really enjoyed his talk and will definitely be reading his Courdoroy mansions series now.

I must confess that Saturday evening was a little disappointing.  Beth had kindly offered to babysit so that Allan and I could attend the whisky tasting with singer/songwriter Robin Laing.  Two problems arose from this – 1. I don’t like whisky 2. it became apparent that there was nobody there to wash the glasses.  Three hours later Allan, myself and my mum were standing in the kitchen only seconds away from smashing one of the glasses and using them to slit our own wrists. Two hours of solid washing up does become rather tedious.  Fortunately during my search for tea towels I discovered Gavin’s stash of chocolate for selling to those not satisfied by soup and sandwiches.  Gorged on Yorkies and revived, we threw ourselves back into the task with vigour.

On sunday morning I threw off my washing up hangover and headed round to watch Sophie Cooke give a reading from her novels and poems, very enjoyable.  Then James Robertson gave a hugely funny reading of Winnie the Pooh in Scots.  It was very amusing and later I accosted him and suggested that he ought to produce an audio cassette (it turns out I was not the first person to suggest this – he was very patient with me though).  Sadly the subsequent Q&A session all got a bit political.  The woman sitting next to Beth seemed to think she was on some sort literary question time – I was sorely tempted to reach for my whisky tasting glass razor and take her life instead of my own……..Three hours later she had finally been dragged from the hall and it was time for me to give my introduction of Liz Lochead.  Sadly I forgot all my carefully done research but fortunately I managed to remember her name and she made it onto the stage.  Her poetry reading was fantastic and so inspired was I that I found myself composing a poem about the tent this morning.

The festival was rounded off by a debate featuring all of the authors.  Sadly the take home message from this was that it’s going to become increasingly difficult for new writers to break into the market.  Rather disheartening for me then since I have a secret (or not so secret) desire to be a writer.

Then they all headed off to the pier and I headed home to my neglected husband and children and a rather delicious plate of meatballs.  This morning I woke up with a huge sense of relief (mingled with fear that the tent was actually going to blow away).  I’ve really been struggling in my capacity as head of social media.  I’m just not that good at working Twitter and what with my two children, dog, hens, lambs, online teaching students (who are a bit like pets in a way) and mother in law visiting I haven’t had much time to get my head around it.  Hopefully by next years festival I will be better at it – that’s if I’m not voted off of the committee at the debriefing meeting on Wednesday.

If I’m allowed to stay on the committee I have lots of ideas for next year.  I would love to get Julia Donaldson to come across.  If any other famous authors are reading this and fancy a trip to Colonsay please let me know!  For now though I’m looking forward to getting back to normality.  Or at least my version of normality where you sleep in a tent and get up at four am to feed the lamb living in a dog kennel at the bottom of your garden (next to The Weaves in fact!).

Five signs your sheep is lambing

The flock at dusk

 

  1. She’s on her own
  2. She can’t settle
  3. She’s pawing the ground and maybe walking in circles
  4. Tilting head backwards
  5. Straining and grunting with bits of lamb sticking out of her rear (no shit Sherlock!)

Consider this – you never see a dead sheep right out in the middle of a field.  Oh no they always like to go off into corners to die give birth.  They do this on purpose just to irritate the kindly humans who, with their best interests at heart, are traipsing around the field checking up on them at all hours of the day and night.

I had Liz Lochead in the front of my car this evening.  Actually that’s not strictly true.  I had Liz Lochead in the front of the-mother-in-laws car.  Our own car smells too strongly of petrol and dog for me to invite Scotland’s premier poet into its putrid interior.  The authors arrived en-masse today and my Dad and I had the pleasure of meeting Liz (first name terms already), Sophie Cooke and Kenneth Steven.  All of whom seemed rather lovely.  They also seemed gratifyingly impressed by Colonsay’s scenary.  This island had pulled out all the stops.  The sun was shining and the sea was sparkling.  As poor Liz struggled out of the car where I had parked it jauntily on top of a small hillock she turned to look at the view out over the pier and even I, jaded as I am, had to admit it was rather spectacular.  After a few minutes of conversation in which I developed dreadful verbal diarrhoea and may have appeared like a cross between a star struck school girl and a tour guide on speed I ditched the celebs and headed back around the island.  (I’m missing out the part where I almost drove the-mother-in-law’s Micra into a Landrover!).

I pulled up about half a mile from our house.  I removed my Uggs and replaced them with wellies, zipped up my Barbour (real croftesses can’t afford Barbour but I had one left over from my previous life).  Stowed my iphone safely in my pocket (even Croftesses need a smartphone) and headed off around the sheep.

Going around the sheep is a tricky business.  It’s not like going for a walk.  You have to pay attention.  You can’t just wander around blogging in your head and thinking about how beautiful the scenery is.  You must look out for five signs above.  As I wandered the hillside (limping in a slightly pregnant fashion, I have a strange (hopefully not pregnancy related back injury)), inhaling the crisp sea air and admiring what will soon be our amazing view, and writing this blog in my head I  heard bleating coming from the other side of the hill.  I sneaked up to the top and looked down onto Sally lamb’s mother and brothers.  They were calling to her wanting her to stop and feed them.  She obliged and they tucked themselves underneath, one on each side and started feeding vigorously tails wagging furiously.  I raised my iphone to take a picture (camera still defunct!) and the battery ran out!

“Oh well” I thought to myself, “never mind the flat battery, there’s not much going on anyway.” As I crested the last rise and was about to begin my (limpy) journey home I spied a sheep with some rather unpleasant substance dripping from her rear.  My first thought was dread.  Here I was out in the middle of nowhere a potential lambing emergency afoot with no phone signal to call for help, I didn’t even have any 3G for looking up lambing guidelines on the internet.  I took a different route around the hillock and came upon her from another angle.  A tiny lamb, brand new and dripping wet was just staggering to its feet and searching  (rather haplessly I might add) for its mothers udder.  I have seen hundreds of lambs being born.  I’ve watched my parents up to their elbows in farmyard animals and have seen the highs and lows of lambing.  None of this stopped me from misting up a little over this baby though.  I didn’t go any closer.  I didn’t want to interrupt  its first feed.  So the pleasant job of catching it, spraypainting it, putting a ring on its tail and dealing with its testicles (if it has any) can all be left for Allan tomorrow.  He’s the real crofter afterall.

I met Allan at the gate – he’d been doing some sort of weird GPS stuff.  It was only after I had given him a long and detailed description of our new lamb that he pointed out that this was the first thing I had thought to mention – not the fact that I had been chatting with a famous author only an hour before.  Maybe I am a real crofter too.

Sally lamb and Helen. She is already bigger than this though. I will beg, steal or borrow a camera for more pictures tomorrow.

Croftesses read books too you know

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Quick run away or he'll try and lamb you......

I’ll let you into a secret.  Before I became a croftess and started spending all of my days mucking around in the dirt with my hand up sheep’s bottoms I used to spend most of my time semi-reclined reading books.  Yes I am partial to a Mills and Boon but from time to time I like to dip my toe into something a little more highbrow.

Colonsay already has a very successful music festival run by my Dad and his chum Keith.  I love the music festival but sadly it came along at a rather difficult period in my life.  For the last few years I have either been heavily pregnant, the sleep deprived mother of a monster baby or 5 days post partum at the festival.  I must say I was proud of myself last year.  After discharging myself from the midwives and fleeing Edinburgh I took Sally to her first music festival at the tender age of six days.  She slept happily through a number of artists but found Lau rather noisy.  Helen had to be removed from the hall by the mother in law after trying to take to the stage during The Poozies.

Although I’ve done my best i’ve secretly always felt a little bit left out of the music festival.  I don’t play any instruments particularly well and I’ve never had the time (or, lets be honest, the inclination) to put together a decent performance for any of the sessions.  If I’m being really honest – and I seem to be having some sort of purge here – I’ve always been a bit jealous of my little sister who is a fantastic musician and has always really shone at the these events.  Anyway before you pull up a chair at my pity party lets move on……

I’ve always been good at reading though.  I used to pride myself on never leaving a book unfinished until I realised I was wasting my life with some really dire reads.  When I heard from my Dad in his capacity as LDO (that’s local development officer to you uninitiated) that plans for a book festival were afoot I felt really excited.  Partly at the chance to hear some famous authors speaking but also at the opportunity to actually organise something on Colonsay and, for the first time since I was little, feel like I was really part of the island.

I attended my first meeting 37 weeks pregnat – felt very enthusiastic and then dropped off the radar for several months.  By the time I returned to the civilized world of people who can talk about things other than nappies and don’t have sick in their hair the lineup was finalised and it was clear this event was really going to happen.  We even have some top notch authors booked including Alexander MCCall Smith and Liz Lochead.

I’ve found the whole process rather difficult though.  I’m not really a team player so having to take into account the opinions of others has been difficult at times.  Also by merit of being the youngest committee member by some 30 years I was entrusted with online promotion.  It became apparent fairly quickly that whilst I might be able to organise a birthday party using Facebook that is pretty much where my talents both begin and end…….I have a lot to learn.

In spite of my efforts the festival has forged forwards.  Sophie Cooke, Kenneth Steven, James Robertson and Margaret Elphinstone have been added to the lineup.  Members of the public have somehow managed to purchase tickets and the festival gets underway on Saturday.  The mother in law is coming to help tomorrow and my first showbiz task is to meet Liz Lochead off the boat.  I must admit that my excitement is being somewhat overshadowed by wondering if Sally will agree to take a bottle and if I will manage to express enough milk to make one for her ( if not Helen has some delicious tropical fruit flavour yogurt drinks).  I also have a secret fear that despite frantic revision reading sessions I may not be intellectual enough to attend such an event.  Perhaps there will be an IQ test before we are allowed into the hall, if so I may have to sit outside being bitten by midges whilst the intelligenti of Colonsay hobnob indoors.

I’ve just been given an idiots guide to Twitter by one of my fellow organisers media savvy daughter and I’m going to do my best to write a sort of festival mini-blog over the next few days.  If you want to take a look then this link may take you to the Colonsay book Festival Twitter account.  On the other hand it may not, if you have accidentally found your way to a website selling rain covers for off road buggies I sincerely apologise.

In other crofting news Allan lambed two sheep today.  He is so unbearably proud of himself I am beginning to wonder if he may actually have fathered the lambs too.

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