Friday, 20 August 2010


Today, my blog post is a mix of snippets.

First, some good news - my Open University students' results came through. I can imagine the bolt that hits them as they open the email. For me, the email informs me the results for the group are up on my OU homepage. I, no doubt like them, click on the link without hesitation. Then my eyes run down the list, checking one student's results after the other, holding my breath and sometimes gasping as the numbers reveal the final results. Funny how seeing each name brings back a visualisation of each student and what they've shared with me of their aspirations and their day to day life. I'm very pleased that they achieved their goals. There may be slight disappointment or even heartache for one or two but I'm confident all of us have taken away something good from the shared experience of A215 Creative Writing.

Next snippet is that my participation in the Scottish Writers' Centre event at Word Power Books in Edinburgh last week went very well. It's a lovely venue, intellectual yet intimate. Donal McLaughlin, as ever, was an expert host, generous in his praise and quietly assured in his manner. I was very pleased to see my daughter Alison and her friend Fliss in the audience, smiling with real delight. I kicked off the reading with two extracts from my draft novel A Spell in the South (of France), then Gerrie Fellows treated us to some of her poems spanning her early publishing in New Zealand, all the way up to poems she's working on now. Final reading spot was for Maggie Graham, who read from her novel 'Sitting among the eskimos' and from some newer material she's been working on. Her work was entertaining, uplifting and gave us something to mull over and wonder at, all in one go.

Less good this week was the demise of my wee cat, Willow, who had been full of health in May this year but slowly dwindled. She dropped from 4kg to 2.7kg then in her last few days she was nothing but fur and bones, wee soul. I can't believe how much I miss her. There are so many valid reasons for sorrow in the world yet I'm sobbing for my cat. Ah, Willow. She was thirteen and a half years old. I would tell you about the tarot readings I've done for her but you'd think I was a fool.


Here's something good to look forward to -

On Wednesday 25 August, my good friend Donal McLaughlin is reading at the Edinburgh Book Festival from 4.30 - 5.30. More info at 

Donal McLaughlin. Photo c. Marc Gaber, Riga
Sadly, I can't go. But the reason's good: my daughter Ruth is coming home from Mexico City after five years, with her partner and their baby. They're going to be staying with us (Keith and I - the family home) until they find a place of their own. Reasons to be cheerful!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Reading at the Edinburgh Festival

I've been involved with the Scottish Writers' Centre for about six months, now. We've recently been drawing up plans for our next season of events for after the summer, to be held at the CCA in Glasgow. More on that very soon.

On 18 August, the SWC presents a reading by 'some of its own' at WordPower Books in Edinburgh as part of the Book Festival Fringe. I'm very pleased to be invited to share the platform with two writers who've contributed substantially to the creation and success of the Scottish Writers' Centre - Gerrie Fellows (Window for a Small Blue Child) and Maggie Graham (Sitting Among the Eskimos). SWC stalwart, Donal McLaughlin, will do the introductions so I know this'll be a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and I hope to see some Edinburgh friends at the event, for an hour of poetry & fiction. There's more information on the Scottish Writers' Centre blog.

WordPower Books is at 43-45 West Nicholson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DB. Our reading will be held from 3 - 4pm and admission is completely free. Incidentally, the Word Power website gives full details of the Edinburgh Book Fringe programme: