It was a long but good day on Saturday – I was up at 5.00 to catch the Pentalina from St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay then drove down to Helmsdale for the book festival. It was a simply stunning morning, calm and rare.
Scotland’s Indie Book Festival celebrated local authors of all ages and at all stages of their careers. It was a great opportunity to meet readers and hear other writers talk about their experiences.
Writers are a bit like polar bears, solitary. It is by necessity a quiet and personal task to sit and write from the imagination, but the input of others and discussion is vital to continued creativity.
It was brilliant to hear Ceitidh Hutton – otherwise known as C.C.Hutton speak about her beginnings as a writer providing books for children in Gaelic. This has grown into writing in Gaelic, Scots and English for both adults and children. She shared pages from her wonderful series about the fictitious village of Blàs in the highlands and spoke about how important personal attention had been in overcoming her dyslexia. Also inspiring was hearing from the determined and self-taught quiet horror writer Paula Readman who had come all the way from Essex to attend the festival. The ups and downs of writing, from publishing houses going out of business, to the effect of COVID were entertainingly discussed by Gordon J Brown, as well as the perils of having a very well known name at book signings.
I spoke about my own ups and downs writing Across The Silent Sea and the blind alleys and dead ends of searching for a publisher. I am delighted to be with Sparsile Books, but I think the book festival has left me more aware than ever that publication and success are fragile things. One thing can be relied upon though, if you don’t write there will not be any publications either to fail or succeed. So I left the festival with the resolution to write, write, write. It really is the best advice anyone can give.
The light was fading as I returned north, greys and blues taking over from the shades of peach and pink. Fuelled by strong coffee, wicked chocolate cake and my favourite CD I made it back (just) in time for the last sailing to Orkney.
Thank you to Pentland Ferries for your patience. That last stretch between Wick and Gills Bay always takes longer than I expect…