Sunday 22 February 2015

Lily of St. Leonards, or, The complete works of Effie Deans

Someone suggested recently that it might be an idea if I gathered together all of my articles and published them in book form. I wondered at the time whether there was much point given that they are all freely available online. But on reflection I realised that a website is not easy to navigate when it becomes as large as mine. Anyway, I was intrigued by just how many pages I had written and just how many words. So I set about gathering everything together. What I present here is very lightly edited. When I began writing, I had a tiny readership and so I dashed off an article and simply published it without further thought. I spell poorly and remain largely indifferent to punctuation. Writing is simply a way of coming up with new ideas. As long as the idea is expressed clearly, then I could care less if a comma is missing or if it should rather be a semi colon.

This book has over hundred articles, is over 500 pages long and contains over 130,000 words. That’s a lot. It’s considerably longer than my dissertation. But then my blog has been read by considerably more people than all my academic work combined. What started out as a tiny band of readers who I met on twitter has built until now I have more readers than I ever expected.

Writing for me has always been first and foremost about being read. I like to share ideas. But it’s not only about that. It’s about developing a skill which every writer hopes will turn into something more. It’s about recognition and being valued. Some people train to be doctors, others lawyers. All of us when we work, expect some reward. My skill is writing. It’s really the only skill I have and I hope to develop it. It was for this reason that in the middle of the independence campaign I took a long break from blogging. I did some academic work and I worked on some fiction. When I stopped blogging, I did not know if I would start up again. I had lost the motivation to continue and had run out of ideas. I began also to think that the subject was not worth studying. Why devote so much time to such a paltry topic as Scottish nationalism?

Now I publish my complete works. But who is to say if they really are complete. There may be a second edition some time from now with many more articles. In the end, it is up to you. No publisher would publish a second edition if the first did not do well.

What I do is not free. It costs me a huge amount of time and effort. I wake up early in the morning on a Saturday and write. Sometimes I have no thought as to what new idea I can come up with that week, and then each week I wait to see how the idea will be understood. I’m not sure there is any more to write about this topic. This collection of articles contains every argument I can think of which might refute Scottish nationalism. Yet I also know that the fight must continue, for they are far from beaten.

I may well be back next week or the week after or in a few months. I’m drawn to the blog like a moth to a flame and write even when I ought not and when really I’m too tired and just need a break. I would be content with very little. If one out of every one hundred of my readers thought it was worth the price of a cup of coffee to see what one of my books was like, I would be absolutely delighted. People whose judgement I respect assure me that my work is worth reading. I would not make it available if it were not. If a newspaper offered to republish one of my articles I would be very proud and very grateful. I hope it is not too much to ask that there should be a little quid pro quo.

There’s a song I like very much about exile and parting

 ………………….my sad tears are falling,
To think that from Erin and thee I must part,
It may be for years, and it may be forever?
Then why art thou silent, thou voice of my heart?
It may be for years, and it may be forever;
Then why art thou silent, Kathleen, Mavourneen?

I am a long way from home and I don’t know when I’ll be coming back again. Scotland seems very far away, because it is far away. We have our own problems here in Russia and my energies must mainly be devoted to doing what I can here.

The foundation of everything I do is Christian existentialism and the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. He wrote a book called Either/Or.  In the end, everything comes down to a choice. And for that reason I’ve always been quite strict.  Either this book is the end, or it continues.  It’s a choice, but it’s not only my choice.

So it may be next week, or it may be forever. 

If you like my writing, you can find my books Scarlet on the Horizon (book, Kindle), An Indyref Romance (book, Kindle) and Complete Works (book, Kindle) on Amazon. I appreciate your support.