14 September 2003
For those of you who've noticed, for those of you who've complained, I have an excuse for recent laxity in logging: et in Orcadia ego. Or in other words, I've been away. Jean & Roger have been long threatening to bear me off to Orkney, and this time I actually went. Low islands, high islands, blue skies and bluer seas; it's been kind of magical. And strange to be so emphatically on holiday, not even trying to think about working (well, until the last few days, when I got all overtook by the start of a children's fantasy, something I haven't been trying to think about for the last twenty years or so - a less atheistic man might murmur more about Orcadian magic here, but I shan't).
We stayed a week in Stromness, which is Cat Central, and so a happy town for me. And we visited my sister on Stronsay, one of the outer islands, where she keeps the village shop; and we spent a weekend on Hoy, which is the wild one, and walked from Rackwick Bay (where Peter Maxwell Davies claims he moved for the sake of the silence, which is absurd, because what with the surf and the seabirds and the wind it's one of the noisiest places I've ever been) up to the Old Man, a famous rock pillar off the cliffs there, where we sat and picnicked and thought about Manda Scott, who would have been climbing it before we could say Boudica and probably at the top before we could cry Manda, come back, we need another two volumes yet...!
And then to St Margaret's Hope, this wee village on South Ronaldsay which boasts the best restaurant I've ever eaten in. I've been to a few of the smart ones in London and elsewhere, courtesy of publishers and such, but the Creel is simply better. With the emphasis on both those words.
And so home, to a shouting cat and the news that Pete C doesn't want to publish Being Small, he didn't like it at all. Which is depressing, but not yet a disaster; I find that his opinion doesn't change mine. Some people call that arrogance, or ego; I think it's more to do with art. I may have no confidence in a book's welcome from the world, and yet be completely confident that I have done the best I could hope for by the book and its story, and believe that it was worth the doing even if the book never finds a home at all. The writer's first duty is to the work; I really do believe that.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.