Displacement Activity.

I have taken this to new heights (or should that be depths) within the past few weeks. Here I am, with a full length book to finish. By the end of May. Actually, preferably, say the publishers who commissioned this a while ago, by the end of April. Please?
It's non-fiction. It will be called "God's Islanders"and it will be a history of the people of the Island of Gigha (just off the Kintyre Peninsula, on the west coast of Scotland, in case you don't know....) But not a big academic tome. Just an average sized, very personal and slightly poetic account of the history of this tiny (and most southerly) of the true Hebridean islands and the people who have lived there over the years. I want it to be accurate, but lyrical and evocative as well. The island has been an inspiration to me in fiction and plays, so I want something of that in the book. It can't be dry, it might sometimes be funny, but by the end of it, the reader has to know something of the island and its people. And I have been working on it, on and off, for a good while now. So not one of those quick inspirations then.
I am swamped with research and reference books. I have some thousands of words already written. Pages of notes and letters from people, and photocopies of interesting old documents. I even know what I want the cover to look like for God's sake. I have spent weeks and months of my life on this. But for ages I just haven't been able to get my head (and, face it, my body) round the idea of assembling it all into something readable.
I have ditched an old PC and acquired a new one. I have signed up to broadband. I have listed items on eBay. I have cleaned the kitchen, and changed the beds. I have watered the plants and written emails, and Googled for a million interesting items, all connected, of course, with my book. Or not, as the case may be. I have drunk tea, coffee, wine and (the last desperate recourse of the afflicted) whisky. Not much whisky, true, and it was Laphroaig, in the vain hope that the taste of the Hebrides would inspire me to get going. I have phoned friends. I have cleaned the cockatiels' cage. I have phoned my student son. I have chatted to my husband who is working on the floor of our new bathroom, and cursing quietly. I have made a fish pie. I have gone shopping. I have tidied my desk, and thrown away a heap of old papers and magazines. I have sharpened a pencil. I have figured out how to use the CD player my family bought me for Christmas, and played Bob Dylan endlessly.
But today, having exhausted every last possibility, I have sat down at my computer, and written 5000 words, the first chapter, pulling together some of that great multitude of notes and ideas as I went. And you know what? Suddenly, I thought, I can do this. Like riding a bike, or swimming in deep water. It's all there. Suddenly I know what I'm doing and how I should do it. Oddly enough, I don't think I could have done it till now. It's as though all this time, something was working away in my head, and now it's shuffled itself more or less into the right pattern, and...
Tomorrow, I will write the chapter about the Well of the Winds. And then I'll be absolutely certain that today wasn't just some kind of fluke....

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