Apologies to anyone following this blog - and I know there are some! - for the long silence. I'm currently working at the University of the West of Scotland on a Royal Literary Fund fellowship, and dissertation deadlines are looming - which means that I have been inundated with students seeking appointments for a bit of help and advice. The really heartening thing has been what a lovely bunch of young people they are. I've seen lots of final year education students over the past few weeks and - quite honestly - I would be absolutely delighted if any of them were teaching a child (or should that now be grandchild?) of mine. They are conscientious, polite, committed, imaginative, idealistic - fabulous young people, and a credit to the Scottish education system which has produced them - or perhaps simply a credit to themselves and their parents as well. I've kept up to my own writing - but blogging has rather fallen by the wayside.
Next week, I'm away to Glasgow, to record a short story called The Sleigh for a 'Homecoming' CD for Scottish PEN.
Meanwhile, out of the blue, a theatre company has contacted me - and wants to stage a production of my play The Locker Room. I sent this out a couple of years ago, but had more or less given up on it. When I would occasionally go back to it and reread it, I thought it was a good play. But sometimes you write something which people either love or hate, with nothing in between and this was one such piece of work. The responses to it were completely polarised. I submitted it to the Traverse a long time ago, but the artistic director hated it. He very kindly told me that their reader - on the other hand - loved it, raved about it. I submitted it to the Playwright's Workshop in Glasgow and got an independent reading of such monumental negativity that even I (insecure as I am) could see that another agenda was at work. They apologised and submitted it to another reader - who thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! So it goes. I suspect it has something to do with the subject matter, which is about abuse in sports coaching. Not a bundle of laughs. And something to do with the way it is written which is - I reckon - quite experimental. Written as I would write a poem. I find myself doing a lot of that these days. The Sleigh too is written very much as I would write a poem, and with just as much care, just as much polish and attention to detail.
So - the Locker Room will be produced in Glasgow later on this year. The Sleigh will be available on a CD. And meanwhile - I'm still looking for a publisher for The Physic Garden! Which is Scottish, historical, unashamedly literary - but also, I hope, a damn good story.