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A Gaelic Sell Out


My photographs of the stall at the Book Fair have turned out too small. I’m sure there must be a technical fix somewhere, but right now that is beyond my skills. Hence the collage of photographs above. You will notice Grumpa the puppet wasn’t rushed off his feet. Instead, he sat in the pop-up shop while the rest of us ran around doing workshops, launching books, and manning stalls.

Nigg Book Fair had more writers attending than in previous years. Partly because many have felt isolated this past while. As I have mentioned before the act of writing can be a solitary affair whereas, the publishing of a book requires a team effort.

It was lovely wandering around the hall speaking briefly to fellow authors. What came up again and again was the need to see, talk and communicate with other writers. Where do we get our inspiration from if we are closeted in a room? It is from observing everyday life that many writers get that spark that leads them to their next creation.

I was once more reminded that within Ross, Cromarty and Sutherland there are a fairly large number of people putting pen to paper. Most readers have heard of the Highland Noir; murder, and mystery books that are written by several well-known writers.

This is not the only genre in the area though, for example, poetry and nonfiction books are well represented. Whether it is railways or a crofting life you can find a well-written example from someone in the district. Young children and young adult readers are also well catered for. Books from the Highlands about the Highlands and stories from far-flung countries can also be found. We are lucky that many are also in Gaelic as well as English.

I was fairly sure where my Gaelic market resided. But I also understand the principal that people need to see that modern Gaelic books exist. Even if no one attending events can read Gaelic, seeing that books can be bought in the language is important . This is especially so if parents are considering enrolling their children in Gaelic Medium Education.

So off I trotted with my English novels, Blàs of the Highlands and Blàs Roots in the Soil; along with of course some of the lovely chocolates from the book. And my Gaelic children’s books mainly for display purposes, or so I thought.

A few copies of each book were dutifully arranged. However, by the time I had remembered to take the obligatory picture of my stall, I have sold all the copies of one particular Gaelic book and some copies of some of the other Gaelic stories as well.

I’m not blowing my own trumpet here (actually it was the b flat cornet and e flat soprano I used to play, not the trumpet) what I was so happy about was that I sold a good few Gaelic books.

For me, it meant that more people were genuinely interested in Gaelic than I had anticipated. I normally know my market for Gaelic and how many people would buy a Gaelic book and it is not that many. Some were buying for fluent speakers, some were bought for learners and to improve their own Gaelic. Whatever the reason I was glad. It felt so positive to run out of the few copies I had taken.

I had to remind myself this wasn’t a Gaelic audience. I wasn’t at the Royal National Mod where I know the place is littered with Gaelic speakers. This was in a wee old hall in a tiny village in the middle of some stunning countryside.

I came home from Nigg jumping up and down with joy at the prospect that we have indeed turned a corner where Gaelic is concerned. There are more people out there speaking and learning than I thought, I no longer know most in the area who are Gaelic speakers.

Both the new St Duthac Book and Arts Festival and the Nigg Hall Book Fair have left me feeling more positive than I expected, especially about Gaelic. I never anticipated that.

As for writers themselves, we may end up with an informal gathering in the area every so often or perhaps a Highland Society of Authors group from all this activity. Whatever we end up with, I shall take away the friendly atmosphere of the meeting up of a ‘pen’ of authors, and an acknowledgment that there are more Gaelic speakers out there than I was aware of.


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