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Creative non happenings on the north Coast 500

Two things happened this week that ended up entwined just by chance. The first took the form of a phone call from BBC Alba asking for a few words about living in a small place under the present conditions. My first thought was as usual; it is for Gaelic therefore any help I can give I must. It was quickly followed by the second, IT IS IN GÀIDHLIG, help! The third thought was a wee bit more helpful. I know a person who can; someone who is fluent that I can lean on, who out of the goodness of their heart and a pinch of moral blackmail would help me out. Que the offspring. One phone call later and all is set up. Well providing the baby plays ball or in this case stays asleep.

The second event I actually knew about but had to wait until we in the Society of Authors in Scotland (SOAis) were allowed to say anything. It was of course the announcement of help for Scottish writers including stand up comedians and others from Creative Scotland, working in partnership with The Society of Authors. Hence the choice of picture this week.

So you are asking right now what is the connection? Well it wasn’t until the interviewer from BBC Alba asked what it had been like these past few months that I realised how connected these events were. I started to answer without first planning what I might say. What was the first thing I said? To be honest it even took me by surprise, “Well I am a writer and most of my work completely dried up with the close down.” I could see the puzzled look on the interviewers face. I mean what an extraordinary thing to say in itself. First admitting I am writer (even though my first book was published in 2009 by Leabhraichean Beaga), you would be forgiven for thinking being a writer, a lock down won’t have any affect. All that time you can spend scribbling away. Laying down work for the future. But unless you are one of the few best sellers, the chances of you making enough money from book sales to live off is remote. Many authors actually make a living more from workshops and events. And of course all these totally stopped.

As for being a best seller, well, the Gàidhlig children’s market is not exactly huge. There are quite frankly not enough Gàidhlig speaking children in each age range to reap thousands of pounds to live off. Even if every child bought a book that would not generate enough money to keep bread or anything else on the table. So workshops and events are a must. A way to help eke out and earn some kind of wage from writing. I am not well known enough as yet for writing in English or even if it comes to that writing for adults.

Actually if I am honest, I really miss engaging with children and adults. The feedback and laughter helps nourish my soul. Who would have thought I could miss virtual strangers. Readers I only meet once and the new parents and young babies that come along and enjoy sharing stories, puppets and action songs with me. I do miss them.

If we were suddenly to find a hidden pocket of thousands of Gaelic speaking children, in some remote, as yet uncharted land and I became a bestselling writer, I would still want to partake in workshops and events with them. I didn’t realise what a social animal I really was. Well as least with my young audience.

I have a couple of virtual workshops this coming week. Embracing new technology and methods of delivery, I am even surprising myself. At least I will be back in the classroom in one form. If I fail miserably there could be no blog next week. I could be under my pillow hiding my embarrassment. Hopefully though, you will find me here jumping up and down with joy at once more being able to engage with my young readers.

And please if you know of any writers who may need help to get by in these difficult times pass on this link below and hopefully they can get some help to pull them through.

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