Thursday, 6 May 2010

Now, where was I?

The honest answer to that is 'asleep on the sofa' for most of the day, although in the light of my recent working routine and the news that lack of sleep can kill you I think that definitely comes under the heading of Sensible Precautions rather than Outrageous Laziness. Am in a sort of post-book haze, which is a very nice place to be anyway, but which is further enhanced by slight champagne hangover from celebrating and a sort of cloud of soft-focus happiness brought on by a lovely weekend at my cousin's wedding.

Little did I suspect last October when my lovely cousin announced that she was marrying her gorgeous boyfriend on a beach on the West coast of Scotland (not just any beach, but more of that later...) in May that I'd still be writing The Book That Would Not Die. If I had I would have given some thought to my outfit well in advance instead of leaving it until the day before we left, when I'd been up for four nights in a row until 3am. This is not a good start to any shopping trip, much less one which involves searching for an outfit that combines wedding chic (silk, high heels) with Scottish beachwear practicality (goretex, polar fleece, wellies) In the end - having caught sight of my haggard reflection in the fitting room mirror in Jigsaw - I rushed to Boots to spend silly money on Chanel foundation before heading home to peer despondently into the depths of my wardrobe for something to go with my wellies and goretex.

Because of an unfortunate combination of school exams, Very Important Meetings at work and the grimness of an eight hour drive with children we'd decided a while ago that it was best to leave them and spouses at home, and for the brothers and I to do the trip Old Skool, squabbling on the back seat of my stepmother's car all the way up to Arisaig. This is where, every summer of my childhood, we met up with my cousins to go feral, sleep in a mildewed 1930s showman's caravan and wear the same clothes every day for two weeks. (Clothes which subsequently appeared on the next child down in the photographs the following year.) The beach my cousin walked along to marry her man was the one on which we used to dune surf, find exquisite shells brought in on the gulf stream and build sand boats, and even though it's been nearly 30 years since I was last there it's as beautiful as ever. And as empty. Apart from the farmer who used to drive his cows across the beach, I can't remember ever coming across another living soul for the entire time we were there, which is odd because I've since read that Ewan McGregor used to spend his summers there too. Humph. I never saw him. (Probably just as well, given the wearing-the-same-clothes-for-two-weeks thing.)

Anyway, after the past few frantic weeks it was pretty much the perfect place to be (total perfection would have been achieved with the addition of a couple of degrees on the temperature, and maybe Ewan McGregor striding over the dunes...) My cousin made a ravishing bride, wrapped in plaid with sprigs of gorse in her hair, and there was something timeless and deeply moving about the ceremony on the shore - Walter Scott meets Richard Curtis. Luckily there was a brisk wind, which meant that I could pretend that the tears streaming down my cheeks (the Chanel spray-paint durable foundation was a wise investment after all) were a result of extreme weather rather than extreme soppiness. Expect a wedding on a beach to appear in a book sometime soon.

I'd taken a print out of the book with me to read through while I was away, but needless to say it stayed in its envelope. However, I did do some significant Thinking about it, and finished it properly when I got back, amid much weeping and loud music. I've been writing this one for so long that the playlist has grown and grown, but the song I was playing most at the end was this one. Sniff.

I'm now looking forward to getting to know my children well enough to pick them out in a crowd again, and making inroads into the ironing pile while thinking about the next book. It's been in my head for most of the time I've been working on this one, and it's quite a departure from anything I've done before. Can't wait to get started. I'm sure it'll flow from my fingers and be finished in a month



Rachel said...

Dear India,

What a gorgeous place for a wedding, it sounded amazing.Can't wait for you to write one of your own as well!

I rather like the sound of the mildewed 1930's caravan too, could it be slipped in somewhere do you think?

A month you say? You can do anything after the last one, my lovely!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Lots of love,


Kate Hewitt said...

Now you have me intrigued, India. What do you mean, a departure from what you normally do?! Those photos are lovely--I spent a couple of summer holidays in the Highlands of Scoltnad and it was absolutely gorgeous. No showman's caravans though--that sounds like something right out of the pages of an Enid Blyton book! The Castle of Adventure, I think...

Enjoy that lovely post-book glow when you can just think about the next book and not feel like you have to really *do* anything about it yet... aah!

India said...

Rach, I sure the decaying caravan has a place in a book - it was obviously fabulously glamorous in its day, with etched mirrors and ornate wall wall lights with (moth eaten) tasseled silk shades - however, I'm not convinced the smell of damp or the mould on the walls is entirely Presents, somehow!

Kate - still what I/we do, but with a slightly new twist. I'm loving all the developments in the line at the moment - like Sandra's Blackwolf book (must read that one while I have some downtime) and the Greek Myth series. All I can think of doing in my post-book glow is sleep though. Maybe my brain is working very hard creating characters etc while I'm out like a light on the sofa??

Trenda said...

Hello, India,

So glad to see you back at your blog! Happy to hear your book is complete and that you've had a proper rest!

All the best,


Brigitte said...

Hi India,
I'm glad that you were able to spend some lovely and lively time at a family wedding. You could say that the wedding was a fitting conclusion to your book....

But what this reader wants to desperately know is....what did the author wear in the end - was it silk and high heels or wellies and polar fleece????
Photos, please.

Enjoy your down time - it cleanses the brain and prepares it for new adventures.

India said...

Hello Trenda and Brigitte!! Have had a manic week catching up on all the things that got put off during the Big Push (who would have thought that ALL the children would have grown in the last month and need new school uniform?)so have been away from the computer. Lovely to hear from you both!

Brigitte, I wore a cherry-red linen dress I'd had in my wardrobe for a couple of years but never actually worn before, layered up with thermal camisoles underneath and pashminas on the top. I also borrowed my lovely friend Alyson's bright green velvet coat, which was an absolute Godsend - I would definitely have suffered hypothermia without it. And wellies, of course. (You can take the girl out of the highlands, but you can't quite take the highlands out of the girl.) I like to think my look was farmer's wife crossed with eccentric elderly spinster.

I did actually buy some fab purple velvet shoes with crazy high heels for the evening from Tescos in Carlisle on the way up to the wedding - they looked great but were too high to ceilidh in! Should have stuck to the wellies...

Sharon said...

Why had you never worn the cherry-red linen dress before?