A New Look for November

Just back from a flying visit to our beloved Isle of Gigha. I'd been asked to do a book event about The Jewel for the Tarbert (Loch Fyne) Book Festival which meant that we were so close that it seemed a pity not to carry on as far as our favourite island. The ferry at Tayinloan is only eighteen miles along the road. The festival, incidentally, was a real pleasure - a very positive audience, asking lots of interesting questions. I hope they invite me back some time!

The long drive from Ayrshire to the Kintyre peninsula is spectacularly beautiful at this time of year, so vivid, so dazzling, that it seems impossible to choose any single photograph. We generally take the car ferry from Gourock to Dunoon, and then drive along the side of Loch Eck, heading for Loch Fyne and Inveraray. This is a route pretty much lined with trees: birches and all kinds of conifers, so you can imagine the sheer beauty of the autumnal colours.

Along the way, we generally stop off at The Tree Shop, next to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. There's an excellent cafe (great cakes!) and a garden centre specialising in conifers and other trees, so it's well worth a visit. Frankly, whenever I browse there, I imagine myself moving to Argyll and planting a hillside garden. Well, I can dream, can't I?

You'll have noticed that I've been playing about with the look of this blog. Partly it's to cheer myself - and you - up because November tends to be my least favourite month, although the sun is shining brilliantly, as I type this. But here in Scotland it does 'get late early' as a friend used to say - soon darkness will be falling by four o'clock in the afternoon. We have to pay for all those long light summer nights.

Partly, though, it's because I plan to do more, shorter posts. I want to keep readers and friends up to date with all my new projects. And because I'm tired of seeing so much writing advice online that seems to me to be both discouraging and not particularly helpful I'll be including an occasional short post with a few professional hints and tips. I've been writing full time for the past 40+ years, more or less successfully, although I've switched from poetry to fiction and non fiction, to plays and then back again to fiction during that time. The truth is that you're always learning. But I quite often see dogmatic writing advice that I find debatable, and even dangerous for anyone starting out. The one absolute rule is that there are no absolute rules.

More as it happens.