I didn’t set out to be a writer, nor to create my own web site where I could air my opinions. I just got carried away on a wave of enthusiasm and didn’t know when to stop.Please indulge me and assume that my only reason for doing this is that I thought that some people might find it, well, interesting.
This CD started my interest in Somerled and renewed an interest in my Scottish heritage. The rest of this page gives a bit of family and career background to this and other topics.For more about Somerled and how I came to be so keen to write about him (A Wolf in the Belly), click here or the Somerled button above.
I remember writing a piece when I was about nine years old. It described a walk in the countryside on a pleasantly warm but humid summer day. It rained, and afterwards everything smelled and felt, fresh and clean. A class mate described my efforts as “Cor, that’s beautiful” – my first literary plaudit!It did not lead on to a glittering literary career - I can’t explain why. However, I have been a writer for most of my working life, but on technical topics.
In the IT industry, I began with writing computer programs: first writing applications then, later, operating system programs. The main discipline here was just that: discipline! you have to work precisely, within well defined rules. Where creativity is useful, is in deciding on a strategy and communications between man (as in “mankind”) and machine.
When I moved on to training people to use computer systems, I had to design training programmes which included notes for trainers, notes for students, user guides, self teaching guides, etc. The need to grab and maintain the reader’s interest was a key element here. Mixed in with all the above, was the irresistible everyday-life urge to write to papers, magazines or anyone else who might listen to my latest gripe or enthusiasm.
A New Passion
When I became interested in the struggle that Somerled, a twelfth-century clan leader, had to re-establish his clan on their ancient land in south-west Scotland, I thought that I should be capable of writing a novel that did justice to him and his people. It didn’t take long before it dawned on me that such a project imposes different disciplines and requires additional and different skills from my previous work. What started out as a bit of self-indulgence had become a passion, and I wanted to get it right.One thing that I did do right was to join a writing circle. The members of the Thames Valley Writing Circle have been a great help in identifying what I needed to know and in acquiring those skills that I lacked. As well as helping me with the novel, the writing circle encouraged me to broaden the scope of what I write by tackling short stories and poetry. One of my minor successes has been Let’s Talk, a short story about early humans. It gained second prize in a Circle competition.
I had a Scottish mother and an English father. My brother was born in Scotland and spent the first ten years of his life there (he was ten years older than me). He was emphatically a Scot and even had a sgian dubh (pronounced skee-an doo, roughly) tattooed on his leg. I was born, grew up and lived all my life in England (except for a 6 months spell in the USA) and therefore have always felt English.As a result, events involving people whose self-identity clashed with their circumstances, have often intrigued me. Hence my interest in Somerled (the hero in A Wolf in the Belly) my angst over Brexit and my sympathy for the SNP attitude towards the United Kingdom.
I’m not really into Facebook, Twitter and all that. I’ve been put off by all the people that have got themselves into trouble for mouthing off without thinking about it first. It’s all too easy to jump in with both feet nowadays, so, as I am prone to doing just that, I think it’s best to limit my opportunities.However, I do like to hear from others. If you have anything to say about anything on this site, do write. If I am not too inundated you may even get a reply! You can contact me at:firstname.lastname@example.org