I’m thinking of writing a book. Nothing radical or anything, nothing much life-affirming either, what I am thinking about doing is a book featuring 12 day trips, possibly going from one side of Scotland to another arranged by month. I thought about crossing Scotland from Dunbar to Glasgow but it could take considerable liberties with geography and logistics since I quite like Fife and it definitely isn’t on the way from East Lothian to anywhere except Fife itself, except perhaps by boat. There’s also the issue that I also quite like England, despite current political circumstances, and I have had many fine day trips south of the border. In short, if I end up doing this, I will need to tie some things down in order to produce anything coherent and consistent.
All I know so far is I would begin as a day trip would. I don’t drive so nearly all day trips begin either at Cardonald train station or at the bus stop. Once day trips tended to begin from Dunbar train station, waiting for a red light to turn green and an already delayed intercity train to stop and let me on. Many day trips begin early in the day. The earliest so far was about 5am at Prestwick Airport when I went to Dublin just after New Year a couple of years ago. I have had a few that have begun at an agriculturally early hour lately, including the trip to London a couple of months ago when I left the house in the rain at 5.50am and alighted at Euston a few hours later in Mediterranean heat. Some, though, begin well after the sun has come up, usually after a lie-in, sometimes even after hours of deliberation about where I am heading.
What I am thinking about writing is a travel guide but based on personal experiences. It won’t be overly subjective and it will most likely be written just as this blog is, with a first-person writing style because that seems to work best for me. It won’t be a memoir but it will be informed by the life I have lived and continue to live. Also, the places I will choose – I already have a list – will be places that I love but may not necessarily be on the tourist trail. Current contenders in that vein include Dysart, Cathkin Park, the Hermitage of Braid and Prestongrange. Others that are more obvious include Dunbar itself, Tantallon Castle, Linlithgow, Dunfermline and Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
At the moment it is just an idea. I had it a couple of days ago. It stems from the side of me that just wants to write all the time but it will probably be a backburner project that I will get to when I have a few moments to work up a chapter for each month. So, starting in January, I imagine I will be visiting a place then working up a piece about it, just as I do for this blog a lot of the time but in a longer form. In January, for example, that place might be walking along the Water of Leith walkway in Edinburgh from the Dean Village to Balerno via Murrayfield, Slateford, Colinton Dell, Currie and Juniper Green, emulating a walk I took on that route about five years ago just after snow had fallen. Near Currie, none of it had been touched and it was magical. It was also the day when just after I had walked seven miles I was asked if I was lost when I happened to glance at a signpost. It’s an excellent, bracing sort of walk through the west of Edinburgh, with plenty of beauty and admittedly a couple of less bonny bits as you go. Colinton Dell is glorious, walking by Saughton Prison undoubtedly less so.
In the last year, writing has become an incredibly important part of my life, even more than it was before. It has helped me engage with a wider group of people and with a wider range of thoughts, feelings and issues. Lately I have been wondering about how to build on that. I thought about applying to a programme dedicated to literary criticism but I ended up too busy and forgetting to apply. This at least is on my own terms and any deadlines are my own rather than imposed by someone else. Whether in January I will be sauntering forth with a notebook in hand, who knows? I don’t make New Year’s resolutions so it’s more an idea rather than an aspiration. Knowing my luck, it will probably snow and the country will be closed down for a fortnight. We’ll see how it goes.