Thursday, September 11, 2008

attention all shipping

The days are too full right now - every waking moment accounted for and spent either working, cooking or laying down the produce of the garden for consumption over the colder months. The freezer has bag upon bag of beans - broad and French, all blanched and tucked away for later. I've been oven-drying tomatoes to the point where my dreams are full of little red orbs, and now the apples have started falling off the trees and I'll have to start on them next. And then the pears will begin...and this weekend I ought to pick the blackcurrants and and and.

Work is pretty full-on too. I'm currently up to number 99 of a total of 143 of a set of b/w line illustrations for the second Witch Baby book. This entails getting up early and arriving, bleary-eyed at my drawing board at 7.30 a.m., whereupon, in between school runs and emails and phone calls, I've been cross-hatching away, I have no idea what I'm like when I'm drawing in such a concentrated fashion - a desperate illustrator, I think. A demented draftswoman. Whatever. It's a whole new way of working for me. In fact the entire, once-familiar landscape of publishing seems to have shape-shifted into an unrecognizable terra incognito.Due to publishing schedules, the book I'm working on has to be done at a break-neck speed, which forces me to think very, very hard, stare mightily at what I'm doing and stops me from my usual serendipitous methodology whereby I used to drift, and dream and plitter around in a box of paints, doing a convincing impersonation of a ditzy lady watercolourist.

Not any more. Off with the floaty chiffons and billowy silks and on with the tailored twill and tweed. If you follow my drift. In fact shortly, if this pace continues much longer, it'll be off with the twill and tweed and on with the leather and rubber. With studs. And chains. Let's not forget the chains, eh?

In the middle of all this time-constrained nonsense, something had to slip, and sadly, it was the gym. I am, officially, a slob. This state of affairs is, I have to say, a temporary blip in an otherwise spotless record of cardiovascular virtue, but right now, there are not enough hours in the day.There's the 143 b/w illustrations followed by a ten day book tour with my dragon book, and then , oh, puhleaze, then I will try and squeeze my 5k running and occasional visits to the gym back into my days. The think I was not prepared to let go was playing the fiddle. Even if I'm cross-eyed with tiredness, I try and fit in an hour a day. Some days, I even like how I sound.

Summer flew past. Then it rained, I think. I didn't get out as much as I would have liked. Didn't swim nearly as often in Loch Fyne. There were shoals of jellyfish making me very wary of the water. Besides, most of the time I was working my socks off. One weekend off all summer. One. The rest of them I was working one or both days. I think I can say, hand on heart that I've never worked as hard in my life as I have done this year. Part of this is simple timetabling - the books have to be done for tight deadlines. But, the other part of this punishing workload is a simple lack of money. Publishers advances are reflecting the somewhat depressed market, or at least that's what I'm being told as I'm paid what I used to earn back at the beginning of the Nineties. Urrrrghhhhh. And just to crank the stress-factor up a notch or two, my trusty Mac went down last week, and not in a Lewinsky fashion either. It died on me, a long, long way from home. Up on the Hebridean island of Lewis, in fact. It stayed dead all that long and hideous weekend during which I did my best to not think about all the 'stuff' I had stored on its silent hard drive. So, after trying to fix it myself, I called in help, and help duly took it away for intensive care and reported back that it was officially a deadmac.

So. Newmac had to be bought with the moolah earmarked for something trivial like eating or the mortgage or some such frippery, and then, oh joy, newmac had to be toilet-trained, socialized, educated and is only now standing on its own two feet for long enough to demand 'when's tea?' and 'have you washed my socks yet?'. Don't know about you, but I think I'm living in the epicentre of a Chinese curse. You know - the one about 'may you live in interesting times'. Hmm. Interesting times are here. I'm living them.


Mel said...

So I'm guessing you didn't ask the Starmores to borrow one of their computers, then.

Interesting times, indeed, but it is good to see you surfacing for a bit.

Debi Gliori said...

I am an ignoramus. Who are the Starmores? And I'm truly delighted you haven't given up on me. I have surfaced, after a fashion, and after moaning for Scotland last night I then spent hours trawlinh Youtube for Catriona Macdonald clips ( she's the Shetland fiddle diva) If you can be bothered, have a wee look at her playing on a clip called 'The Trowie Burn' It is nothing short of divine. I'm trying to teach it to myself, but I amn't fit to rosin the bow of Ms Macdonald. She is a goddess...

Mel said...

Oh dear, I sort of assumed that most knitter folk across The Pond knew about "The Scottish Woman" (think, "The Scottish Play"). This is Alice's and her daughter Jade's website:

And this is a bit of background on why she's something of a notorious figure in the knitting world:

Someday, when we do manage to make it to Shetland, I would love to meet Peter Jamieson (David knows him) and ask him about it.

Debi Gliori said...

What a long and tangled history the Starmores have. I'm assuming that the Jamiesons referred to in the article are the same folk who have a large yarn shop in the centre of Lerwick?

Inter-island feuds can be bitter and span generations. This sounds like a major snit and falling out between the Isle of Lewis and the Shetlands.

What a complete pain for knitters who had bought the yarn on trust and begun the knitting of some vastly complex piece only to discover that they could no longer obtain the relevant colours.

And I am such an ignoramus - I had never heard of Alice or Jade Starmore.