Monday, 30 April 2012

The Longest Journey

 Awa' tae the editorial offices

Alex peered out gloomily.  'Aren't we there yet?  We seem to have been travelling for days.  I thought you said rail-travel was quick!'

'So it is', William reassured him.  'It took you three MONTHS to cover 1200 miles, largely on foot, in 1815.  You're not grumbling about a weekend traveling from Scotland to England?'

Wearily, James opened his eyes, irritably elbowing his travelling-companions in the ribs.  'Considering we're travelliing First Class, I'd have expected to be there by now.  Hey, move over, you two.  There's nae room for my auld creekin' joints, the way you've spread yourselves out.  And you, Robert - do you have to stretch your legs out like that?  You've already taken up enough room in her book without literally occuping the whole coach!'

'Well, I like that!', Robert blustered.  'It's not my fault if she decided to expand my contribution from one chapter to two!  I didn't ask her to invite all those Welsh bards and Irish militants, either!  If you ask me, one harp is plenty.  An eisteddfod or harpers' convention is a guid few minstrels too many.  Anyway, you and William got a chapter between you - you got quoted verbatim every bit as much as I did!'

'James, you aye were a grumpy old curmudgeon', Andrew chipped in sociably.

'Ach, quit yer fightin', you lot!  All I can say is, the sooner we get there, the better', Alex sighed.  'I'm getting too old for long jaunts, what with the gout an' a' that!  Someone just tell me when we get to the offices!'

And with that, he closed his eyes wearily and dozed off again. He'd never expected to travel down to England at his advanced age.  Why, even his daughter died well over a century ago!


Suddenly, there was a jolt.  Then another.  The compatriots and their English companion were roughly bumped against one another.  Then again.  And again.

"Awright, mate?  There you go, then.  Delivery from Scotland ..."

The song-collectors exchanged anxious glances.  So ... had they reached their destination?

"Welcome to England" - as William Chappell might have said!

The majority of my imaginary friends (the Enlightenment and Victorian Scottish song collectors) have never been to England, but they've spent the weekend travelling down to Surrey in my manuscript submission.  By now they'll be gasping for air, not to mention their daily porridge.

The later Victorians are blase about it all, of course.  (The advent of railways made it so much easier to travel about.)  And Mr Chappell seems quite keen to demonstrate that England most certainly is NOT a Land without Music...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Evening After

From Seriph blog. They don't know me, but I love this image!
Feeling decidedly flat 

After a surfeit of excitement - lecturing and the book submission and a couple of conference papers, all in the space of one and a half months - suddenly I've stopped.  That's it; just the day-job and running a house and family!  My imaginary friends are nowhere to be seen; they've deserted me.  (Ho-hum!)

What on EARTH shall I do?  Already I'm looking for a new project of some sort ....

Friday, 27 April 2012

SubMission Accomplished

'Our Ancient National Airs' were saved to USB sticks, printed, parcelled and posted this morning.  Indeed, the parcel was in the mailvan before I was even back in my car!  By now, my book manuscript will be on its way down to the publisher.  I made the deadline.  Oh, yeah!

People are asking what I'm going to do next.  Well, speak at the Musica Scotica conference tomorrow, for a start.  And then try to remember what leisure-time actually is.  You know, I might go for a swim ...

We are "e-books" already!
Out of the chaos ...
Into the bag ..
Chauffeur-driven to the PO
And off to the sorting office

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Calm before the storm

Think of a storm - a real one or a musical one.  Now think of the calm before it.  The suspense.  The glancing at the grey-black sky with its ominous portent.  All hell is going to be let loose, sooner or later.

Here I sit, Thursday morning, having a quiet coffee before I go to give the last of my Strathclyde Lectures.  Thence on to my normal workplace for the afternoon.  So, is this the calm before the storm?  No, it's only a practice for the real storm tomorrow!

I'm sitting here with a laptop and a pink USB stick.  It's hard to imagine that they contain all I need for a book manuscript submission!  But it's true - all I need to to is print out the whole thing, save it various ways, and salley forth to the post office tomorrow.  So, there will be a flurry of activity the likes of which haven't been witnessed since my thesis submission on 1st July 2009 (see, I still remember the date!).  And then, ah then, I can fling a nice bottle of something celebratory into the supermarket trolley, and decide how and where to start tackling the backlog of STUFF that represents the rest of my daily life!

I'm familiar with 'what happens next' in magazine and scholarly journal contexts, but not with the book process.  So - meanwhile, I'll just keep blogging!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Where DID I get those words from?

No, I'm not referring to an un-sourced quotation.  (Heaven forbid!  That really would be most uncharacteristic of me.)  I'm continuing my informal listing of keywords for my future index, and I came across a paragraph that actually impressed me.  I must have been running on high-grade fuel the day I wrote that!  And for that matter, how did I come to know so many literary NAMES?  I've often joked that I know more dead Edinburgh folk than living ones.  Looking at my list, it's absolutely true!  Dozens of 18th and 19th century people from all over Scotland,and a good few from beyond the Scottish Borders.

All is right with the world today: my kind friend Daniel Dalet (we've never met, but he has been so helpful and generous in preparing my Scotland map for me) has inserted the names of Skye, Raasay, Scalpay and Stirling, and the map now provides the full context for my discussion of Alexander Campbell's tour round the Hebrides in 1815.

 Daniel hosts a fantastic resource called, which I'd commend to anyone needing a map for a book.  It's a really useful website!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Four days will see my book ms heading for London

 Spreading its wings ...

It's rather exhilharating to think that Our Ancient National Airs will be in a mail-van, train or plane to London by this time on Friday.  In Joseph Ritson's eyes, Scottish songs were like a beautiful, unspoilt peasant-girl, compared to a fine city Miss.  I can't really find much of a parallel in my pre- and post-publication book, although a colleague whose book has just been published tells me that it looks much more authoritative in its bound state than it ever did in Microsoft Word. 

Today, I've been reassured about the image which seemed to have lost the vital 'Scots' word: it hasn't.  (It was just how it turned out in the printout, but the digital image is fine.)  And the question of indexing looks hopeful.  I still need to sort out my omission of Skye, Raasay and Scalpay from the map - oh, they're there all right, but I omitted to label them!

Most significantly, I've now labelled where all the images should go, and renamed the images so that they make sense to the publisher.  This was all more fiddly than I'd expected; total consistency is crucial, and I had to ensure there was reference to the images in the text.  I hadn't expected to be making changes in the text this week.

I've booked Friday and Monday off work.  I need some calm daytime hours to get it all tied up, not to mention Monday to get over the efforts of the past few months!  I'm conscious I have no idea of what comes next, in book-publishing terms.  I've published scholarly and non-scholarly articles, not to mention a quantity of magazine short-stories and even a serial, but this is my first book.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Still counting down! Book ms gets posted on Friday

I've added a countdown timer from  All harmless fun.

Last night I checked my images.  All good, but one needs re-doing: it's missing the vital word "Scots" at the top of the image, and that's the whole point of the book.  Moreover, I seem to have omitted four place-names from my map, and that's a bit embarrassing!

Today,  I've seen a wedding couple about organ music, and re-jigged a powerpoint for my Musica Scotica conference paper next Saturday.   I've emailed my commissioning editor with a few practical queries.  And I've sorted out WHERE in the book the images are to go.  (Would you believe it could take a whole evening, up to nearly midnight, to do that?)  There's a wee formatting glitch which means I don't have page-references from the 'List of Illustrations' to the illustrations themselves, and I'm afraid I'll have to leave that to the editorial team.   I still need to improve some of the image filenames, and ensure they get a mention in the text.  And look for more index terms.

Do I need to take a day's annual leave to tie up loose ends, though?  To be discussed!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Final Countdown

Ancient National Airs

My book manuscript has to be at the publishers' by Monday 30th April, so by my calculations, it needs to be posted next Friday.  Seven days - this is the final countdown!

Today, I bought paper and ink (I should have enough already, but the PhD submission process taught me never to underestimate your requirements!) - and two USB sticks.  Tonight I'm going to look at my images and pay the copying/rights invoice, which mercifully came in much less than I'd dreaded.  Thanks, Glasgow Uni!

Tomorrow - back to the manuscript.

I'm reading a paper at the Musica Scotica conference in Glasgow next Saturday.  By then, I want to be able to say the magic words,

'... and my manuscript is in the post to the publishers.'
Just seven days. Starting from now ...

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Continuing golden silence?

'Three ways to make a song collection - and one way to annoy your neighbours'.  

Lucky Strathclyde music students to be getting such entertaining lecture titles!  Do I have the guts to take my new recorder along with me to demonstrate Mrs Macdonald of Staffa's reel, though?

Of course, none of this is getting the keywords listed for Our Ancient National Airs.  Maybe, now I've done the lecture, I should brew a quick cuppa and get on with a spot of keyword-identification!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Silence is golden?

A week has passed, and not a word has been edited or indexed.  This is largely because I've been first preoccupied with a paper, 'Crowdsourcing the Celtic Bard', and then I've attended the IAML (UK and Ireland) Annual Study Weekend and given said paper.  (I 'gave' rather than 'read' it.  There's a PowerPoint, but that's it.  I'll turn it into a Brio article in due course.)

It was back to the library today, but I have two nights in which to prepare a powerpoint for Thursday morning's 19th century Scottish music history lecture.  If I get THAT done, I can then return to the book manuscript.  Deadline 30th April - I received the images yesterday, but haven't had a chance to look at the disc yet.

If you're bard-curious, you can see my powerpoint presentation here.  My thanks to National Library of Wales music cataloguer Heini Davies for her significant help tracking down sources and expert authorities.

Now, I must charge my 'Imaginary Friends' mug and think seriously about 19th century Scottish history ... here goes ...

Monday, 9 April 2012

Once upon a time, 25 years ago,

This person had an unfinished PhD in 1987 - twenty-five years ago today.

But this one finished a completely different PhD in 2009.  And has a book manuscript about to be submitted in 2012.  Her three sons don't quite understand why she's so determined ...  it's because she doesn't want to attend her book-launch looking like this!

It's been a strange day today.  I've cooked and baked.  I tried to resist doing laundry (bank holiday + silver wedding anniversary should equate to no laundry, surely!) - but failed on that count.  However, we went out as a family for a fabulous meal, so the special day has been well and truly commemorated.  (In the same dress, I might add.)

And I've started listing indexing terms, to make the job of indexing the pdf a little quicker when the time comes.  Actually, it's a bit like being given permission to do the most extreme cataloguing possible, as one tries to pick up every term that anyone might care to search on.  The only trouble is, some threads run throughout the book.  So, for example, indexing "Authenticity" or "Accompaniment", is rather futile.  Even "fakery" or "metaphor" are going to take the hapless reader to an entire chapter in each case.  Still, I'll compile my list, and see what happens when the publisher sends me the pdf for indexing.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Word-counts: 110K (or thereabouts)

I've revised my book manuscript.  My maximum word-count is 110K and I've got 110,006.  Subtract the 'blurb' and I've got just enough to do my illustration captions, I reckon.

Job done?  Well, I'm certainly getting there.  There's still the question of deciding where the illustrations go, once I've received the digital images, not to mention thinking about indexing terms.  I now have three weeks left.  I'd better go over the submission instructions again, to make sure I obey them all!

Our Ancient National Airs are nearly airborne.  Although, arguably, there's always room for improvement, I'm beginning to feel that I can't do much more to the narrative now.  

And this week I still have to finish off my 'Crowdsourcing the Celtic Bard' paper for the IAML (UK and Irl) Annual Study Weekend.  It's rather strange to be thinking about Welsh sources whilst finalising a book about Scottish song collecting.  I got totally distracted by a 'Voicing the Verse' YouTube of a Welsh scholar declaiming early narrative verse to the accompaniment of a staff being thumped on the ground, this afternoon.  It was gripping stuff - and I don't even understand Welsh!  These bards sure do get under one's skin! 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Inch by inch

Book text revised, apart from a couple of pages that need further attention, and going over the bibliography.   That's for tomorrow, I think.  I don't feel any sense of triumph yet; maybe when I've done those pages, I'll feel different.  The day after a migraine isn't an ideal time for introspection.

And then I'll need to go through the whole document again, nitpicking and picking out keywords for future indexing. 

THREE weeks to go.  I'm still awaiting my digitised images, oh glory, must try not to panic ...

Friday, 6 April 2012

Intellectually Unfaithful

I've been neglecting my True Imaginary [Scottish] Friends, and composing a PowerPoint about their Welsh contemporaries.  By the end of the day, my eyes were out on stalks - there was no chance of concentrating on a book submission this evening.

Tomorrow, then.  Definitely tomorrow!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Ethics, actually

 Our Ancient National Airs: countdown to submission

I was just working on a footnote.  Suddenly, I realised that I might possibly, remotely have discovered the name of  someone's descendent - and in that case, maybe I have a tenuous thread by which I could investigate what happened to certain papers in his possession.

Eagerly, I started revising the footnote.  In it all went - tenuous link and all.  And then I stopped.  Should I be publishing names?  These are the first, tiny beginnings of a hunch, no more.  

I stopped, went and fixed supper, then went back and deleted my revisions.  It would be wrong to leave pure guesswork in that footnote, and wrong to divulge names of living descendents.  If I followed my hunch, and did all the tactful diplomacy stuff - which my supervisor thought I was quite good at, as it happens - then I might perhaps one day have a story to tell.  

But I'm not publishing guesswork.  I can't do it; it wouldn't be ethical.

Twenty more pages to revise, and then the appendices and bibliography.  Three and a half weeks to my submission date.  Will I manage it?  Watch this space.  Our Ancient National Airs are close to getting airborne!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Very little progress

 On the Virtue of Patience

I can't make much fuss about having revised a mere 13 pages this evening.  It's rather disappointing, really.  However, it has been a special day - the Prodigal Son returned from uni.  Not only the son, but also the fabulous Benslow Trust cello, which I hadn't seen before.

He humoured me by playing through my 'Alexander Campbell's Hebridean Suite' with me - my arrangement for flute, viola and cello of five Albyn's Anthology tunes.  Quite effective, really.  For me, my research is most fruitful when there's a creative, contemporary outcome.

Similarly, I was overjoyed last night to learn that my James Simpson research of a decade ago is proving of value in an undergraduate honours dissertation at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where I work.  He wants to make use of the material - flute tunes etc - in a contemporary context. I practically clapped with glee to get a completely unsolicited validation of my own philosophy.

Monday, 2 April 2012

New Friends at the Glasgow Highland Club

 The Alexander Campbell Show

I was the guest speaker at the Glasgow Highland Club this evening.  I sallied forth with my two Adler baroque recorders, Albyn's Anthology and a USB stick, and found that the High School of Glasgow's Pavilion had an excellent grand piano for the examples I'd chosen to illustrate in harmonised form. Bliss!

There was a good turnout, and what a lovely audience they proved to be!  People were very complimentary afterwards, too.  I do enjoy talking about Alexander Campbell's 1200-mile trip round the Hebrides.  The story lends itself to telling, and musical illustrations are easy to incorporate.  Likewise suitable images.  I'm wondering about seeing if I could find a storytelling day-course to attend sometime.  There might be further tricks of the trade I could incorporate ...

Campbell's story features in Chapter 3 of my book, Our Ancient National Airs.  Must remember to add the Highland Club of Glasgow to my list of people and organisations who've expressed an interest in the book.  (Must also get on with the final revisions tomorrow night.  But not tonight.)

Alexander Campbell was grateful for a 'bumper' of a clergyman's best 'conniack' [sic] at the end of a long night.  He was on a Hebridean Island and wasn't driving!  I'll have a celebratory G+T at supper-time.  Cementing our rapport across the centuries, you could say!

Wee treat to self from M and S!
Even the most earnest bluestocking can get mildly excited at the thought of having an excuse for a new outfit.  So, forgive me the digression - I bought this at lunchtime as a wee treat for myself, to wear to the Alexander Campbell show.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Exhaustion and no book revision

Baking orgy!
 Today has been somewhat busy ...

2 church services, a church concert, and an orgy of baking.  Not to mention a run-through of my lecture notes, powerpoint and musical examples - no wonder I'm exhausted. And small wonder no book revision has occurred. I'll put the situation right once tomorrow's lecture-recital is out of the way.