What am I doing here?

Well, everybody. I'm writing this in the reading room of the National Library of Scotland, convinced that I'm surrounded by people who are smarter than I am, work harder than I do...and are definitely younger...except for the legendary professorial presences who also haunt these halls. I am, in short, intimidated and guilt-struck. This is by no means a novel sensation for me. I’m Scottish.

And I'm not an academic. I mean, I'm not stupid, but I'm not a scholar, and I'm surrounded by scholars here, quietly tapping on their laptops, purple sparks of intelligence dancing round their heads. No, what I am is a playwright, and playwrights are only coincidentally, and not even necessarily "writers". Let alone academics.

So what am I doing here?

I’m doing what they’re all doing. I’m reading. I’m reading and responding to what I read.

What a playwright is, is a maker of plays. There's a "gh" in Wright. In my case, I stole my definition of a playwright from the definition of an animator by the great Chuck Jones and applied it to my job. I am an actor with a pencil.

Or, at the moment, a self conscious actor with a steam driven Dell PC whose battery keeps falling out, itself cringing at all the Mac Books, Life Books and Advents all around it.

Anyway, in the course of the next year, I'm going to be treasure hunting on an island of words called the John Murray Archive, finding objects, documents which will eventually feature on a website…which itself will act as a gateway into what I’ve come to understand, over the past few years, is a different kind of way of looking at history.

This mountain of paper that passed across the desks of John Murray and his six identically named successors over the last two hundred and fifty odd years…is a kind of prism. It gives a perspective, a very particular perspective on what people thought and talked about over two and a half centuries.

Where do I think I'm going with this?
I'm aiming to create a gallery of the twenty or thirty most surprising, entertaining, enlightening or amusing things I can find while I'm rooting around in here. These will eventually get compiled into a web feature of some description. We've been batting ideas back and forth, but I think what we're going to end up doing is selecting lines from documents in the archive that provoke an emotional response, first of all in me, because of the stories that they tell, but which might inspire others, specifically school pupils, to write stories of their own that express the same emotions...so what I need to do is explore the archive for stories, for felings, for inspiration...and pass that on.

This blog is a record of that progress...and some other stuff that might seem like a good idea at the time.

I digress

I just do, okay?

While I'm searching for my top twenty or thirty objects to assemble my personal gallery, I'm going to be diving into the many writers and personalities who are also lurking here with me in the cages, and occasionaly having conversations with them which may not contribute much to the end product, but too bad.