Stoaters


I’ve been working away on The Scottish Ambassador project for three years now. I’m so close to done – just a few more trips to take. I’ve still got to learn Gaelic in Salt Lake City, bagpipe lessons await in New Jersey and I still have to meet my monster, Nessie (in lesser known rollercoaster form), in Virginia.

It’s been so much larger a project than I first imagined back when I was living between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C. and working away as a travel writer. Since then, the book has taken me to both sides of Oahu, Hawaii, obscure corners of Oregon, suburbs of Chicago, the heart of Memphis and the hem of the Pacific in Northwestern Washington state. I’ve gone to the wrong side of the tracks in Arizona, survived a slew of Highland Games, run into the mayor of Glasgow in New York, argued with Mary Queen of Scots in Vegas, been interviewed by CBC, been piped out of a parking lot in Florida, tested my allergies to the limit at a Scottie festival in rural Georgia and found myself knee deep in mud in backwoods Tennessee.

Since beginning the book, so much has changed. I sold my place in Vancouver and moved my belongings and life all the way across Canada. I’ve been in Toronto for 18 months now and suspect this may well be the best city in the world. Sorry, Glasgow. Having said that, I’m definitely beginning to notice other cities again. I suppose restlessness is a likely state for a travel writer.

I haven’t done a book trip for ten months now. Usually I post ramblings on here taken from the book, but I’ve been concentrating on writing an agent-nabbing proposal for the last wee while… and I’ve also been working away as an editor here in Toronto. I’m now the Editor of Private Islands Magazine. Who knew such a thing existed? Or that 20,000 people read such a tome in print every six months, with another 80,000 reading online. Astounding. It turns out there are a vast number of private islands out there, all with fascinating stories and unlikely characters. I have to be all discreet and not name the celebrities that own some of the properties we cover. A couple of weeks ago I was writing up an island in the Grenadines that costs $80,000 to rent a night. On Monday I interviewed a “personality” who was given a yacht for her second wedding anniversary. It’s a very different world to my Scottish Ambassador travels.

I’ll be getting back to writing my own tome once this issue of the magazine goes to press at the beginning of April. I can’t wait. Working on The SA project has been one of the most challenging and satisfying things I’ve ever done and I miss it. I really appreciate all of you who have been reading this blog and sending me messages and comments here and on Facebook. You’re all stoaters.

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