Stage Fright

I am often amazed at human kindness. One of the scariest moments I have recently experienced was when I had to press a small green button in front of a bank-teller on Mid-Street in Keith. Keith, I hear you say. For the uninitiated, it’s a town in Moray just over the border from Aberdeenshire.
Known as the friendly town – and I can vouch for that accolade – the inhabitants are in the habit of saying hello at every opportunity. Even if they don’t know you from Adam, an upbeat ‘hello and how are you today?’ followed by a reassuring pause to discus the weather usually interrupts any High Street jaunt. A selection of traditional shops, including a butcher who, alongside selling the traditional range of animal body-parts also sells local-history books completes the picture.
But I digress. That scary moment involved the purchasing of a house and the button in question would, given the press of a single digit, send untold thousands of hard-earned pounds into the ether of the banking internet to hopefully end up in the client account of my solicitor’s sweaty hand. The kind word was from the bank teller. ‘Go on, go for it. It’ll be fine’ I heard her say. And, of course, it was. The new place was bought and paid for in a nano-second and who am I to complain.
It’s the same with writing. After sweating over a feature or – in my case a recently published book – there comes that moment when the words are as polished as they ever will be and the lap-top spell checker is breathing its last.
At that point there is nothing much else to do apart from consign them – all 60 thousand of them in the case of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire – to the editor. And that is the hard part since once they are consigned, there is really no way to backtrack. Heart in mouth, the words have gained new ownership and all of that angst takes on a completely new dimension. ‘Did I send out the wrong file’ – yes, I have done that at least the once. ‘Will the editor understand what I have tried to say in para 17 on page 93’ and, of course, ‘does any of what I have written make sense’.
It’s a bit like stage fright I suppose. And, no matter how often I press that button, it never becomes any easier. But thankfully, the readers on the other end of the transaction have to date been unequivocally kind.
And, at the end of the day, I can always cling to the belief that all the right words were there – but not necessarily in the right order.


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