I’m currently on a pilgrimage to Scotland, land of my ancestors and setting of my novel. Full Scottish Breakfast. Here are some pictures of Rait Castle, home of the Rait Castle Ghost. Looking up at the window from which she fell, it fills me with a sense of awe that she really existed. She is a part of history, and I hope I’ve done her justice in the novel.
I just noticed something…
At the end of my street, there is a blob of cement that looks like a musical note, left over from a repaving project. And I thought, laughing…look at that; music can be found anywhere, can’t it? Even in the most mundane places, there it is. I spent the rest of my walk humming to myself.
People sometimes pose the question: If you had to give up one of your five senses, which would you choose? And I used to think, oh–touch. I could live without the ability to feel things. But not to be able to sense the texture of a warm blanket, the smoothness of a baby’s skin? No, thank you.
Smell, then. We don’t always think of smell until the ripe odor of garbage permeates our consciousness, but what about roses…oh damn, what about single malt whisky? Nope. Not that one!
Ok, taste. I could give up taste. I’m always trying to stay on a diet, anyway; that would help a lot, actually. But then…chocolate? Mac and Cheese? Not to taste my morning coffee? Oh hell, no!
And now we’re up to the big two–sight and hearing. Between those, how could I give up the images of this amazing world in which we live? The ocean at dawn? Mist lowering over the mountains? The varied colors of the city? Not a chance!
So, hearing, then? I could stand not to have to listen to the din of traffic, the prattle of that annoying woman in the office who never, ever shuts up. But…music. I judge the worth of a historical movie by its music: Last of the Mohicans, Dances with Wolves.. That guy on the High Street in Inverness who sang “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables with so much passion and beauty that I found myself crying.
It’s an impossible question to answer for a writer. We need all our senses to express the beauty, the sorrow, and the mystery of this life, and I hope I never have to experience the loss of one.
A musical note in the pavement calls to sight, hearing, and touch, and opens the imagination to the possibilities inherent in the simplest things this world has to offer. It’s those small pleasures, or pains, or amusements, that make life interesting.
It’s why I write.
This is the window from which the Comyn daughter tried to escape after warning her lover of a plot by her family to kill him and all his clan. Above is the tower window from which she fell, chased to her death by her own father. History is full of examples of heartless betrayal and enduring love such as that of the Comyn girl and her Mackintosh lover, and it is we writers who are tasked with sharing their stories.
Rait is one of the finest examples of a Scottish hall castle still standing. It is located outside of Nairn, near the city of Inverness.