Lighthouse Letters
By Sharma Krauskopf

This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.

A Small Gigantic Country

Feet propped up on my desk I hold my coffee cup with both hands, not for warmth, but to see if the heat will ease my aching fingers. Snow is falling gently outside my window and the sight of each big fat flake brushes me with a soft and tender feather of calm and peace. I am focused on the window because I cannot bear to look at the piles of books spread all around me or that demanding blinking cursor on my computer's monitor. How did I get to this devoured state? Like most things in our lives it was a series of circumstances, some of which I had control over and some I did not. The heart of the matter is my agreeing to write the text for a Complete Guide to Scotland for Appletree Press who is also publishing my book on Scottish Lighthouses. Having never written a guide book, I looked forward to this adventure with great joy. Then those circumstances began to take hold and change the adventure more into a huge challenge.

First, the publisher moved up the publication date to early Spring. When I was told I was a little panicked but felt it was still quite possible. Then negotiations with a big US publisher to become co-publishers got slowed down. While that was transpiring, I felt like a horse held in the starting gate waiting on the bell to ring so I could be off. Finally, the agreement was completed. The US publisher was going to feature the book in their turn of the century list in the spring of 2000 which thrilled us all. But - I still had to run the same course writing a 70,000 word guide book but now only two months separated me from the March first finish line. We could have changed the deadline but the publisher wanted it for their Summer list and I wanted the task completed. Sure of my stamina and ability I began. Well, let me tell you writing a guide book is no easy task especially when the country is Scotland. At this point I am 50,000 words into the draft and ready for the first completed section to be sent to the Ireland to begin the road to hard copy publication. To get here has taken hours and hours of work. My husband has taken over most of the domestic chores including cooking and cleaning. Every morning I am at the computer by 8:00 and do not until quit until 4:00 pm. After shutting off the computer I proofread hard copy for the next day's corrections. Thank goodness for the Christmas and New Year Holiday both of which I allowed myself a few hours to celebrate.

Having said all that you may think I haven't enjoyed my task but even with aching hands and headaches from too much time at the computer screen I have loved every minute of it. You are probably saying to yourself "Is she nuts?" The answer probably is yes. But, I am a Celtic Soul and love Scotland with a passion that is growing every day because of the book. Who would have ever thought a small country could have so much? As I wander through the various town searching for what needs to go in the book, I am constantly amazed at what I find. Scotland has everything anyone would want from fabulous castles; grand scenery including the most stunning mountains, dramatic coastline, and fascinating islands; exciting some what bloody history; bright and glittering modern cities whose foundations are old and ancient; and diverse extraordinary shopping. If that wasn't enough you throw in all of the inventions and famous people which called Scotland ‘home' and the country becomes not small but gigantic. At first I wondered if there were 70,000 words that needed to be said about Scotland. That shows you what someone who has been in every area of Scotland knows! I have to pick and choose out of each area otherwise the book would be 200,000 words or more.

The Western Isles await my attention so it is time to stop watching the snow and get back to work. One closing thought: I hope lots of people buy the Guide book and enjoy it but one thing for sure the author has taken a in-depth course in Scotland and concluded: Scotland is a Small Gigantic Country.

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