Heather Hill: Technology opening new vistas? That’s a laugh

Rural online working can be hamstrung by slow internet access. Picture: Getty Images
Rural online working can be hamstrung by slow internet access. Picture: Getty Images
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writers have for centuries been inspired by the South West Scotland countryside. Take one Mr Burns for instance, and Dorothy Wordsworth, Sir ­Walter Scott and J M Barrie, to name a few.

So here I am; a hopeful optimist trying to make a living the same way the greats did, and from the same part of the world.

I moved here in July 2016. As a comedy writer I write novels, articles and lines for stand-up comedians. There are hints of a promising future; a veteran producer is engaged in pitching my first novel as a film or TV series.

Given that we are in a digital age, book research and marketing should be easier than ever thanks to social media outlets, online publication platforms and the ability to support the often ­meagre earnings of this most financially insecure of pursuits with part-time work online.

It’s a veritable feast of possibility – it’s the perfect combination for a creative life, and with the added stimulus of Scotland’s ­finest views. I can show people on the other side of the planet, via my various online channels, how glorious this part of the world is. I like to think of myself as an ambassador, although I’m not giving out chocolates.

I can go forest bathing, wander up hills and glens and traipse over passes. In the spring, I can look out over land alive with lambs, calves, lapwings, ­oystercatchers, curlews, grouse, ­partridges and sparrowhawks. I might even spot a shy deer if I’m fortunate; or a golden eagle.

I can go to Google to see if I’m right about that eagle. The page containing a picture for comparison may load now, or occasionally in up to 15 minutes, but much more often not at all.

This, dear reader, is my reality. The truth about my new, richly-inspired life in the Lowther Hills is that technology has forgotten us here. Some might argue that is the best ­reason to come; ‘the greats’ became great without so much as a phone line. Yes, I can write. But I can’t compete in a modern, fast-moving and saturated marketplace. I can’t sell. We, and the ­hungry minds of our children, are missing the technological boat of progress.

As a consequence of moving here my working life has changed, only not as I anticipated. I’ve seen my books fall off best-sellers lists as I’m failing to market them ­effectively. I’m unable to ­produce a paperback version of one novel as I can’t upload the ­artwork. I’m late with my third novel thanks to the ­distraction of a six month battle with my ISP and nine weeks with no internet or phone service at all.

I frequently abandon ­trying to update my author blog and I’ve been incapable of ­working for a business that paid me for freelance online marketing, ­supporting me in my ­creative pursuits.

Can I send a manuscript to an agent that only accepts email submissions?

Can I attach and send this article in time for the deadline?

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Heather Hill is a comedy writer and author living near Elvanfoot, South Lanarkshire. www.heatherhillauthor.com