Alexander McCall Smith woke up one morning – about a week ago – with a new poem fixed firmly in his mind. It had revealed itself to the subconscious realms of his mind while asleep. This is not uncommon for writers. John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, wrote that book from his subconscious in three intense days of writing. Steve Martin, actor and writer, commented ‘The conscious mind is the editor, and the subconscious mind is the writer. And the joy of writing, when you’re writing from your subconscious, is beautiful — it’s thrilling.’ Alexander often finds that he has been constructing his novels in the subconscious and they come our more or less fully formed.
We have now recorded Alexander reading his poem, ‘My Irreplaceable Other’, and set it against the beautiful views of a reservoir in the Scottish Borders – Baddinsgill Reservoir in the Pentland Hills, a range of hills to the south of Edinburgh which are often mentioned in Alexander’s books.
We share it with you now in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, 2021. You can find more of his poetry in his recent collection, In a Time of Distance.
You can join Alexander in conversation with Serena Field of the BBC, hosted by the National Library of Scotland – as he talks about his poetry and his forthcoming works of fiction. 16 March 2021. Book now (free) on Eventbrite .