Former Church of Scotland minister turned full-time freelance journalist, Ron Ferguson, is to write his last regular column for Life and Work magazine in December.
And in the current issue of the Church of Scotland’s monthly magazine, the Orkney-based Dunfermline-born writer, who is 71 later this month, has been amusingly reflecting on the challenges of producing his 720-word column each month.
He explains to readers his decision to quit: “About a year or so ago, I wrote to Lynne (McNeil), our esteemed editor to say that I wanted to give up in May of this year.
“Lynne kindly demurred, but I was determined to give up while I was still enjoying it, if you know what I mean. At the end of the day it suited both parties to extend the date till December.”
Ferguson, who writes regularly for The Herald and the Press and Journal, explains the mechanics of column writing: “What normally happens is that words and images float into my small but perfectly formed heid, and connect up with life experiences, books, films and conversations late into the night.
“Something inchoate forms, and soon stream-of-consciousness words are tumbling on to the computer. As with any book, the piece is never ‘finished’, only abandoned as the deadline looms.”
He points out that …”printers’ ink has been coursing through my veins since I was 16 years old, working for the Cowdenbeath Advertiser and Kelty News”.
Disarmingly, he explains: “I’ve never scratched around for things to say, never had ‘writer’s block’. You’ve got to be brilliant to suffer from that condition.
“The very act of producing a regular column – with a photie of one’s crazed wee physiognomy alongside it – is, by definition, an egotistical thing to do.”
Ferguson, who has written 14 books, was a journalist in Fife and Edinburgh, from 1956 to 1963, before being ordained as a minister in 1972. He was Leader of the Iona Community from 1981-88, and minister of St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney, from 1990-2001.
The Sunday Herald’s associate editor, Alan Taylor, also writes a monthly column for Life and Work.