I have returned.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — this whole year I mean! It will certainly be a wonderful year to look back on and yet as we now find ourselves in October, the fun is only just beginning! Can I take any more? You bet I can!
I sound like an egotist with all my tales of great things, so forgive the indulgence, please. Blushes. And do share your stories on the success page as well. I feel like I’m just talking about myself! And here I go again …
So Tuesday was a fantastic start to the month when I will finally hold my debut novel in these hands — cue Bon Jovi song, no wait that’s in these arms — well I might well hug the book as well as sniff it! You know what I mean!
Well, it started with a drive to Chester with my friend Fran from my village and for the first time ever I had a personal shopper at the big Debenhams. I expected to be told as I continually said “I look too fat” that the dresses I usually buy (not often) do not suit me! And she did say I had to have an open mind and try on everything she suggested. But actually the dresses that did suit were the exact same style I usually buy! And the first one I tried on ended up being one that I bought! And the last one too — yes I did succumb and buy two! One per launch! Well you only have your debut once — right? As well as dresses I bought a new Jasper Conran jacket and shiny black boots! Oh and a scarf and I will not say how much I spent. I actually paid little heed to the price tags — which never happens with me! So while Mr new shiny credit card took the brunt, it will now be paid for with the Bath Short Story winnings. A good use of the winnings, right? And still some left over for the Manilow concert ticket! I was delighted to find I did know what suited and had not been making terrible decisions for most of my life! And I now have my outfits hung on the spare room as a tease — a reminder that yeah, this is really happening! And no I didn’t lose the stone or two I wanted to, to look dead slim. But you can’t have it all!
So shopping done with relative ease we lunched in a little Italian place before being dropped at the station of Phase 2 — so I really am a writer day. And thanks so much to Fran for suggesting we did this and for booking the personal shopper and driving me there! She also helped with comments as I paraded in front of the mirror in about 20 different outfits! So indulgent! The shopper’s daughter studies creative writing oddly so she also took the details of the book and loved the reason for my indulgent shopping.
Anyway, on the train, for once minus the dog, I did some copy-editing — although the facing backwards, feeling tired thing meant I didn’t do a lot! I had to surrender to the queasiness — also I suspect augmented by excitement!
Then it was a hop from Euston to the hotel, a Georgian place half a mile away, a quick shower and I did wear the new Jasper Conran jacket and shiny boots! Then a cab ride to Pall Mall and wow — Marlborough House, the Blenheim suite (there are some Manilow associations there oddly for me) and oh yeah — wow again!
I felt like I was in a palace and when you looked up at the paintings it was like — oh my!
Well see here (I did borrow this image as well — I did not feel a camera poised was quite appropriate!)
I met up the Joe again, the intern from Commonwealth Writers, and that was lovely and the co-winner of the 2013 Short Story Prize Eliza Robertson. I also saw Robin Jones from Unthank Books, literary agent and had a lovely chat about all things books and more. There were a lot of important people there and I found myself thinking am I really here with all these writers, journalists, judges, agents, Ambassadors? I met people from The British Council who send writers abroad, chatted to one or two editors, a couple of journalists and a couple of agents. It was lovely and I think what the Commonwealth Writers do to make the world a little closer by seeking out new voices from the 54 countries of the Commonwealth is just lovely. I was honoured to be there. And the canapés were nice too! (And that’s why I didn’t lose the weight! Actually I only had a couple in the end — but they were nice!)
So all talked out and after raising our glasses to the short story and the opening of the 2014 prize whose emphasis this year is only on the short story, we finally made our way home — me back to my hotel.
I phoned Mum to tell her about the evening, sent a message to the kind friend who made it possible for me to go and then chilled in front of the TV.
I did miss the peace of my country village as there were lots of traffic sounds even though I was in a cosy little attic room looking at the gables of all these fancy Georgian buildings. But even the traffic finally lulled me to a peaceful slumber.
Up early though and after breakfast (like how can you not have eggs and toast and beans when away!) and I sat in my room at the desk and copy-edited for an hour and a half before the short walk to Euston station. I then found a quietish table where I did some more work before a nice long phone chat with my publicist! The official release of the novel in the US, it turns out, will be in the spring when I have my LA party — but it can still be bought from some online US sites before then.
Then train and home to a very very happy dog and purring playful cats and a 24 hours that were just purrfect.
And Fran, who collected me from the station, and who’d walked Rosie for me while I was away, gave me some flowers to end the perfect day.
So it seems not only do dreams come true but people do the nicest things. Fran for showing me shopping can be a pleasure and for lifting me out of ordinary for a while, Joe and the Commonwealth Writers for certainly lifting me out of the norm, and to the friend who made it possible with an act of generosity I am still bowled over by and will never forget.
And that was my feeling like an important person day.
And now, fearing none of my own writing again, but never mind, I now want to finish the copy-edit to post off and then tomorrow I hope to do lots of my own writing.
Good being a writer, in it? And never forget that 🙂 Like I always say — anything is always possible — you just have to believe. This time last year, who’d’ve thunk it, right? And to Lee, who I know is looking down and loving all of this! He always believed.