Today I got to hold my new book for the first time. Yes, it is like holding a baby. But this baby is more special than most. I know all new parents say that and I hope you’ll forgive the analogy as you read on…because my real offspring and this published one are inextricably intertwined.
This book, my Crime Dictionary, sprang to life at a book launch. I had brought my daughter along at what was a very tough time for us as we were yet again facing the possibility she would have to go back into hospital. This time, though, the stakes were higher because I knew I could not let that happen. It would have killed her.
I knew that because I have spent five of the past ten years fighting to love her back to health and life and the five before that fighting to give her everything I could after her father simply disappeared one day and abandoned us. After ten years together. A classic tale with a twist of another woman who would end up being one of my best allies but that’s another story. Let’s go back to that book launch and the fact I had a couple of glasses of wine to steady my nerves.
Those glasses of wine unleashed the flood of ideas that had been bubbling in my brain through the long nights spent trudging home from hospital and the even longer days nursing her on my own. Anyone who has suddenly had to become a carer will know that your confidence slowly seeps away to be replaced by a creeping sense of despair. Except I never did. I was always writing when I could. Ideas in notebooks, paragraphs and characters in my head. Even an entire novel.
But that evening a grape-fuelled spark led me to blurt out a whole stream of ideas to the author, Jonathon Green’s publisher, who is now mine. It was only later I learned that Duncan Proudfoot is that rare thing – a true gentleman who is also prepared to take a creative risk. He loved the idea. He actually pressed me to write it. And so I did, in the process falling back in love with the thing I think of as akin to breathing.
I also acquired a new agent, the indominitable Lisa Moylett who understood what it is to love a child beyond life itself, for her own reasons. She also happens to be the kind of strong, smart, brilliant woman anyone would want on their side. Thanks to her and her co-agents, I began to bring life to other ideas I had. Ideas that are now taking form in more new books.
At the same time, my daughter was getting better, buoyed up by unstinting love and stellar exam results that she worked her socks off to achieve. She is now poised for university, to study robotics engineering so she can save the world. Another example of not giving up. The road to publication was bumpy as life threw us more missiles than we could ever imagine. But we got there. And today I unpacked a box full of my new book, From Aconite To The Zodiac Killer: A Dictionary of Crime.
What’s my message here? Obviously, never give up.
More than that, never give up believing in yourself.
Even when you are faced with a potentially fatal illness, a narcissistic misogynist you had the temerity to turn down or the kind of unwarranted media storm you wouldn’t wish on anyone, hold fast to the thing you know to be true: you.
If there is something in you that wants to create something, whatever it is, then you will get there. It may not be in the way you imagined, or as fast as you would like, but giving up on your dreams means giving up on you.
The pic that goes with this piece shows you what happens when you choose not to.
When you choose you.
P.S. A friendly note to all keyboard warriors – we log IP addresses.