My novel Not Always To Plan was released yesterday. It was an odd day, really, because it’s an ebook so there’s no big launch, no pile of printed books in my hall. Out it goes into the ether, easily accessed by anyone around the world with an internet connection. A stealthy release. I celebrated by tucking into a big breakfast by the ocean. The sky was a fantastic silvery grey, the sea still full of people swimming and surfing, and because it was Easter Monday there were crowds everywhere. I couldn’t think of a much better day, laid back and relaxed.
Except, inevitably, I thought of those people who wouldn’t be there to help me celebrate. Like my mother, who died in 2010. She had always been proud of my desire to write. I remember a time when I was a teenager and she showed me various short stories that were published in the back of a magazine that I can’t remember the title of. She suggested I write something for it. “Me?” I’ve learned that when you think you cannot do something then it is usually a call for you to do it. If that makes sense. So I did it, writing a short piece in spare prose that I thought achingly modern. It was rejected, of course, but the idea of writing for others had taken seed.
And I thought of my friend Glyn who I’d met at school when I was fourteen. We became soul mates, I suppose you’d say, always knowing what the other was thinking. We liked nothing more than making the other laugh. I’ve never met someone who could make me laugh so much and for so long. When we left school, we would write little plays to each other that mercilessly (and probably cruelly) caricatured every person we knew. Later again, we attempted a blockbuster novel, even getting to the stage of taking the first chapters to a large literary agency in London who said yes, when it was finished they would find a market for it. We never did. Crazy. And then life, or death intervened, taking this wonderful, life-affirming person away from his family and robbing me of my best friend.
So the day of my novel’s release had a bitter-sweet edge to it. And that, I think, is perfect. Because when something big happens in your life, it feels good to look back and be grateful to those special people who helped bring you to this place.