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I’m never, never, never on the stage … yet I’ve gone and written a book. And in doing so have been forced (forced myself really) onto a stage of sorts. Truly, the experience is as terrifying as I imagine it would be in real life if it ever were to happen. Which it won’t, not now.

I was an angel once, when I was five. That was a happy experience because we were all angels, every child in the class, and there was no stage. When I was twelve it was my turn to read a passage from the bible in assembly. The terror of that has stayed with me. The jelly legs, the quivering voice that would not find its way out of the closing throat. Never again.

Yet twice as an adult I have found myself on stage. Once I was a fairy (Fairy Liquid!) in my daughter’s playgroup pantomime. I was at the back, in the chorus of other fairies and still it was terrifying. Another time, to raise funds for the PTA I found myself involved in a musical group called The Reluctant Wilburys. The name says it all – I think it might have been my suggestion. My husband, who’s a musician and often on stage, took part and to our joint relief took over and organised us into something that turned out alright on the night. We sang together and played instruments (I might have had a tambourine) and everybody clapped. Yes, I was terrified but the feeling when it was over was amazing. It makes me think of that book (which I was probably reading at the time) … Feel the Fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers. I did, and I did. But I wasn’t doing it alone, and I was at the back and had only to hum along in the chorus and tap the tambourine against my thigh, both of which I did softly so if I was out of time and out of tune it wouldn’t matter.

It was very like that with my book. The ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ bit. I plunged into a terrifying public world. I went straight to Kindle, so I’m out there, on a stage of sorts, all on my own. It’s scary!

I know as a self-published writer I should be out there trying to get some sort of high profile, or is it called a platform? Stage, platform, it’s the same, and just as scary. Which, if a publisher were ever to read this, would probably make me, as an introvert with an ‘author profile’ that seeks the shadows not the limelight, an unlikely prospect. But would I want a publisher now? Yes, probably. To have someone else promoting your work must be wonderful, and leave the writer free to write. Or perhaps not. From what I’ve read, all writers are meant to actively promote themselves and their work these days. Yet I still think the writing, the books, are products that should in an ideal (probably old-fashioned) world, speak for themselves.

There are things in my home I’ve bought that I love. I chose them without knowledge or care for their inventor. I read books in the same way. In fact, I like an author to be a bit of a mystery. Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson are two of my favourite writers and I know very little about them.

Today a new 5 star review was posted to Daisychains of Silence by Catherine MacLeod on Amazon and also to goodreads. It’s by Sam Kirshaw, a writer I admire immensely and the author of The Cushion Effect, a novel of searing emotional intelligence that captivated me with its tenderness and empathy.  It’s an amazing review, yet it leaves me shaking partly because I know I should tell you about it. I am reluctant. I am thrilled. I am terrified.

Sam writes, ‘The book is a triumph of literary crossover fiction inspiring both young women of today and their maturer counterparts.’ You can read the review in its entirety HERE.


Or, how to make your dreams come true without actually going to heaven.

Update Christmas eve 2012. I wrote this last year, and once again it’s Christmas eve, and I feel blessed to be here…

This time last year my novel was written but not published, and I was dying. Seriously, I really was. On the 20th December, 2010 I’d had what I’d been led to believe was a ‘routine’ operation. The fact it was keyhole surgery made it seem almost a minor procedure, and I was up and about, walking round the ward as soon as I woke from the anaesthetic. I’d done my homework and knew it was important to get moving as quickly as possible.  I was determined. Oh yes I was, and I planned to discharge myself the day after surgery, or at the very latest on the 22nd, my wedding anniversary. So I wanted to show everyone – the doctors and nurses, concerned family and friends – how the whole thing was a breeze and I was fine. Fine enough to go home and get on with my life.

The hospital food was delicious on the way down. Not so good when it came back up. Yes, I ate the evening meal I’d ordered then I vomited the lot. They said it was the after-effects of the anaesthetic, so I dismissed it and carried on walking round the corridors of the ward, feeling a little proud about how well I was doing. No lounging about in bed for me. I was young and healthy and I was going home tomorrow. Oh yes I was.

I vomited all through the night.

I ate breakfast, vomited then I walked round the wards.

I ate lunch, vomited then I walked round the wards.

They gave me injections to stop the vomiting, straight into my bum-cheek just like in the old comedy films.

I ate tea and vomited.

I ate dinner and vomited.

I vomited all through the night in between walking round the wards.

Then it was the 22nd and I was going home. Oh yes I was. I was up and dressed and when I wasn’t vomiting I was practically bouncing round the wards. I packed my bag, said goodbye to all the lovely nurses and a few patients less fortunate than I who looked like they might not be going home for Christmas.

Oh, I forgot to mention it was snowing. Really heavy snow blanketed the ground. The car park transformed into an ice rink but I wasn’t fazed. Supported by my husband and daughter, I crunched my way through the snow to the car. I was assured the vomiting would wear off with the anaesthetic, and I was going home, no matter how deep the snow. Oh yes I was.

Home. Bliss. Vomiting.

More of the same with a couple of trips to outpatients where I was given more anti-sickness injections in my bum and some anti-sickness tablets to take, none of which made the slightest difference to my vomiting prowess. I could hit a wall at ten paces, so forceful was my body’s disgust at whatever was happening to it.

I’ll skip to Christmas eve. My husband had a gig (he’s a musician) so my daughter stayed in with me. I felt terrible and I looked terrible, but it took us both a while to realise that I might actually be as ill as I felt and looked. My daughter got on the phone – to the out of hours GP service, the local hospital, the hospital where I’d had the op. Hold, star3, wait for a call-back. No one wanted to make a decision about me. I was by this time practically unconscious, so my daughter dialled 999. They wanted to speak to me, the patient. Like a good girl I summoned my stalwart attitude and explained what had happened and how I was feeling. It seems I managed a degree of coherence that unfortunately convinced the medical professional on the other end of the phone that this was clearly just a minor setback from routine surgery, and as such could be managed perfectly well at home. I should wait for the out of hours GP to call me back.

1 am. My husband arrived back from a jolly Christmas eve to find me practically comatose and my daughter frantic. Another 999 call and we were told to wait for the doctor to call us back. They would not send an ambulance.

Lucky for me my husband doesn’t drink when he’s playing. He bundled me into the car and took me to Accident and Emergency, my daughter cradling me in the back seat.  They lifted me into a wheelchair and wheeled me in. The staff took one look and waved us straight to assessment.

They pricked my finger and tested my blood within seconds. Within minutes I was given a life-saving injection and put on a drip. They didn’t yet know what was wrong, but they did know I was very ill; the doctor told me I was in imminent danger of renal failure, seizures and coma.

I was admitted to a ward and my lovely family clustered round my bed, fear etched on their faces as days and nights merged; Christmas was happening somewhere else while a trail of doctors came and prodded and went. I can’t remember much about it as I was barely conscious, except for when I vomited, which continued hourly in spite of all the medical interventions they were able to access under a skeleton staff.

The 27th December 2010.

3.30 pm. They still didn’t know what was wrong but I was worsening by the hour so someone was going to come in on the bank holiday to operate the CT scanner, especially for me.

9.00 pm. I’m being wheeled into the operating theatre, to have emergency life-saving surgery. My intestines had been sewn into my operation wound and I was told to prepare myself for the possibility that I’d wake with a stoma (colostomy bag).

That wasn’t necessary, thank goodness and now I get to the point (at last…).

The anaesthetist, the doctors, the nurses, they were all lovely, and chatted away to help me relax and calm my anxiety. They asked me about my family, and they filled in the forms for me so all I had to do was sign. They asked what I do.

I’d nearly died. I was still dying. Until they’d sorted me out I might still die – it was major surgery and I was going to be cut open and there was no guarantee about any of this. It was now or never.

“I’m a writer,” I said.

Oh yes I am.

Add to your goodreads shelf

Daisychains of Silence

On Amazon Kindle

The Ripening Time

On Amazon Kindle

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