For those who read my last post, ‘A trifecta of unfortunate events’, there is a sequel, coming soon to a website near you. And it involves shovelling shit. Literally. But that’s not the tale I’m going to tell today. Today, Christmas Day, is a time for joy, love, peace and goodwill to all people, a day to celebrate life (see, I really didn’t mean it about the Monty Python song), most definitely not a day for first-world whinging. Today, I offer you this uplifting tale.
So I’ve written some books and I’m selling a few. It’s tough out there in the self-publishing world. But I did it, I surprised myself and I did it. I felt the fear and the anxiety and the doubt and I questioned my worth (I still do) but I did it.
My books are now for sale on shelves, both digital and real. Last week I approached three bookshops along Scarborough Beach Road in Perth. I don’t find it easy, this knocking on doors, asking people to look at my work, look at my life on a page. But those three bookshop owners embraced me and my books – one in particular, most clearly a kindred spirit, took the time to discover the story behind the writing, sat down with me for a chat, wanted to understand and see if my books and I were a good fit for her beautiful shop. I was and they were.
So now they are on shelves in real bookshops as well as through this website, Amazon US, UK and AU, and other online stores. In one shop Changing Lightbulbs is currently displayed with the new releases at the front of the shop, between Tina Brown from Vogue and Professor Brian Cox.
Are they selling, will they sell? Who knows. The universe will decide. I am a serial self-doubter, but I have had some amazing feedback which makes me think that writing is what I am meant to do, at least part of what I am meant to do, that in sharing my journey in Changing Lightbulbs, in baring my soul, I can have a positive impact on others, can help to break down shame and stigma and break through silence. Help others know it is OK to sometimes not be OK.
This little anecdote is a case in point. A couple of weeks ago I get a message through my website – ‘You have a new order’. I check it out. The address is in the street I have just moved to. Wow, I think. That’s crazy. There is an email address and a beautiful name. I email the lady with the beautiful name, ‘Hi, I can’t believe you have just bought my book and we live in the same street, I’ve just moved in …..’ I tell her I’ll drop it off, refund the shipping fee she paid. I do that forthwith.
She emails me back. Wants to know what we like to eat. She’ll make us a casserole for dinner – moving is horrible she says. Blimey, I think. I’ve moved into a street where people make casseroles for each other. We email back and forward a bit, and arrange for my son to pick up the food the next day. I would love to meet her but have a late meeting. Another time, we say.
I return from my meeting to a wonderful meal of tarragon scented chicken, paired with a carefully selected bottle of wine (I later discover the lady with the beautiful name is a wine guru) which we eat amidst the still unpacked boxes scattered around the family room. I feel blessed. Such kindness.
And there’s more. My almost neighbour’s surname rings a bell and I realise that our boys went to school together – and we never really met. Our paths may have crossed at some school function, but I find out later that, like me, she didn’t run with the private school mother pack. Gosh. There was a kindred spirit close by all along and I never saw her.
Over dinner my son remembers that my newfound friend told him to say ‘thank you’ from her. ‘What do you mean?’ I said. That’s it, he says, she just said ‘tell your Mum, thank you’.
I leave the dish at her door the next day and email again to thank the lady with the beautiful name for her kindness and the deliciousness of her cooking. She emails back and I understand the reason for the ‘thank you.’ She tells me she hadn’t finished a book in the past 3 years but had just finished mine. She says it ‘resonated on many many levels,’ that like me she was ‘there but not there,’ went through ‘three years of hell,’ felt ‘totally lost and hollow.’
She thanks me for writing what she felt. She tells me she is recovered now and looking forward. I read her words and I weep and I smile. I weep for all the lost and lonely souls too afraid, or simply not able, to speak up and speak out. And I smile because I wrote a book that made a difference, however small, to someone’s day.
Wow wow and triple wow. There but for the grace of God go all of us. There went I. And there went the lady with the beautiful name. But here I am and here she is, and here we will stay. Merry Christmas.
If you enjoyed this tale and want to read more I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch through this website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org