|Posted on March 16, 2011 at 10:56 AM|
“As every bud of life appears I can relinquish all my fears, the welcome sight of blossom bloom casts aside all my gloom”
Spring has to be my favourite time of year; the dark cloud of winter slowly evaporates, lighter nights emerge and a renewed sense of optimism for the future is born. Winter is a challenging time for many, but living with a debilitating illness under the dark cloud of shorter days, adverse weather conditions, exacerbated symptoms and isolation, is a trial to say the least!
At the end of last summer I set myself a goal; one which would keep me focused through the long, challenging, arduous months. Writing is my passion, something I can do from the comfort of my bed or sat in my dressing gown at the dining room table. It’s undoubtedly cathartic and has helped me through some incredibly difficult times.
I remember having a conversation with my hairdresser of twenty three years; I emphasise twenty three years… The longest relationship I’ve ever had with a man! I was eager to tell him about my plan to publish a book, it seemed nothing more than a dream back then. I was fuelled with inspiration, I’d stumbled across an innovative way of telling my story through verse. Ralph said, “Do it Jane, believe in yourself, stick a post it note on your fridge with a date on, a date to work towards”
… And, so I did!
I decided I would write my book and launch it with a Spring theme. Spring being a poignant time of year and cherry blossom particularly symbolic, having planted a tree in the garden following my breast cancer diagnosis in 1997.
I therefore spent the winter months, crafting poems, as and when I was inspired; often waking in the early hours with verse in my head. I wrote ‘The Gift Of Life’ on my birthday in a local coffee shop. I was filled with melancholy that day, but sitting alone drinking coffee and eating cake I realised: ME! of all people should embrace the life I have; for I survived, I beat cancer, I therefore “Have no right to sit and weep”
‘Blossom Bloom’ another of my poems describes exactly how I feel at this time of year. The elegant book jacket, designed by my son captures perfectly the symbolism of cherry blossom. ‘Sanctuary’ is a depiction of what writing means to me and is the opening poem in my collection.
It wasn’t easy finding a publisher who would endorse my work and put their name to producing my first collection. Venturing into the world of publishing is daunting, yet I’m so very lucky to have found Helen Hart of Silverwood Books. Helen has guided me through the process with expert ease, and ahead of schedule published my first book ‘Raw Emotion’ in early February.
On 5th March I held my official launch. WHSmith store in Accrington hosted an author signing event and ordered a stock of my book! What a surreal day that proved to be. It began with a live interview on BBC Radio Lancashire. I’d been invited into the studio very early in the morning, sadly I had to decline the invitation as being a ‘Lupie’ I would have burnt out by lunchtime. I needed to retain all energy for the launch at 1pm. Not easily deterred, radio Lancashire decided they could interview me, LIVE on the telephone. GULP! The things I do in my dressing gown… Yes! you’ve guessed; I was sitting at my dining room table, in my pj’s sweating profusely, teeth trembling when I got the call from the producer:
“Good morning Jane, how are you? Great ok, there’ll be a thirty second intro then you’re on”
All I can say is “Oh My God!” It was unnerving talking to the north west especially whilst still in my pj’s! However, I’m glad I felt the fear but did it anyway. A number of people turned up at WHSmith having heard me on the radio, and not only that, ALL the books were sold!
For two days following, I was fit for nothing coming back down to earth with a tremendous bump. My body ached, and once again I was filled with insatiable exhaustion; as ‘explanation it does defy’ Lupus, SO hard to live with!
Waterstone’s Bolton hosted an author signing event last Saturday the 12th, just one week after the first. Again it was successful selling 80% of ordered stock, which I believe was a good result from an ‘unknown author’ But goodness, I can’t do this every week! Between both events I was fit to leave the house just once!
The next signing event is booked for the 2nd April at WHSmith in Clitheroe, which allows plenty of time to recover. If any of you are nearby that day, please drop in and say hello.
I should be at the hospital this afternoon to see the Rheumatologist. But apparently even Rheumatologists get sick, so it’s been cancelled! Although I needed an injection I’m actually quite relieved… I’m not sure how I’d have summoned the energy to drive there, and back today! Instead I’ve taken the opportunity to update my blog, once again from the comfort of my bed.
April will see the one year anniversary of Shared Experiences. Unbelievably it will be a whole year since I created the website; another year gone, almost in the blink of an eye! At least I can look back at the last year and feel proud of my achievement; having made the best of a complicated set of compounding circumstances.
I’m now working on new ideas and maybe even a second collection. The arrival of Spring really will “cast aside all my gloom” every year when the flowers bloom I say... “Thank you God” and realise, despite everything, I really am one lucky lady!