Saturday 28 November 2015

A Week in Publication

Monday morning started on Sunday night, just as a reminder if I needed one that writers can often be found at their PC at midnight and, admittedly, relishing it. Although nothing as exciting as writing for me, I was catching up on admin from the day job.

No matter. My late night typing meant that I would watch the calendar flick from Sunday 22nd to Monday 23rd November, the day of Tea & Chemo's publication, and witness the Amazon Page flip from 'pre-order' to, Yes! Absolutely! Buy it now!

At one minute past midnight I clicked the link. I shrugged my shoulders: no change. Of course not. The day doesn't really start at 12.01 but at 9am. I'd check again in the real morning. I did. Having already checked at 12.30, and every few minutes thereafter, you know, just to be sure, until I finally wandered off to bed.
The next morning, publication day morning, I had a quick hospital appointment. It was no more cancer related than those pesky, potentially life-saving drugs giving me annoying side effects. Nonetheless, the irony of being back in hospital on my publication day wasn't lost on me.
And it transpired that I was to spend slightly longer there than anticipated. As I waited to be called, I heard the fairly earnest voice of a doctor directing a patient to, 'Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth, that's it, well done.' I didn't like it. Nobody likes to hear other people unwell. But, ever the diligent writer, I forced myself to focus on tomorrow's talk which needed editing down from about three days in length to the requisite ten minutes.
More voices sounded and all of a sudden, a nurse rushed past, picked up the phone and called for the registrar to come immediately to the unit. I was worried for the patient now and also felt that I shouldn't be there, that I was intruding as the voices were just on the other side of a curtain.
Shuffling further back in my seat, I continued with my scribbles as inconspicuously as possible. And it was useful having no mobile or Wi-Fi signal at the hospital so that my page on Amazon had a break from my clicking for news.
A nurse explained that my appointment would be delayed. Of course. The other woman was much more in need of the staff than I was and besides, I was doing quite well with the rampant deletion of my drivel.
The same nurse ran past again. This time she called for the Crash Team. Now I was really worried for the patient. Moreover, other people arriving for appointments were being turned away. A doctor came to speak to me, asked if I wouldn't mind going to get a coffee and coming back in half an hour. Mind?  I took the stairs two at a time.
Ninety minutes after my appointment slot, I returned to the unit to the altogether softer sound of the same doctor's voice saying to the patient that if she ever came back to the unit, would she call first so that he could make sure he was on holiday, and with this I suspected the situation had taken a less sinister turn. The lady, excruciatingly apologetic, was discharged having recovered from her panic attack whilst having a cup of tea after her appointment.
I left the hospital two hours later than intended, happy I wasn't prone to panic attacks and slightly more confident that my talk might be over before tomorrow's bedtime.
My dentist's appointment followed suit, taking forty minutes instead of ten because my sparkly new mouth guard to stop me grinding my teeth at night (it's a long story) didn’t fit correctly and needed some re-moulding. By this time I was due to pick up my car from the garage. I'd taken it in for a new exhaust and it had emerged with a brand new set of ball bearings and four new tyres instead. Wholly necessary but more expensive. And the half an hour walk back to the garage was looking particularly uninviting through the pouring icicles.
Several times during the day I'd looked down at myself from above: oh, the glamorous lifestyle of a freshly published writer! And Tea & Chemo was still only showing as available to 'pre-order'.
Then came Monday evening.
Friends had organised a celebration in my local pub. With these people, in that pub, with the Tea & Chemo bunting, the Tea & Chemo cake and biscuits, my box of books (and people buying them) the cards and presents and excitement and abject giddiness, right there, in that moment, all the late night, early morning typing and the slap in the face rejections, were worth it.
Tuesday and D Day for the ten minute talk I mentioned. My brief was to inspire two hundred 14 and 15 year old students and their parents with my story of having a dream and going for it. Except these students were all award winners and I couldn’t help thinking that really, they should have been talking to me about hard work and achievement. The best, and only award I remember getting at school was for hockey: my half colours, note, not even the full ones…
It would be an accurate account to say I did a ridiculous amount of preparation for this talk. Engage a hundred teenagers for ten minutes, you say? The hours spent were directly proportionate to my fear. 'It's ok,' somebody consoled a few panicky days before, 'They'll all be on their phones.' That was what I was worried about. Actually, I had a ball. Nobody was on their phone and everybody gave me the courtesy of listening and many thanked me afterwards. Teenagers constantly, and usually, buck the stereotype I find.
Let's fast forward over a couple of days when Amazon still wasn't admitting to Tea & Chemo being published. Meanwhile, I was cursing webmail for not sending any of my e-mails over the previous two days, tantalising me with the first line of every incoming message yet refusing to show me anything else. And let's forget the hours, (was it days? It felt like days) spent in phone calls to the EE helpline, in the vain hope of cajoling 21st century speed Wi-Fi into our house as opposed to the dribble reminiscent of the nineties. Let's gloss over these days because then it was Friday. Joy of joys, finally Tea & Chemo was leaving Amazon's grasp and so many wonderful people were posting on Facebook that their copies had arrived. 
And then this:
Tea & Chemo ranked 10th in Amazon for Health and Fitness? From this point forward, I've been doing what I vowed I wouldn't do: checking Tea & Chemo's ranking every few minutes.
You know, it hasn’t been all tiaras and red carpets but, after a frustrating labour, Tea & Chemo has made it out into the world and yes, it feels every bit as sweet as I'd hoped.


  1. So thrilled for you, Jackie x

    1. Thanks Cathy :) And you, too. Our self-editing course did well for us both!

  2. Hi Jackie, I can just picture you at your desk waiting for time to pass - I had a similar experience as my daughter was born at two minutes to midnight and she's just worked out she will feel exactly the same on her birthday as the same before.
    Your day of highs and lows highlights just how much pain and joy go hand in hand in our lives, and so I say keep checking the ranking!!! Enjoy! Tamsin x

    1. Thanks Tamsin :) Two minutes to midnight? That's pretty cool. She was obviously meant to be born on that day and not a day later! My eldest was born at 9.27 am after the midwife had said around an hour earlier, 'I think we'll have this baby out by 9.30.' She clearly knew her stuff! Thanks for commenting - I'm off to check the ranking ;)


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