Yes, I finished writing my talk in time. On Saturday, with my pulse racing, my husband drove me over to the Social Club in Brentwood where I was to speak to a writing group about my journey to publication. With my whole body shaking I managed to just about breathe life into my talk, and get my points across in a chatty, conversationalist way. I messed a few things up, and mispronounced a few words, but overall I was pleased with myself and how well the talk was received by the audience.

I wanted to look at the audience all the time but needed to focus on what I had written, otherwise, my brain would have emptied out and I would have lost the power of speech. I highlighted a few sentences in bold to remind myself to address the audience directly with some amusing anecdote or some point to help me keep my contact with them.

Thank you, Dawn for recording a tiny part of my talk.

Below is part of my talk, before the event in the library when I was thirteen, and met the library cat.

Every writer’s journey is unique, and mine was no exception. I started writing to prove to myself that anything is possible. Allow me to take you on a spot of time travelling. I promise you I’ll keep it short.

Imagine being five years old. It’s 1963. You’re with your mother walking into a brand-new library. The space was light, airy, and magical, with rows of new books sitting on wooden shelves. You’re from a poor family. Your father works as a master miller, your mother a housewife, with four young children. You all living in a cramped little cottage, a dark place with wooden floors and rugs.

Today is a special day. You have your mother’s undivided attention, which is rare. The library smells fresh. You’re excited at the thought of being given the opportunity to take as many books as you want as new things are a luxury to you. You eagerly run towards the children’s book section, drop down to your knees, and carefully select some of the brightest and most beautiful covers.

You hug them tightly to your chest and turn to your mother, she’s smiling. You are happy. A woman comes over and speaks to your mother. Your mother is no longer smiling. A look you recognise has replaced it. A frown that’s closely followed by anger.  

The woman tells her, “You need to fill a form out before your daughter can take the books.”

Your mother lowers her eyes to you, and you’re ready for what she is about to say. “Put the books back.” Your heart sinks, but you don’t question her. You run back to the shelves and return the books. Your mother takes your arm and drags you from the library. You’re sad, but you don’t cry.

I learnt two crucial lessons that day in the library: The meaning of disappointment and the importance of being able to write.

Thank you for dropping by and leaving a comment.

Hope to see you again soon.

13 Comments

  1. Congratulations on a job well done, Paula. I know how much you were concerned about this talk. It looks like the time and effort you put into it paid off in spades!! Way to go!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It will get easier the more you do it Paula, but I’m proud of you for taking that first very scary big step. Your little excerpt at the end there about the library really got to me. You have such a way of making your stories relatable, it’s something I really like about your work.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure you did a wonderful job. I liked the part of it you shared with us. I find the more you do these things, the easier it gets. Well done!

    Like

    1. Thank you so much, Mohamed. It was a difficult call for me. I’ve been pushing myself hard for make years to step outside my comfort zone. Covid and lockdowns took away my confidence. Having this opportunity has helped me hugely. You would think the older we get the easier it becomes, but it doesn’t. I’m ready for the Scottish Book Festival in September now. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations, Paula! What happened at the library when you were a child is heartbreaking, but you haven’t let a rocky book-beginning stop you!

    Like

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