Boy what a week. It’s one where I’ve primarily been thinking about photographs. Sad, I know. Shallow – definitely. I cannot but apologise. You see, I can’t bear to have my photo taken. I really can’t because at heart, I think I may be a tad shy. It’s one of those moments where a hundred and one things run through your head. Wrinkles. Double chin. Sagging jaw. Frizzy hair (or in this case, dyed hair and too blooming dark! Doh). Considerable dark eye circles. People seeing you in print. There’s nowhere to hide, and you can say what you want about me, but you can’t say I don’t like to bury my head in the sand. It’s a pity really, because today I’m having my photo taken and it isn’t for my either a) stony face for passport or b) daft face for kid’s party. Nope. I’m having my photo taken for a new writing job.
Yup, from 22nd September I’ll be in the local Gloucestershire Citizen, Echo and Stroud Life newspapers with my new weekly column. I know! How did that one happen? It’s all been a while since I first had the meeting with the Editor, but since then things have moved on. And it does make me feel a bit sick. ‘Will you be famous?’ asks my youngest. My husband spits his drink out. I glare at him then turn to my daughter. ‘No, sweetie,’ I say. ‘Mum’s not going to be famous.’ She sighs. ‘Didn’t think so. You have to be in the Olympics and Paralympics for that.’ Well, either way, that’s me told. Quite right, too.
The first column is already written and with the Editor. It’s always a nerve wracking moment when the first piece is sent off for approval. It’s like waiting to find out your exam results, except I’m not 16 anymore. Or at school. I cannot tell you how many people the draft of the column has been through before it finally got to the editor. Being a somewhat self-critical writer, I thought it best to seek opinion. Step forward family and friends. They have read, re-read and re-re-re read the first piece until, I sadly suspect, they could recount it in their sleep. And I haven’t even paid them! What it has done for me though is to reassure me that it’s hitting the mark. Aside from the essential proofreading (which, you know by now, I suck at), they’ve looked at the content. The Editor, Ian Mean, wanted a human angle. ‘Make it human,’ he said in our meeting. I imagined him smoking a cigar and wearing a trilby. I nodded.
Back at home, I wasn’t sure what he meant. It’s been decided that the column will have a female slant and focus on the fact I am a woman (why does it feel weird calling myself that…?), a parent/mum and, um, well, me. That’s when the penny dropped. The human bit, making it human. It means connecting with others. Being honest about who you are, flaws and all so when people will read it they will sit there, nod and say, ‘yeah, me, too’. Or not. What I do know for certain is that I love writing it already. I am nervous, without a doubt. I have three months probationary on it, which is when I have to work hard, make it good. I don’t know what people will say about it. I certainly have no idea about what is going to happen next once it goes live, but I’m going to gulp and see. In the whole scope of the world, it’s a little thing. No war for me to handle, no flood or famine.
The column will be appearing in the new, re-done, glossy weekend magazine supplement and, bizarrely, the first re-launched edition is out on 22ndSepetmber – the same day my mum arrives to visit. She is very excited. ‘I can get a copy to show everyone!’ she yelps. I nod. I am becoming good at nodding.
In the meantime, life is ticking on. I am having an utter nightmare with the edit of my second novel – it’s like trudging through mud at the moment. I will get there with it; I just have to be patient. Wish I was a patient woman (nope. Still weird.) The Gazette wants to keep me on as their weekly columnist and I had a great chat with the Editor, Skip, the other day. I’m really enjoying writing for them – and people where I live come up and talk to me about what I’ve written every week. That’s odd to get used to, but I’m really chuffed the column sparked something.
I grab the paper and my daughter comes up to me. ‘Are you famous from the Gazette, mum?’ she asks. I pick a fleck of muck from her hair. ‘No sweetie.’ She pauses. Then says, ‘Good. That means I can be.’ I smile as she runs off. If she wants to be famous, she can have her photo taken as well. I can’t stand having my photo taken. I need some more hair dye. Goddammit.
**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week it’s all about wind farms and why they are beautiful not a blot**