This is a bit of a cheat, really. I thought I’d share some of the thoughts and feelings I had when my first book, “Rewind”, was published in 2006.
I can remember arriving home after a hard day at the chalk-face to find:
- a page from the South Wales Argus, sello-taped to my front door, with my photo on it
- a living-room filled with family and friends, all staring expectantly at a parcel which had been placed on the floor in front of the fire-place
The parcel contained twelve complimentary copies of “Rewind”, a novel for children, written by little old moi. After making myself a cup of coffee, and milking the suspense for all it was worth, I opened the parcel, fanned out the books and posed like a celeb for photographs. Then hysteria took over as I proceeded to jump up and down and dance around with excitement.
The next day in work (I’m a primary school teacher in Bettws, Newport), I was accosted by nearly every child in my class individually, each one wanting to show me my photograph in the Argus. The staff bought me a bottle of champagne and a cake from Asda with my new front cover iced on the top of it.
Then we had a book launch in the school hall. Viv Sayer, my editor, came along. I had the opportunity to do an Oscar-style speech, thanking my mum, my wife, my children, my ex-headteacher and anyone else who knew me. My mum was glowing with pride. I owe her so much. She taught me the basics of reading and writing before I started school. Viv said nice things about the book to the assembled throng and then announced, out-of-the-blue, that Gomer had decided to publish my second book, “The Cube”, later that same year. My cup was over-runneth-ing, big time! And, to top it all, I sold approximately 200 books at the launch.
The school had only recently invited Daniel Morden in. There were posters of him all over the school. But now it was my turn. My face on the posters. Me signing and selling books.
I took home from the launch a framed poster of the front cover of “Rewind”, which now resides in our downstairs loo. “The Cube” is in my bedroom and “Dear Mr Author” is in the dining room. As you can see, none of this has being published lark has gone to my head!
For a few weeks after “Rewind” was published, I developed the strange habit of walking around with a copy of the book in my jacket pocket, just in case I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for a while. I could say, casually, “Oh, by the way, did you know I’ve just had a book published?”, before shoving it in front of his or her face.
We had a school inspection not long after “Rewind” was published and I can remember commenting to one of my colleagues over coffee that if any of the inspectors dared to criticise my teaching, I’d say something along the lines of, “Ah, teaching’s just a sideline for me.”
I wrote a letter to my favourite teacher from High School, Mrs Kreuser, thanking her for being such an inspiration, but secretly fishing for praise. I hadn’t seen her for 26 years and I didn’t think she’d remember me – I was quiet and shy in school – but, impressively, she did. I will always treasure the letter she wrote in response.
I e-mailed old friends from school, quite a few of whom had gone on to great things (corporate lawyer, orthopaedic surgeon, professor of ophthalmology). I suppose part of me was crying out to them, “Look, I’ve achieved something too!” I’m fully aware of how sad this may sound. In any case, I had actually already achieved a lot (good husband and father, respected teacher). I have, however, always suffered from a lack of self-confidence. Writing books and then enjoying the experience of having them published has made me feel special, helped me walk a little taller.
Ideally, I’d like to be able to write full-time. I’ve often fantasized about being able to wake up when my body actually tells me to wake up, spending the day at my computer, cup of coffee (or glass of wine) in hand, typing merrily away, creating my next “masterpiece”, without having to worry about planning lessons, marking books or what kind of mood Rhys or Danny might be in tomorrow.
“Rewind” has as its themes feeling sorry for yourself won’t solve anything, you only get back what you put in, everyone has potential, everyone deserves a second chance. All of these are, in some way, true of me. I’ve now been rewarded beyond words (not financially I hasten to add) for something that I’ve worked really hard at and have been prepared to persevere with, through thick and thin. I’ve been given a second chance, possibly even a second career. I feel re-energised, re-juvenated and re-wound.