I can still remember where I was when I said it. Part prayer, part desperate plea, part hideous, crawling fear that I was wasting my life and would never be happy.
I can’t remember the time of year but I know the kitchen of the house where I stood was dark, even though it was daytime, and despite the windows. It was a grey, rainy, windy kind of day where you could either curl up with a good book or a long-haired stranger in a white shirt and riding boots could knock on your door, looking for Catherine. With my luck the stranger would show up just as I was hitting the best part of the story, and he’d have a horrible cold. Perhaps an axe. Maybe both.
I don’t know what motivated my actions, but I do remember walking in circles as I said, ‘I just want to write a book, I want to be a writer. I want to be a published author. I don’t care if I ever get married, I just want to write books.’
It appears some omnipotent force was listening that day, for my debut novel is about to go live on Amazon. I’m not sure that’s the correct way of saying so perhaps I should be clearer. An agent signed me in July 2020. My book was edited and rewritten and cried over, mostly by me but perhaps by my editor, too – I’m not sure. Last December, a London publisher made an offer. Two audio book companies bid for the rights. Contracts were signed. Germany bought the rights, and a translation is being worked on as I write this.
Still, I didn’t want to tell anyone. I waited for the email saying ‘Oops, we meant to sign a Martina McLennon who wrote a book called This Time Among Us’.
I started writing my second book. I worried about my third. But still, it didn’t feel real. Even as the jacket was designed. Even as the advance money started to roll in. I felt I was tempting fate when I wrote out my acknowledgments. But I kept going, because all I’ve ever wanted, since I started reading books at the school library years ago, was to be a writer.
Then, magical things started happening. People I’d lost touch with read about my deal in the trade papers and got in touch. Friends started asking when they could buy a copy. One heady day I was asked if I would be doing a signing in Canada.
So I sent out an email to all my friends who at one point had heard me say, head bowed, voice soft, that I wanted to write. Unless I’d had a glass of red wine in which case the strength of my voice and how I held my head varied.
And I was overwhelmed by the support and kindness and love shown me by the people I told.
I’m still not convinced that on November 11th the digital version will drop. In eight days I will know for sure. And I’m still not married.