Last week my husband and I went to Brixton Academy to watch 90s band Ride perform their fabulous album Nowhere (I realise that if you’re not an aged indie kid this will mean nothing to you, but bear with me – I do have a point).
I spent a lot of my youth watching bands at Brixton Academy, and when I was there last week I kept thinking about my 16-year-old self. I could almost see her, pogo-ing round the crowd in a stretchy black skirt, band t-shirt, DMs and blonde pigtails (that’s a teenage me in the photo above, minus the pigtails but proudly wearing my sparkly Suede t-shirt!). And I wondered what she’d think of me now, 25 years older and not necessarily wiser.
She’d definitely be impressed that I’m still going to gigs, even if I like sitting down now rather than being right at the front in the moshpit. She’d undoubtedly be amazing, astonished and very pleased that I’m married (boys did NOT like the 16-year-old me). She’d HATE the way I look and how I dress and she’d be confused to discover that while I am a journalist as she hoped, I’m not writing deeply inciteful analyses of UK politics (I was a very worthy teen – which, thinking about it, is possibly why boys didn’t like me), but spending my days watching EastEnders and Corrie and writing about them instead.
One thing she would be thrilled about, though, is my other writing life as an actual, genuine, published novelist. Reading has been the constant in my life and books have always been very important to me. When I was 16, I would definitely have wanted to be an author but I don’t think I’d ever have even admitted it to myself, let alone someone else. I would never even have considered it as an option.
Anyway, this is all a very long-winded way of saying this. Two years ago I was waiting for my first book, Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, to be published. Yesterday, my sixth book, A Step in Time, was released. These two years have been very, very hard work. Writing six books in 24 months and juggling writing with a job and a family isn’t easy. It’s not always been the way I expected, and it’s not been plain sailing ever. At times I’ve been despondent and disillusioned. At other times I’ve been giddy and excited. But though this year in particular has been so difficult that it’s almost broken me, I’m really glad I’ve stuck with it. I’m glad that I can say to the 16-year-old girl who still lives in my head, look – I’ve done it. I’ve written books that people read. And I hope she’s at least a little bit proud of me.