Thursday, 3 October 2013

Changing Shoes On The Train - A short escapade into the world of publishing

Empty fields scattered with autumnal colour give way to blocks of houses, winding rivers and industrial estates. Beyond Enfield the buildings thicken into close knit rows of streets, then flats and small green parks. Old pubs prop up corners and mothers push children under shedding sycamores. I hold a conker in my pocket from my walk to the station, shiny and new, like the freshly printed book that holds my story. I'm on my way to meet it for the first time.
The train picks up speed, my excitement mounts. We flash by another park. I wonder if the families on the swings will read my bedtime story. I hope so. I hope they read bedtime stories. The Sunday Times interviewed me about the book, pressing the angle that the middle class read them to their offspring out of guilt. I disagreed and my name didn't appear in the paper. Bedtime stories cross all cultures and classes, my father told me embellished anecdotes from his childhood, my mother read to me, I read to my children, their father made up stories. The form doesn't matter, the time and the story does.

Reaching Store Street in Bloomsbury my phone died, discommunicated from the world I sat alone in the pub with a vodka and tonic. I had nothing to read, no screen to interact with and no way of knowing if my other half had got my message, the only working public phone in three streets had swallowed all my change, unwisely I'd changed my shoes to heels and couldn't walk any further. Luckily he made it and we headed to the book launch. A function room on the second floor of an imposing building, walls lined with sofas and tables of nibbles, anxious strangers clutching glasses and waiting to make conversation. Other writers, nine of them, our stories brought to life with beautiful, emotive illustrations and held for ever in my most admitred of forms - the book. The Mumsnet Book of Bedtime Stories, piles of it, everywhere. I was tempted to scoop up many, but came away with one signed copy.

It was heartening to meet the other writers from all backgrounds and walks of life, all writing when we can between work and parenting, all excited by our first published story,hoping it will lead to more. Mumsnet is a powerful venture, it wasn't there when my children were little, but it provides much needed support for parents now. Walker Books are one of the few publishers who still have soul, their belief in the power of story and the beauty of the book is strong. Long may they publish.

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