My last magazine story – A Love Like This – is true. Though I called it The Love Seat.
It all happened much longer ago than five years. The two separate episodes, with two different partners, were twenty-five and ten years ago. Not the stuff magazine stories are made of, I thought.
As I walked, for the second time, into the seaside town, Shanklin in the Isle of Wight in fact, I held my breath, never believing that the restaurant could still be there.
Then, as it indeed came into view, I wondered if the cosy nook were there too. Hardly dared hope. But both were exactly the same.
I cannot remember when I first wanted to write about it. But I do know that, for the last few years, I have been trying to make it into a poem. Only very recently did I realise that it would be better told as a story.
I have not read it all as it appears in the magazine. Sometimes I do not read my published work at all.
Fear of typos. Fear what changes they have made. (In fact, on the second visit to that seaside town, we did not go in to the restaurant; the editor of the magazine version created this. But it was, yet again, a Mr Wrong.)
I don’t know what it is, this fear of seeing your work in print. I found it hard to listen to a recording of my talk on the radio. Written by me. Read by me. My very first published work. Distant relatives, whom we visited around that time, had recorded it. But I doubt they still have it. I cannot imagine what they recorded it on, back in those dim and distant days.
Now, not all readers will have heard of the works of W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. They are called operettas and there are no other works like them. They are not grand opera and nor are they musicals. Sullivan wrote the music and Gilbert the words.
At the opening of a new operetta, Sullivan obviously had to be there as he was conducting the orchestra. It has been shown that he loved it and was in his glory.
In his element, as my mother would say.
Gilbert went to the pub. He may have walked the streets and gone from pub to pub.
Having written it – dreamed it up – and now to present it to the public! Of course it would have been rehearsed, but musicians and actors and singers take the material and get on with it. It is a job. Your job. No judgment. How many singers of The Messiah are believers of the Bible Story?
I think of myself, too nervous to turn the page. Of Gilbert walking to the pub as the overture strikes up and his singers wait in the wings.
Is it kind of embarrassing to have your work out there….even though that is what you want?
Inner shaking at yourself being exposed?
Your baby? What you have produced?
Wondering what people will think?
But I am not sure for me it is also a fear of what changes will have been made.
That it is not me. Not what I meant.
That, as in a bad dream, I spat out ‘all the butt ends of my days and ways,’ as T.S. Eliot writes, and they have jumbled up my words.
And, as perhaps we all fear, writers and non writers alike –
I am never really heard.
Never really known.
So never really am.
There is a story in Reasons called Baby Doll. Now, I set out to write about power-shifts, as that is a subject that interests me. I did write that. The beginning I knew, but it was exciting to see how the story took off and the characters acted on their own.
But what did come out of this story is that as a child, I felt invisible.
ENDORSEMENTS for NEVERLAND:
‘A born writer.’
‘Your poor, plump, odd-girl-out, is unbearably true to life.’
Dame Jacqueline Wilson
‘It would be enough for me to have written it.’
Lucina della Rocca
Member of the National Society of Painters, Sculptors, and Print makers
‘A period piece of social realism.’
‘Should be compulsory reading for everyone.’
‘The more I read, the more engrossed I became.’
Pamela Pickton‘s novel Neverland is on sale on amazon now, and on all good ebook websites, and read about her travails and worldly challenges in her Zitebooks collection of short stories, Reasons, which is also available to download from Amazon.