I received the email in February. The day was cold and damp and had started badly. En route to Bristol for an appointment with work I felt the distinctive, stomach hollowing wobble and pull on the steering wheel of my car that indicates trouble of the tyre variety. A puncture to the rear wheel on the passenger side.
I was going to be late.
I was going to get wet.
I was going to get oil on my hands.
And probably my trousers and shirt.
There was also the not insignificant matter of the cost to repair the loathsome circle of rubber.
Now, it is probably fair to say that my skills in the field of tyre changing are such that I won’t be troubling the folk at McLaren for a job in the pit lane any time in the near future. I waged war with the nuts on the wheel, growing ever nearer the moment I became a tree thrashing Basil Fawlty while the rain fell with a monotonous soaking drizzle (is there any worse kind of rain than drizzle?). It was barely nine o’clock in the morning and already shaping up to be the worst day of the year thus far.
Of course, I eventually won the battle with my tyre – albeit at great cost to my cleanliness and sense of manly competence – and made my belated way to the appointment before heading back across the Severn Bridge and a reluctant visit to the tyre repair shop whereupon I heard the dreaded noise.
The sucking of air through teeth that indicates the tyre is a goner and utterly un-repairable. As Homer Simpson so elegantly puts it: D’oh!
Retreating to the Greggs around the corner for an emergency pasty I thumbed over my Iphone, glancing in on Facebook, noting how wonderful the day seemed to be shaping up for many of my friends, before checking my emails. It was the usual stuff: offers from hotels I may have once stayed in, Amazon letting me know of some MUST READS, BT letting me know my bill is ready. And one small little email from Tomos Owen with the title Nu 2. I’d submitted a story – Five Past Twelve – to Nu (of Parthian Books) for their anthology some months earlier so I opened up to have a read, preparing myself to add another rejection note to the digital pile.
They liked it. Somebody out there liked my story to the extent that they wanted to put it into their anthology. I’d love to tell you that it stopped raining at that point and a little ray of sunshine broke through the clouds and shone upon me. Alas, that was not so.
Although it didn’t half make the pasty taste nicer.
Any aspiring writer who says they don’t get a tingle of joy at news that their work is to be published is, I am certain, being sheepishly economical with the truth. It’s a wonderful feeling; the reason we writers persist with pushing our fingers against the keyboards day after day.
Writers are parents, the stories their offspring. We nurture them and love them and once they are fully grown we, often with heart-wrenching difficulty and reluctance, send them out into the big wide world, eager that they fend for themselves, desperate for them to succeed.
I make no apology for displaying happiness that my story is to be featured in NU 2: Memorable Firsts. Happiness that someone has been kind enough to think it merits inclusion and happiness that it will feature alongside writers of immense talent. Happiness that I can proclaim to be a published writer.
Nu 2: Memorable Firsts is published through Parthian Books and available to order now. It will be launched officially on July 13th at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. If you can make it, do come along.