I don't feel like an author.
I'm not a novelist, which I always thought was the ultimate requirement to be regarded as a 'real' writer.
Oh I've tried.
Every short story I've ever written has been published, which is something I'm proud of. Especially as there have been quite a few. The problem is that inspiration doesn't strike regularly enough for me to take it up as a day job, though it's a fun, paying hobby to have.
Once, whilst working on a magazine as a commissioning editor (overseas), one of my job requirements was to write the 'reader's secret confessions' whenever the real ones weren't interesting enough. Which was quite often. More fiction.
And I've started several novels, which I've never felt brave enough to show anyone. Or to finish.
So I don't feel like an author.
Yes, it's true that many years ago, on commission, I wrote a guidebook to Queensland, which was basically crap. (The fact that I was given three days in which to write it, certainly didn't help.)
And then my lovely agent Selwa Anthony got me a deal for my first real book, Happily Ever Parted (Surviving Separation and Divorce), which was published by New Holland Australia in 1996.
I had three months to write that one, though I managed to extend that to five.
Most of it was written in the middle of the night, after a day of work and kid-wrangling. I'd go to sleep when I was tired, wake when my youngest needed a feed, and write until about 5 am. Then I'd fall into bed for about half an hour before one of the kids woke me.
It's no surprise that by the time the proofs came through, I came down with a massive dose of pneumonia. I seriously blame the lack of sleep, along with relentless parenting, working and writing. I was exhausted!
My then-husband was working out of town, as he often was, and I was so sick I'd sleep between school and childcare drop-off.
Eventually, my ageing parents travelled five hours to help me, and I spent each day in bed, proofs on my lap, editing and sleeping. In-between occasional cups of tea and soup.
Finally, proofs done, I slowly recovered. Just in time for the book's launch and the endless round of publicity, when laryngitis and a tickly cough made radio and television interviews that extra bit embarrassing.
I'm not particularly proud of my first real book.
I'd longed to write it for a very long time, but I wanted it to be perfect. But my editor - who was very good and very experienced - eventually said: "Bronnie it's fine. You've got to stop somewhere, or it will never make it onto the shelves."
And she was right.
The book did moderately well for a first attempt. And importantly, it finally gave me the title 'author' which I was really quite chuffed about.
However, because I've failed to follow up with another book - though I am working on several, fiction and non-fiction - I regularly forget all about it.
And then I'll get an email from a reader whose life I have touched, a request for an interview, or stumble across a copy of Happily Ever Parted, alive and well on book shelves and not in the bargain basement bin. And I experience that strange mixture of embarassment and pride that comes with being an author. For me at least!
A couple of months ago, I was thrilled to be asked by the Brisbane City Council to speak at the Sunnybank Hills Library about Happily Ever Parted.
Thrilled, and a little bit nervous, but happy all the same. That years after my book came out, people are still reading it and wanting to talk to me about it.
I am soooo sympathetic to anyone going through a divorce. My first, and that was amicable, was traumatic enough; and many followers will know I am going through a second. The sudden end of this second marriage broke my heart, kicked me in the guts, and sent me into a mental health hospital, suffering from a major depressive disorder. (Read Nervous Breakdown).
For those who are interested, I'm pretty much following the advice I give in the book, but even as a so-called expert, divorce still sucks. Big Time!
So I'll be happy to rock up at Sunnybank Hills Library at 10 am on July the 7 to talk about my book, writing, and any other darn thing you'd like to hear about.
The library is kindly putting on morning tea after the chat, but you must RSVP for catering on 07 3407 0571.
Please come along, so I don't feel like a complete loser if no one turns up!
And if you need a shoulder to cry on, I'll bring along the tissues!