The joy of firsts

In a car, outside a hospital, on a water-logged autumn morning, I prepare to answer the questions sent to me for an interview in SNACK magazine. They arrived in my email inbox the evening before. Throughout the night I mulled my answers between snatches of sleep in the midst of a storm that exfoliated the root of our ancient camper van. The camper van and hospital belong to another story; the questions are about my book, the writing of it, my transplant experience and my relationship with Paul. This is my first interview as an author. My first chance to talk about my writing. With a wave to the parking attendant (I’m a regular), I slide into the passenger seat and pull out my laptop to begin.

SNACK magazine cover

Apprehension stalls my first sentence. Start, delete. Start, delete. I know I’m over-thinking. It’s not like I don’t know the answers: I wrote the book and what’s more, I lived the experience. It’s my story. Breathe. Start again. This time I let go and write as I would talk. And guess what, it’s fun.

Since my transplant I’ve told and retold my story so many times I’ve lost count. Mostly it’s to friends, family, work mates. Occasionally it’s to the press or other media. I’ve even performed parts of it, as recounted in an earlier blog. What I haven’t done much of is talked about my writing. About what or who inspires me. How it feels to reveal details of my experience, my relationship, on the page. To do so was exhilarating. Turns out I had a lot to say. Too much. No matter, I could save the overspill of words for a podcast I’d been invited to take part in a few days, this time for the Scots Whay Hae!, a website dedicated to Scottish culture.

For the podcast it’s an evening and it’s with Paul, in our living room, via Zoom. It’s also the same interviewer, Alistair Braidwood. I’m familiar with SWH! and have listened to several previous podcasts. So why the frizzle of nerves? The sensation of standing on the banks of a fast flowing river? I’ve checked to make sure I haven’t spilled anything on my shirt and my hair isn’t sticking up, yet (private joke for a few of my university friends). Inside I know why. It’s the fear of jumbling my words in the school play, of dropping the ball at third base of rounders, of tripping over at sports day, of forgetting my steps at the end of year dance show. The potential to misspeak or dry up completely.

Scots Whay Hae! website

The good news is, it was, as you’ve probably guessed, fine. More than, in fact. As far as I’m aware, I didn’t speak out of turn or inappropriately, laugh too loudly (well perhaps a little but it’s my natural laugh) or offend anyone. In fact, as with the written interview, after a wobbly start, I enjoyed the whole experience. It helps that Alistair was warm and encouraging, the questions were interesting, and Paul was there to take the slack, or surreptitiously poke me to remind me to slow the pace.

And as if that weren’t enough firsts, I also received feedback from three readers with no connection to my story. And they loved the book. One said it was the best book she’d read all year, another talked about how it resonated with her emotionally, the last about how she had been unable to put it down. What a remarkable privilege to write something and have it read and enjoyed by others.

These feelings, all of them, I hope they never go away.

And if you’re interested, below are the links to the SWH! podcast and the interview in SNACK magazine.

Scots Whay Hae! https://scotswhayhae.com

SNACK magazine https://snackmag.co.uk/read-this-months-magazine

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