When one is not a published writer but desperately wants to be, it feels like there’s a fabulous party going on – a party with writers and hors d’oeurves, musicians and champagne flutes and witty people – to which you are not invited. Instead, you are outside trying to convince security to let you in, or else gazing longingly at the serving staff as they bustle through the kitchen, because even though they aren’t actually guests, they’re still closer than you to the action. Such is the desire to enter the party that longing acts as a spur: we redouble our efforts and persist, no matter how difficult it can be.
On Thursday this week, I received an email from my publisher, the wonderful Paul Collins, asking if I had heard of Australian writer James Roy, and would I like to meet him. I replied in the affirmative on both counts, and was subsequently invited to attend a gathering last night. Unknowing of who else would be there or what the occasion was, I accepted.
It was, to say the least, a fantastic evening.
There were wonderful librarians. There were witty people. There was even someone I already knew from Twitter and whose blog I read. But most of all, there were writers: David Miller, who knows my friend Simon; George Ivanoff and Meredith Costain, with whom I went to the recent sales conference; Kirsty Murray, whose brilliant new novel, Vulture’s Gate, I bought and read in a single sitting just two days ago; Michael Pryor, whose Laws of Magic series I discovered and loved earlier this year; and Isobelle Carmody, who was lovely enough to complement the cover and blurb for my novel. It was at this point that I temporarily lost the ability to form coherent sentences, because I mean, really: Isobelle freakin’ Carmody liked my blurb. Babbling followed. But hopefully in a good way.
There was delicious food, good company, a roaring fire, plenty of champagne, friendly roaming animals and cake for James Roy’s birthday. I had a blast. I managed not to completely embarrass myself. (Except for the babbling. But I covered that.) Once all was said and done, I made my way home in two parts, chatting first to Angela (aka LiteraryMinded) on the train about writing and books and all things shiny, and then later catching a cab, where my silver-bearded 60s-rock-loving driver made me laugh with jokes about Keith Moon, Gene Pitney and Bill Bailey. The night could not have been better.
And as I slipped in quietly through the gate, I was struck by a sudden, beautiful thought. I’ve finally breached the kitchen. I’m in the party. And yes: there are hors d’oeurves.