The idea of writing a book has always being there on a kind of dynamic bucket list. It has sat alongside many other silly ideas such as learning a new language, learning to play a musical instrument and walking the great wall of china. I doubt that most of the list will become a reality, but the idea of actually writing a book began to take shape when I stopped fostering and went through my old notes.
Whilst fostering for the local authority we were encouraged to keep diaries, make notes in the “blue books” [ a record of daily events which travelled from place to place with the child] and fill in numerous forms during each child’s stay. I also came across all the payslips, in a neat ordered bundle, so that I had the names and dates of each child we had cared for.
I also kept various notebooks about the funny things the children said. I’d always intended to do this with my own girls, but never quite found the time to do so. It was these notebooks which drew my attention, 5 years ago, and I decided to reproduce the notes so that I had a record of all the times that we had laughed at the funny incidents. I wanted to preserve the memories for myself and also for my daughters who may ask about the many fostered children later on in life.
I began to write about our first foster child and weave the story together to make it more interesting. Soon after I forgot all about the notes because our older daughter, Lexi, became pregnant and subsequently we had 2 beautiful grand-daughters and a big wedding, all in the space of 3 years. I settled into the life of being a grandma, which I loved, and the notes were forgotten.
Last summer however in May 2018, I fled to our caravan in Anglesey, following a big row with Peter, my husband. I was upset and wanted to be alone to lick my wounds. I took with me my notebooks, thinking that I might take the time to look through them again.
As you may remember it was a hot and sunny summer and I spent lazy days gazing out at the sea and sand and clearing my mind. It’s amazing how the changing conditions can change your mood. On days when the sea was calm it looked turquoise and tranquil, and the sand was golden and smooth. I imagined a quiet orchestra playing gentle music in the background, enabling gentle thoughts and feelings to flow from my mind and onto the page.
On the days when the sea was rough and the waves were crashing and boiling I felt more anger and the desperate need to right the many wrongs that I had encountered. The sound track in my mind was crashing cymbals and percussion instruments. I began to write furiously as the different moods affected me. There are few distractions at the caravan, there is no dishwasher or washing machine to beep and announce that it’s finished it’s programme, no landline to ring incessantly with people selling me PPI or double glazing, and no one knocking at the front door to ask for directions or convert me to their religion. I am sitting here again today, glancing at the tide making its journey towards the shore, slowly concealing the rocks in the middle of the bay, which we call “crab and lobster”.
The stories began to take shape as I remembered the children and the various incidents of the previous 10 years. There was no coherent structure, I simply wrote thoughts as they came to me, and sorted them into sections, or chapters, later on.
In all I probably spent 5 months putting my thoughts together, but didn’t know what to do next, so the stories sat on my laptop, recorded but homeless. It was Christmas last year when my daughter’s boyfriend’s mum asked about the fostering we’d done and I mentioned my “stories”. She said that she knew a publisher who might look at it for me, I took his details and many weeks went by before I summoned the courage to contact him.
I finally sent Gareth some of the stories and he said that he was impressed and thought that people would be interested in reading them. I went across the country to meet with him and the idea of publishing a book became tangible. I feel like a bit of a cheat because I’m not a “real” author. My studies of ‘A’ level English were well over forty years ago, and I don’t know how I got to the threshold of publishing a real book. Let’s see what happens.