I’m sitting in front of 40 or so people talking about old, bobbly pants. Speaking in public isn’t up there amongst my favourite things to do and the fact the subject is pants doesn’t spare my blushes. But at least the pants aren’t mine, I think, plunging onto the next bit, which is mercifully about pinstriped trousers.
The pants belong to Polly, someone I made up. I’m at the launch of Inspirations / Awen, an anthology of short stories and poems compiled by the library service in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and my entry has made it onto p.130. Getting published, as I’ve discovered in the past, is pretty subjective. The Mulberry Coat is one of two stories I wrote a little while ago when I was doing an online creative writing course – not very successfully, obviously, as the tutor’s emails kept addressing me as Diane. Anyway, The Mulberry Coat got top marks whilst the second, a story called Reunion, was deemed not to work (the tutor’s reasoning was that there were no clues leading to the surprise ending. This was because I quite wanted to keep it a surprise). I submitted both to an anthology based on clothes or, rather, women’s relationship with them and, of course, the one that didn’t work was instantly selected whilst The Mulberry Coat was discarded quicker than a bagful of unloved Christmas jumpers.
Undeterred by rejection (once I’d stopped sobbing and opened the curtains again), I revised and re-worked it and hacked a few paragraphs off the word count. And now The Mulberry Coat has made it to somewhere near the back of a new anthology with a shiny cover and I’m reading aloud about Polly’s pants to the other authors and some people who’ve popped in for the free tea and biscuits at the back. For someone who doesn’t like standing up at the front and chatting away, it seems to becoming a regular thing. In true two-buses-come-along-at-once fashion, I recently found out that another story is to be published next month following a competition by Cardiff Women’s Aid, and I’ll be reading an excerpt at that launch as well. No pants in that one so, much as I hate public speaking, it’ll all be fine. Oh, until I get to the bit about Gina’s enormous cleavage. But that, quite literally, is another story.