I was at a book launch the weekend before last. It was for an anthology of Limerick LGBT writing and had the snappy title ‘It’s a queer city: all the same’. I contributed two pieces to this book.
I had every intention of writing about this last week, but when the Orlando attacks took place it seemed somewhat trivial and inappropriate to be faffing on about my book (notice how I describe it as ‘my’ book – despite there being about fifteen contributors – that’s ego for you right there, Murphy) when there are far more serious things going on in the world.
But as the Orlando massacre fades from the headlines (with the heartbreakingly predictable refusal by the US to even discuss banning or restricting the sale of weapons of mass destruction) I thought that I could do a little personal preening at my publishing progress.
The two pieces I wrote are called ‘Almost Home’ and ’40 and single’. The first one is pretty much non-fiction, and recounts my return to Limerick by way of the #HomeToVote for the marriage equality referendum. Apologies to the denizens of Buttevant for the disrespect shown to your town.
The second story is a fictionalised account of my own life, and where it is now – or was then. It is told in the first person, but exaggerated for dramatic effect.
I wrote both of these pieces very shortly after I arrived back in Ireland. The first I wrote in August, days after my return, when I read the call for submissions (after googling ‘things to do in Limerick’ – well if was my first time living in Limerick in almost twenty years). I submitted it. As I had not received a response a week before the deadline, I wrote and submitted a second piece – in case the internet had misplaced the original piece.
And a mere nine months later the book is in shops – well O’Mahony’s in Limerick anyway.
The launch was on a Sunday afternoon. So after my first ever driving test on Saturday morning I took the bus to Limerick so I would be all minty-fresh for the launch the next day. Arriving in Limerick, I took a casual stroll to O’Mahony’s Bookshop on O’Connell Street – purely to check out the recent publications wall. After all, Dublin has no bookshops, therefore I am obliged to wait until I travel to Limerick to check out what’s hot in the literary world.. And purely out of interest in local issues and history, did I find myself in the Limerick section of the shop.
Well, well, well. What have we here then? My book. The thought running through my head when I saw it was ‘Deirdre Chambers! What a coincidence!’ I bought a copy. Well it would have been rude not to.
On the bus home I flicked to the back of the book – my two stories were the last ones. I started reading them. My heart sank.
I know self-doubt is a curse, but I was horribly disappointed in the quality of the stories I had written. I wrote them both rather fast, submitted them, and instantly forgot about them – I had not read them since last September. In my memory they were more impressive than they actually seemed to me, in the cold light of day, the following June.
I have been writing a lot more since then, and even I can witness the improvement in my writing since those foggy-headed, confused days of my initial return to Ireland.
Still I am hardly the most neutral judge. And they are now in a book, on sale in a shop. Somebody decided they were adequate. So it’s a bit too late for cold feet now. In with the shoulder pads. Back with the head.
The launch was in The Loft venue in Limerick – the upstairs theatre space in the Locke Bar of Limerick. Limerick theatre celebrity Myles Breen did the launch. He gave an eloquent speech about the book. In fact he gave me a call-out from the stage.
He asked ‘Is the writer of 40 and Single here today?’ I timidly raised my hand. He looked at me, smiled and said ‘It gets worse.’
I was as proud as could be.