Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 30 January 2016

A final word on New Beginnings:


Well, here we are at the end of January, with New Year well and truly behind us. The blog had a successful make over - new faces and an injection of new ideas and enthusiasm getting the revamped site off to what we all hope will be a happy and successful 2016. Now, as February approaches, life is settling back into its normal routines for the majority of us, and the phrase ‘new beginning’ so popular on January 1st has been buried by real life.

There’s been a lot of talk recently both on social media and in the mainstream news about a certain Katy Collins. In case you decided to hibernate for January and missed the furore, Katy’s debut novel about her own new beginning has hit the headlines in a big way. Jilted virtually at the altar, she decided to travel the world to get over her heartbreak. Along the way she wrote a blog and has now landed a three book deal with CarinaUK - the first of which ‘Destination Thailand’ immediately topped the bestseller charts in late January. Well done Katy - your New Beginning has been awesome - very public - but awesome. 

I’m sure we’ve all dreamt at some stage about having a new beginning - running away from a life that has become difficult or just plain boring but unlike Katy, not many people actually do it. Well, I’ve got a confession to make to those of you who don’t know me. Seventeen years ago my OH and I did just that. When everything went wrong and we lost our home, we bought two bikes, put the dog in a trailer behind one of them, bought a tent and ran away to cycle down the canal paths of western France and on to the Riviera. Not as exotic as going halfway around the world but to me, someone who had just lost her home and security, and who had only ever been abroad once before, it was a huge step to take.
Neither of us called it a new beginning at the time or even thought it would be years before we set foot back in the UK. It was simply a challenge and an adventure at a time in our life when we were floundering. It was when we decided to stay and make a life for ourselves in France that it turned into our new beginning - a unexpected life in a foreign country that was never planned.
I had always planned on being a writer though and living in France has helped in that respect - although in other ways it has hindered. (Maybe more on that in another blog post.) All these years later we’re still here, although no longer down on the Riviera, and our new beginning has morphed into the inevitable routine lifestyle like everyone else’s - albeit in a country where I still struggle to speak the language. 


I have a question for everyone. If your latest work hit all the bestseller lists and you were suddenly in demand for TV and radio interviews, features in both the tabloids and the more serious papers and popular magazines - how would you deal with it? In a world where it seems there is an insatiable appetite for private things to be made public, would you embrace the publicity or would you run from it?


This is the new cover for one of my shortly to be re-issued books which will be available as a paperback for the first time as well as on Kindle. I thought it made an appropriate picture for the theme of my blog!


16 comments:

  1. Oh Jennie, I love this post! I've already been wondering how you ended up living in France and this has given us a tiny insight into that. How brave of you to cycle off into the unknown (albeit with husband and dog!).
    And as to your question about the loss of publicity if you do make the 'big break' with a book - I fear I would be very bad at this. I sometimes have this fantasy that my next book is on the best seller list, getting masses of 5* reviews, is talked about everywhere ... but that I can stay as anonymous as I currently am!

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    1. Thanks Gillian, sometimes I can't believe that we were actually brave enough to do it! I think, like you, I'd be very bad at having my life invaded with lots of publicity.

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  2. What an adventure, Jennie! I absolutely love the picture you paint of you and your OH cycling, with your dog in the trailer behind - bravo! As to the bestseller dream - I'd enjoy meeting new people, presumably interested in books and writing...and other things too. However, the privacy issue would be a biggie for me - family and friends would be off limits. (Not a worry I'm losing sleep about!) A far bigger thrill than the publicity attracted, would be the knowledge readers were enjoying my work. You're right - we should all 'Follow Your Star'. :-)

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    1. Thanks Rae. I agree, it's knowing that people are reading and enjoying the stories that's important.

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  3. Really interesting, Jennie. I want to read about the hindered writing, now! As to the publicity thing, Jo Cannon has done just that! Those of us who know her are delighted, but it's a huge shock to her. From being a doctor in a hospital to seeing posters of your debut novel all over the London tube network, having a glitzy launch party thrown by the publishers, interviewed on Radio 4... Well. No, of course I'm not jealous...

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    1. Jealousy can rear it's head from time to time though can't it Lesley? Especially on days when one is having a crisis of confidence and everyone else is getting those 5 star reviews and great new book deals! Have to say I'd love a glitzy launch party - never ever had a launch party glitzy or otherwise.

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  4. Great post, Jennie, and so interesting to read of your escape to another life! One of the things I like about being more of an online writer is that I can handle that kind of publicity more than I could if I were expected to be in the public eye in 'real' situations (chance would be a fine thing!).

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  5. Thanks Rosemary. Yes it's easier to hide behind a computer screen than to actually have to deal with 'real' situations. Maybe we'd get better at it with practice?

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  6. Absolutely brilliant blogpost......very interesting, thought-provoking, and envy-making.....am I brave enough to move to another country? How would I cope if thrust into the limelight? Well, I think I probably would because most of us do to a certain extent but we all have the seventh veil..... the one we do not drop for anyone and I will hang onto my seventh veil!

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  7. Thank you Linda. I think you're right about everyone having a seventh veil.

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  8. Jennie, what a fascinating post. Your closing question is unlikely ever to be an issue - but I'll try and answer it. I think I would try and carry on as normal. I'm quite good at compartmentalising my life and I'd try and do that.

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  9. Thanks for commentating Jennifer. I think carrying on as normal is probably the best idea if fame ever comes knocking - maybe it would all be over in fifteen minutes anyway!

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  10. Wow, what a new beginning Jennie. We too made a break and a new life for ourselves in France, but moving from one home to another with all our treasured possessions, including two cats, a Mini Cooper and a three year old doesn't seem quite a brave.

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  11. Jackie thank you so much for your comment. I think you were brave - you made the decision to do it with a small child! The French education system and bureaucracy must have been a steep learning curve and I know from your blog you've really settled down to your life in France with everything you do locally.

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  12. Nice post, Jennie. I'd cope as best as I could with the publicity, but I'm not a limelight seeker and some of it would be hard.

    I love your new book cover - good luck with it!

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  13. Thank you Jenny. I don't think many writers like the limelight do they?But we all still long for that bestseller! I think writers have complicated personalities.

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