A few people have asked about the speech that I gave at my book launch, and a few others are mentioned in it who weren’t there to hear it in person. So I thought I’d share it so people can have a read if they are interested…
In September 2010, I sat down for my pastoral catch up chat at the start of my second year of uni with Carolyn Edwards. Over the Summer I’d had this idea and ever one to be a little precocious, a year ahead of schedule and before anyone asked me to, I shared with Carolyn my dissertation proposal. This proposal that somehow had “write a book” as a plan before I got round to the task of actually writing my dissertation. Something I’m still not quite sure was a good idea. I don’t now if Carolyn remembers this conversation, but at the time I did recognise how difficult this project would be for me to complete, not only because it was a mammoth undertaking, but mainly because of how very personal it was. I said to her that it would either be “the hardest or best thing I’d ever do” and she told me that it would probably be both. How very, very right she was.
And from that first fledgling little conversation that we had, my first thank yous go to Carolyn too. As soon as I’d had this idea I knew that there was only one person who I wanted to be my dissertation tutor, partly for her expertise in child development and pastoral care, but also because I knew I would need looking after as I wrote , and boy did you deliver Carolyn. It took a massive amount of faith to catch my vision for this project, especially as often you had to decipher it through sobs. With your calm, gentle and relentless support I never had any doubt that I’d get to the end of a project that at times was excruciating to work on. And you seemed to be in no doubt that one day it could be published. Without your input we wouldn’t be here celebrating today. Thank you.
There are some others who require thank yous for just how enthusiastic they have been the whole way along this 5 year writing and publishing journey. Those people who have been unwavering in their support and unrelenting in their encouragement that one day I would hold a copy of my book, even when writer’s block and publisher’s “Nos” seemed to mark the end of the story. Rosie, Ricky, Kim, Libbi, Kate. It has been friends and colleagues like you over the last few years who have made the journey that little bit easier. Thank you.
There are three ladies here who in very different ways have impacted my writing and therefore have helped me inch closer to this day. Alli, thank you for helping me fall in love with writing and giving me so many opportunities to do it. Yes, my drama scripts were very different to this book, but they were the first few scribbles in a life long book of stories. Not only did you encourage me to carry on writing on that day that I left Chaplin, but you have continued to encourage me by reading and commenting on various blogs along the way. Laura, thank you for teaching me how to plan. I’m not going to lie and say that I plan everything I write, but I did have some kind of plan that I stuck to while writing the book. Which I’m sure you’ll agree is leaps and bounds from where I used to be. Thanks. Catherine, my friend and mentor, over the last 9 years you have helped me to carry on using my words and express myself through them. You were subjected to the first, very poor attempt at a book and even then didn’t tell me to stop. But more importantly you have helped me to retain and rebuild a shaken faith and so today I am able to write theologically because you showed me it was ok to ask questions and not have all the answers. Thank you.
My great big, huge thanks go to my Thornton family. First for giving us such a beautiful place to have this celebration, especially the room with my favourite picture in it, the fluffy cow. But more importantly for being possibly more excited than me when I got that first email with my publishing offer in it, and the second email with the cover design. It meant so much to have colleagues, friends and community who were just as happy as me when things starting getting very exciting over the last couple of years. Agnes, Deirdre, Jane, Catherine, Lucie, Stella, Val, Jan, Issy, Frankie, Jess, Sophie, Anne. Thank you.
I am ridiculously lucky that while my family is small, we are close, both geographically and emotionally. I would not be the person I am today, celebrating the achievement I am without your love and crazy support. Thank you for letting me take parts of our story and turn them into this story. I am also lucky to have people in my life who have adopted me and been adopted by me, there are so many faces in front of me who are part of my extended family and for the lessons that you teach me about what family and community and grace and love look like, all of which I have written about, I cannot thank you enough.
I wrote in a blog a few weeks ago about some of the happiest days of my life, and I said that I often use the bittersweet-ometre as a gauge to how good the days are. Meaning that the more bittersweet it is that my mum is not there with us, generally the better and happier the day is. Today might just be off the chart for bitter sweetness. My mum, the eternal bookworm, who ignited in me a passion for books, would have loved today. My mum was and is the motivation for this project and it is because of her great love and light that the shadows I found myself walking in were so long. But I wouldn’t give that light back to not have the shadows, not for one second.
And finally to the one who put up with more in this project than any other. To the one who has taken my silent treatment, my anger, my blame and yet has wiped away all of my tears. To the author of my story, my eternal father and the one able to redeem the worst situation. My prayer is that this book brings glory to you. I wouldn’t have done this for anyone else.