Today sees the publication of Lost Luggage, my second story with Boldwood Books.
I’m really excited to share it – it’s 72 year old Dolly’s story, a story about life always being full of chances, it’s never too late to turn things around.
When I was heading for my late twenties, recovering from a mental health illness and, at times, stressful university experience, I remember the panic I felt, deep inside, that I’d missed all my chances. I’d never have a career. Never find a partner. My illness had caused me to turn down many opportunities. After graduating I stayed inside for several months, rarely going out unless it was with my parents. I didn’t want to see anyone else. Or, rather, I didn’t want anyone to see me.
That lonely, isolating time is what inspired the story of Lost Luggage, along with Covid and the lockdowns so many of us, around the world, endured, spending months, years in some cases, stuck indoors.
Seventy-two year old Dolly, in particular, has a sense that it is all too late, that she’s missed her chances and settled for a life that is far from the dreams she harboured as a young woman. Her life fell apart when she was let down badly in her twenties and her plans for the future evaporated. As a result she moved in with her older sister and lived with her for fifty years. But then Greta left too and Dolly’s life fell apart again.
As a woman in my mid-fifties, I still have mental health issues, however I no longer experience that depth of hopeless despair because I now have the gift of hindsight. I realise that every year, whatever age you are, brings the possibility of following your dreams, of things turning around and a trough becoming a peak.
Take my career. I didn’t get published until my mid forties and I know writers who’ve got their first deal a couple of decades after that. And then there are my drinking issues. For a long time I’d known I had a problem and it going full-blown was always *in the post* as addicts say. That post arrived big time when I got published and in 2016 I finally went into treatment. So it wasn’t too late for me, I got there eventually and now I’m almost six years sober.
The key to finally achieving your goals? It’s facing your fears. Forcing yourself to do the most difficult thing. And accepting help from people to do so. For me… in my twenties it was a matter of undergoing therapy and forcing myself out to meet friends, and getting a job. To get published, I had to brace myself and send out work, with support from fellow writers. I received over eighty rejections but kept going. And to get sober, with the support of my husband and children I faced the scary prospect of a treatment programme with other addicts. It was one of the hardest processes I’ve ever been through, but when you reach a point where your situation feels as if it can’t get any worse, what have you got to lose?
With the encouragement of her neighbours retired Leroy and eleven year old Flo, Dolly realises she, too, must push herself out of her comfort zone. When she bids on a piece of lost luggage and finds a notebook inside it, containing a Year of Firsts, the answer has landed in her lap.
Dolly must undertake these challenges herself – with a little help from her friends.