Hey beautiful people! I hate to read a blog post that opens with an apology for not having written sooner, but I'm afraid that's what you're going to get here.
Like, a lot. I haven't posted on here since January and that's a whole six months ago. Shit man, I'm so sorry.
Not that you've been waiting with bated breath or anything. I'm sure this post-lockdown world has flung plenty of commitments and distractions at you to the extent that you have potentially not given my distinct lack of literary slop a second thought. But I felt I had to say something. And I don't even know why it's taken me so long. Life, I guess. The whole shabang of it.
But I'm here now and that's all that matters, right? Plus, if you didn't already know, I have been committing myself to you in a different way for the last few months. Since February, I have taken it upon myself to beam out live over evil Facebook's airwaves to bring you bookish joy, random ramblings and creative shenanigans.
That's right. Every Thursday night, at around 8pm I pour myself a glass of something indulgent and plonk myself in front of my ancient laptop screen so I can click some dubious buttons and talk to anyone willing to listen.
You might think, 'So flipping what?' After all, it's not anything that any other self-respecting author isn't doing. Anybody worth their literary salt is currently pointing at jaunty blocks of text on TikTok along to mildly ironic pop tunes, enticing readers to Zoom book launches of a squillion heads-in-squares or using Insta Live to shout about #bookstacks #bookboyfriends and #tbrlists that last until infinity and beyond . . .
But, my dear readers, it might surprise you to know that talking in front of people - digital or not - ain't my natural comfort zone. I'm getting better as the years tick(tok) by, but I'm still trying to shake off the shackles of the low self-esteem I had during younger years.
When I sit down in front of that laptop screen at 7.58pm, with my cheapie-nasty ring light turned up to the max, my glass of Malbec soothing my nerves and my two published novels ready to hide behind, I am giving myself a mental pep talk. "Abi, you are no longer that girl afraid of her own voice. You need to do this."
I have learned, in my own torturous way, that we have to push ourselves into zones of discomfort in order to get any better at anything. Have you found that too?
However, I wasn't ready to do that when I was a seven-year-old snotty lass being told I had to stand up in class and recite my 12-times tables.
I wasn't ready to do that when I was at university and seemed to be the only one in the drama seminar who didn't have any levels of critical intelligence whatsoever.
I wasn't ready to do that when the misogynistic business adviser told me my post-graduate business idea didn't have legs (at the same time as eyeing up mine).
And I wasn't ready to do that when a previous partner talked me down at every opportunity he got.
But I'm ready now folks. I'm ready now.
When I started writing the #lifeisyourstrilogy that was the start of it. It's amazing how typing words on a keyboard can ultimately lead you to finding your voice even if, at first, it is silent and digital. And pushing my protagonist, Jess, out of her own comfort zone throughout the books has helped urge me on to do the same. Especially when (as anyone who has read the books will know) Jess is a shameless extension of me.
That, and the facts that we've spent a high proportion of the last year and a half in lockdown, AND I am outnumbered by members of the male species here at Yardimci towers . . . I NEED to do this. I NEED to connect with all you lovely people who are supportive, interested, positive and more often than not, female.
Of course, anybody of any other gender is always welcome to join my little live videos. Just be aware that you will be required to engage in chat about all the things that the Yardimci males do not wish to even entertain the thought of:
We chat about other stuff, of course - but those subjects seem to be the go-to topics my growing tribe and I hover around.
Each week I choose something cool to read out to you. A previous blog post that I think deserves a resurgence, a passage from one of my books, a poem from my free e-book, What About Now, or, if you're really lucky, a never-before-heard extract from an upcoming novel. And there are upcoming books - I promise.
Sometimes I run a competition and the comments come hurtling in, in an effort to win a signed copy of one of my books. I love that bit. It's like being Santa Claus.
Reading and giving things away are delightful things to do in front of a screen . . . but the part of this weekly ritual that really gets me pushing on through that pesky old comfort zone, is the general chat around the readings. Why? Well, mostly because I don't have a flipping clue what I'm going to talk about.
Now I love a good conversation, please know that. Those wonderful, putting-the-world-to-rights, heart-to-heart-type conflabs are what I missed the most during lockdown. But those generally aren't recorded, beamed out to god-knows-who on Facebook and potentially locked onto t'internet forever more. So finding the courage to engage in spontaneous chat whilst being recorded and permanently having your crows-feet and descending jowls committed to digital history, now that takes courage.
At least, for me.
So, this blog post is a thank you really. A massive big, chunky, squishy, soft and bubbly 'Thank You' to those of you have been tuning in so far. It is YOU who brings the magic to my 'discomfort zone'. And YOU who reminds me that I can hold a conversation with a screen, and a bloody good one too. Droopy jowls or not - who gives a damn?
I really hope you'll keep joining me on a Thursday night. I know a lot of ladies form my little tribe have been getting their drinks ready just before 8pm, and tagging each other online as reminders that the video is about to start. They all say hi to teach other in the comments as the video goes live and new friendships have even been forged. This really goes above and beyond what I could have expected and makes me feel ALL the feels.
And if you haven't joined a Thursday Night Live yet? Well, what are you waiting for? Yes, you could watch them on Replay later on (I pin them to the top of my page all week long so you can find them easily), but live is more fun, live is where it's at, live is where the magic happens.
Cool. So it's a date then? 8 o'clock on Thursday it is. And be sure to bring a glass. Hell, bring a bottle.
I'll see you there.