I have to say that yesterday was a pretty surreal day.
Almost exactly one year ago (on 30 April to be exact), I spent an afternoon looking at the websites of various mental health publishers, with a view to sending some e-mails in the hope that there might be some interest in a book I was writing.
There were plenty of possible companies, but there was only one that stood out - Trigger Press. They were a relatively new publisher, set up by a charitable foundation, totally dedicated to mental health, and committed to publishing individual stories about mental illness … the real-life struggles, and the fight towards recovery.
They just felt “right”, so I sent a message.
They were genuinely the only company I contacted, and I suppose the rest is, as they say…
It’s no secret that I found aspects of the writing and editing process really difficult. I dipped quite badly on a couple of occasions after remembering, thinking and writing about some moments in my life that I’d spent any number of years trying to suppress.
Trigger (they’ve recently dropped the Press) are much more than simply a publishing house though. There is a passion for the subject and for making sure every book is as good as it can possibly be. Some of the staff have lived experience of mental illness, but all of them genuinely care about the welfare of their authors.
So, despite some tough times along the way, and however busy the Trigger team was becoming, they were so supportive – not just in relation to the technical aspects of writing, but emotionally as well, which is something very special indeed.
As the months passed, so the edits and drafts became a final proof (with a cover that, quite by chance, was orange – my favourite colour), and eventually a box containing ten advance copies was delivered to my modest little semi on the outskirts of Middlesbrough.
The overwhelming feeling on seeing and holding the book for the very first time was relief … relief that there would be no more edits or requests for more content … no more thinking. Relief developed into a sense of pride, but didn’t quite extend as far as excitement (bloody dysthymia...).
At the final proof stage, my parents read the whole book. Much as it was hard to recall and relate episodes from so long ago, I was more concerned with how Mum and Dad might react to seeing those episodes in print – whether or not they actually knew about the moments in question. Obviously we talked through some things, but the fact that they were fine and as unfailingly supportive as they have been throughout my entire life … well, that meant the world to me.
I had (and still have) doubts about my ability as a writer, and worries about how I might be perceived – or even judged – particularly by people I don’t know; but I can say for certain that knowing that my wife and parents believe in me and are proud of me is more important than I have the ability to convey.
“Today Just Like Yesterday” was published … er … yesterday; a date that coincided with Trigger’s second birthday, and an invitation to visit the office in Newark to meet the team, fellow authors, and hopefully grab a sausage roll or two along the way.
The trip to Nottinghamshire was actually a last-minute decision which was fortunately supported by work; but their birthday party turned out to be a really enjoyable event, during which I met so many lovely people (the overwhelming majority for the very first time).
And I was successful in the sausage roll department as well…
I stopped off on the way back north to see Mum and Dad, before heading home to find that the Trigger team had arranged for a box of publication day cupcakes to be delivered. It was such a lovely gesture, that was totally unexpected, but which maybe gives an insight into the relationship between this particular publisher and its authors.
Trigger is creating something very special on the banks of the River Trent; I feel incredibly lucky to be part of what is rapidly growing into a “family”, with every member dedicated to removing mental health stigma, to show that talking is fine, and recovery (in whatever form) is possible.
Yesterday was a good day…