I don’t pretend to be perfect, but your support has shown me the beauty of being honest, writes Notebook columnist Melanie Blake
Happy New Year everyone, I hope you had as good a one as possible in the infected bubble we seem trapped in! A new start is meant to be ahead of us, and I hope it is because I really feel in need of fresh beginnings.
If you’ve been following my column for the past few weeks, you’ll know I found myself in the sort of drama I’m more used to seeing my clients act out on screen. This time it was me who left him at the altar – and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that finding myself in such a dilemma over someone I thought I’d moved on from has shown me that I have a lot of work to do on myself.
I can tell you that he did get married, and yes, I did want him to chase after me in the car as I drove off. But he didn’t, and that gave me the closure I needed. Finally, I realised this was a man who didn’t just want to have his cake and eat it, he wanted to own several bakeries and still try all the different varieties on offer elsewhere. Enough is enough.
I promise you I will never allow him to pull on any of my heartstrings again (so many of you wrote in warning me of your own stories), so you have my word – that chapter is well and truly closed.
I’ve had my critics for this column – or trolls as we call them – saying I reveal too much for an author, and I should just stick to promoting my books or promoting my talent. But you know what, I’m not perfect and I don’t pretend to be. That’s the beauty of being honest and showing your vulnerable side – the amount of letters from readers supporting me, advising me and asking for my opinion during this difficult time living on my own in lockdown has really kept me going.
I hope that reading my weekly ups and downs has given your weekends a bit of a kick too, even if it is just to shake your head at the trouble I seem to land myself in each week.
Today I have a bit of sad, but also exciting news. This will be my last column until the summer – I’m off back to my day job. Those of you who know my writing will remember that my first book, Ruthless Women – the book I wrote during the first lockdown, that 39 publishers told me “no one would ever want to read” – went on to sell 200,000 copies, was translated into seven languages (none of which I speak!) and reached number 4 in the bestseller chart. It was such a success that the publishers wanted a sequel, so this year, between columns, I’ve been throwing my heart and soul into writing Guilty Women.
The women in my novels are all women I’ve encountered in real life, and I like to think my books are a hit because people can tell I’m writing from the truth. All the bitches, bastards and two-faced backstabbers that inhabit your TV screens daily are in there – just under different names.
As a working-class woman from a Stockport council estate, with no official training or qualifications – just pure passion to give you readers a great story – I’d love to get on that bestseller list again. I’d also like to prove to all those posh snobs who want to keep us “Educating Rita types” away from the prizes that it wasn’t a fluke!
So if reading about my disastrous love life this year has given you any pleasure, I’d be thrilled if you’d order my books on Amazon and then come and find me on social media and tell me what you think!
Wish me luck, I’ll miss you. It’s been like therapy sharing my problems with you every week and getting your feedback. Keep in touch and, who knows, by the time Guilty Women is out in April, I might even have fallen in love again.
And when I do return, I hope my little pooch Benjie is still here with me (he’s 14 and not doing great). The smile on his face, despite his pain, makes me happy to have every day I can with him, so hopefully we’ll both be back in the summer. Until then, stay safe.
Mel would love you to keep in touch while she’s away. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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