It is 2 days until The Missing Hours is released in its paperback form. I will confess that traditionally, these days have me all of a quiver, worrying about all of the usual things – reviews, sales, the possibility that I have forgotten something I really should be worrying about. And so here we are, 2 days out. Only this time, I am worried about none of these things. Instead I find myself preoccupied by what our world is and what it is becoming, what kind of life my children will know.
I have been privileged. I’m not sure that I ever truly realised that until this past week. My career has unfolded, for the most part, as I have wished it to. I have rarely felt my gender to be a barrier to anything, really. There was that one time when a senior police officer informed me that I couldn’t possibly deliver a training course that I had designed because “the wives wouldn’t like it”. There were questioning looks when I walked into a room full of men, the occasional giggle. And whilst there were moments that stung, I never once felt that the world thought me to be lesser for being a woman.
Until this past week.
The political landscape has shifted, becoming perilous and cruel. I – like so many other women, so many minorities, members of the LGBT community, victims of past sexual assault – feel bruised. That the world has shifted beneath my feet. That I am no longer as safe as I once believed myself to be.
So I enter into this publication week shaken. These political swings to the right have given confidence to those who spout hatred and vitriol. They have given tacit permission for hate crimes.
I cannot change what has happened, to me personally nor to the world as a whole. I cannot make things other than they are. What I can do is teach my children about kindness and courage. I can teach my sons about the greatness of women, about the value of those whose skin colour is not their own, of those whose abilities differ and whose love looks different but is, when you come down to it, just the same.
It is publication week. But it is also a week in which the need to stand up for others is greater than it has ever been before. And so this week my worries are different. And yet my reactions will remain the same. I must be brave, I must be afraid and yet stand up regardless. I must keep putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that the only way we are guaranteed to fall is if we lie down in submission.