Two events will occur this week.
Firstly: The announcement of the winner of the eight cuts gallery Prize will be made this coming Friday.
In case you haven’t heard: Peirene features on the short list. The panel in their nomination described Peirene as not only publishing wonderful books but also having “a quietely confident vision that extends beyond the individual titles through to building a community.
I must pause for a moment and apologise on behalf of the Nymph. She does not care about the vision and the community, she told me. In fact, all she wants is to drag me down to the West End today, on a Sunday!, to buy a new cocktail dress in anticipation of the big Prize Gala reception.
I, on the other hand, feel thrilled by the text of the nomination. I’ve printed the article and hung it over my desk. To remind me of the vision. A nymph might not need a vision. But a woman definitely does. For running a company. And having a son.
And here we come to the second major event of this week. My son’s birthday. On Thursday he will be born exactly 11 years ago. The story of his birth has some relevance to the prize nomination.
I wanted a home-birth. I had a precise picture in my head. I wanted to give birth in the kitchen and afterwards serve tea and home-made cake.
So, throughout the pregnancy I baked a lot of cakes – plum cakes, cherry cakes, cheese cakes – and from the 37th weeks onwards I scrubbed the kitchen floor every evening. Moreover, numerous obstacle were put in my way. At some point my iron level sank so low that home birth looked unlikely. I then drank disgusting fishy Spirulina by the liter and it worked wonders. At 41 weeks the hospital wanted to induce me. When I asked why, they said because they like to induce at 41 weeks. I refused. And at 42 weeks there were still no signs of the baby ever leaving the womb.
He finally made an appearance at 42.5 weeks, at home, in the kitchen and cake & tea served afterwards at 4.30am in the morning. I was in seventh heaven.
The moral of the tale? The vision of course. I believe that I ( with the help of my son- in-utero) overcame every obstacle and kept on scrubbing the floor because I had a vision to guide me, an image in my head that I wanted to materialize.
And what applies to birth giving applies to running a publishing house. When I sat up Peirene I had a vision too. But the gritty chores of running a company can blur the eye. And that’s why it is so thrilling when someone else picks up your vision and holds it close in front of your gaze. Of course I hope we will win the prize but even if we don’t, I will be grateful for the nomination that reminded me why I set up Peirene in the first place.