After my week in Fenwick at Easter, I had a long weekend away with my family and knew that I wouldn’t have time to write about my experience. Instead, Lum stepped in and shared a picture blog. Now that a few weeks have passed, I have the time to properly reflect on running my first pop-up shop in a major retail store. Read on for all the details.

Being a real live author on show from 9am-5.30pm (6pm on Friday and Saturday but less on Sunday) was tiring. As an introvert, as an author, as a Virtual Assistant (my other business), I spend most days working from home on my own. I like it that way. Putting on make-up in the mornings and leaving the house was actually quite difficult. There were two days when I didn’t manage the make-up! My skin obviously was not used to make-up either and I got a spot on my chin on day two.

The whole experience was an emotional rollercoaster. Would I sell any books? Would anyone join me at story-time? Would I be able to speak to people? Would they (staff and customers) think I was a nuisance? I went from seriously scared to ecstatically joyful in the space of a few hours on the day I sold my first book. I started the week feeling excited, which by lunchtime of day 5 had turned to absolute tearful fear of never being able to speak in front of anyone ever again. As I say, a rollercoaster of emotions.

I discovered during the week that I am confident in approaching people in this situation. The thoughts in my mind were:
(1) these people (customers) do not know that I am shy and there is no reason for them to find out;
(2) this might be my only opportunity to talk to this family, and this one and the next one; and
(3) how would anyone discover my books if I didn’t talk to them.
So I just got on with the task of talking to people. The Fenwick staff were friendly and helpful, caring and excited for me when things went well.

A few lovely people took the time to visit me in Fenwick and buoyed my spirits. I’d like to thank my family (Mum and Dad, my husband and children), Suzanne Lock, Rosita Pieroni, Rebecca Thornton and her son, Georgi Agov and Craig Baston of Colbea for your support that week.

When the shop floor was quiet, I used my time to write. I felt so lucky to have the freedom to do this. At home, often writing is the last thing on my list, despite being an author. I always prioritise my VA work, marketing, housework, my children, shopping, walking the dog, cooking, laundry – you get the picture! So it was a real luxury to have no other responsibilities. I managed to write two more stories in the Lum series and thanks to Sam and Jen I have another story idea brewing.

Two unexpected emotions were firstly the Mum-guilt I felt for being away from home during school holidays. My son is now in Year 8 and daughter in Year 5 and I had always been with them during every school holiday. Secondly the simple pleasure I got from getting on the Park-and-Ride bus. It was a 10-minute journey which gave me space to breathe after an exhausting day before I got in my car to drive home. It was also a real pleasure to take my lunch along to Colchester Castle Park. At home I often forget to eat if I’m busy.

At the end of my week, I was proud of myself for both winning this opportunity and being able to make a success of it.

I’m now speaking with a Marketing Manager at Fenwick about returning to Fenwick during future school holidays. Watch this space!