It feels like months since The Sisters’ Song was officially launched by Natasha Lester, but it’s actually less that two weeks ago! I’ve been wanting to upload the speeches, but because I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had a chance.
However, for the first time in weeks, my diary was clear today, so I made a video of the speeches and included photos at the end. I also added Natalie Dessay singing ‘Bist du Bei Mir’, which is a rather special song in the book.
It means the video’s very long—just shy of half-an-hour—and I don’t blame you for not watching it all, but you might be interested in just a glimpse of the fun we had.
I’ve also transcribed my speech, not the acknowledgements (most of them are at the back of the book anyway), just the last section in which I talk about how and why I started writing:
This book began because I wanted to tell a story. I still don’t know why, after 16 years as a doctor, I suddenly felt the need to write a story.
Looking back, perhaps it wasn’t as sudden as I thought. Looking back, I can see it was something that had been growing within me for decades, possibly ever since I was born. But it was so quiet, it was almost silent. A quiet voice inside my head, whispering something, but I couldn’t quite hear what.
It was easy to tune it out, especially because the noise of the everyday was so loud—of work, of patients, of children and family, of commitments and duty, even of cooking and cleaning. The noise of what I thought I should be doing.
But the voice didn’t go away. It was very patient, and still ever so quiet. I tried to ignore it, and fulfil my responsibilities. To be a good mum, be there for my family, get up and go to work and contribute to the family income. I didn’t want to let anyone down, especially my family and my patients.
Still the voice persisted, slightly louder now, trying to tell me something. It did it through tears and a feeling of general emptiness, a gap inside me that needed filling. That’s how these voices speak, I think. They don’t use words or state things clearly, but it was saying, You’re not happy, Louise.
At the age of 43, I gave in to that voice, and it really felt as if I was ‘giving in’. As if I was being ‘weak’ and irresponsible because I was quitting work, bailing out of my responsibilities, and doing what I wanted to do instead. I felt guilty for that, and I felt guilty for leaving my husband to support our family of six.
But I’m glad I listened to that voice, and did what I felt I needed to do. I’d been a doctor, a long-held dream of mine. I’d been a wife and then together with my husband, I’d created four beautiful children. Another dream.
And now, I’ve created something for myself. Something to leave behind when I die, something that is fully, wholly, and deeply me, on every single page.
Taking that first step to writing was a leap into the unknown. It was a risk and a gamble. I had no idea if I could write a story, let alone if it would be published. But I had to try.
And here I am, with a book.
In the video, if you’d like to skip sections, here’s where each one starts:
Natasha Lester’s Speech 00:35
Louise’s Acknowledgements 08:05
Louise’s Speech 20:58
A reading from The Sisters’ Song 23:46