The 18th May 2013 was a special day - it was my little sister Amy's wedding. She married Ben, her soldier, at Sandhurst Military Academy in Berkshire, and it couldn't have been better. Really, it was perfect, magical, a fairy tale of a day.
Except... I was giving a speech.
For a pretty traditional wedding, this was not a usual occurrence, but since Amy had given a rather wonderful speech at my own wedding ten years earlier, it was my turn to do the same. As maid of honour, this was an unexpected 'treat' for the assembled guests, who were prepared for the father of the bride, the best man, and, of course, the groom himself to stand up and speak, but who were not aware that I was going to say something too.
Oh dear indeed.
A speech, and a surprise one - for most of the friends and family gathered - at that.
The last time I gave a speech was when I was the school music prefect 14 years earlier. And it wasn't particularly good (it was also incredibly long). But I wanted to do this for Amy who had already made me promise that I'd keep it short.
No fear there; this would be a record-breakingly short speech! Or at least that was the plan. But when I read back through the first draft I realised I had got carried away again. Too many words, most of them not needed anyway.
In the bin.
The second draft was a lot shorter, probably less than a third of its original length, but when I read this one through there was no spark to it, no truth. No life.
It had to be better than that.
So instead of rehashing this poor speech for the third time, I disposed of it in the best way I know how (DELETE! DELETE!) and began again at the beginning.
I had an idea of how to get it just right - not too long, not too dull.
I'd make it a story about two little girls who grew up together and had shared memories about their childhood.
It worked, too.
By treating such a difficult and personal task as I would any of my writing, I was able to distance myself enough to get the words down, but allow myself to be close enough to make the story real.
And Amy's tearful reaction tells me I got it right after all.