Like most writers, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my postie (actually, that’s not quite true – I really like the postie himself, he’s a nice guy and a friend of mine – really it’s the post I have issues with. Some days the mail in my letter box is just plain depressing, with rejections making me ponder whether this writing life is for me. Other days, there’s nothing writing-related, just more bills, and I’m again left wondering, this time whether anyone is reading those submissions. But every now and then comes a good mail day – with a contract, or a positive rejection (yes, they do exist), or something even better.
Yesterday was one of those ‘even better’ days because my postie brought me a parcel from Walker Books, containing my first copy of Toppling, my new verse novel. I knew without opening the parcel what it was, because my editor had told me to expect it – but it was still a thrill to unwrap the book, and dance madly around the house with it. The thrill of finally holding a book-baby in your arms does not diminish, even when it is book number 30.
I flicked through and admired the illustrations, couldn’t wait to show my beloved when he came home from lunch, or my kids when they came home after school, and even took it to the pool to show my friends while we watched our kids swimming. But I must confess it took me a full day before I could bring myself to read it. I had just a touch of stage fright. A strange worry about rereading it in this new form (no longer a draft, a manuscript or even a proof) kept me from sitting down and reading the whole thing. But this morning, at coffee time, I sat in my recliner, opened it and read.
The first thing that struck me was what a wonderful job the illustrator, Rhian Nest James, and the designer, Wayne Harris, did of the cover. Then, as I turned the first few pages I had a tiny millisecond of weirdness as I saw the names on the dedication page – before I knew what I was thinking I had a fleeting thought of ‘I know two people with those names’ before I more consciously realised that, duh, of course I do, because they’re the people I dedicated the book to. After that, I read. Cover to cover, stoppling only to study the illustrations (and sip my coffee).
And my verdict? I’m satisfied. I adore the illustrations, the sad bits still bring tears to my eyes, and I can see only tiny things in the writing I would change (and that’s my prerogative, as writer, to wonder if I should have/could have made it better). Stage fright gone, I’m now looking forward to release date, just a month away.
Must get busy with planning launch celebrations!