Last week a box turned up at my front door. I picked it up and took it into my writing room and placed it on the desk. It’s a cardboard box, not large – it could contain two video tapes, if you can remember those. Since the box turned up I’ve been opening it on a daily basis, an hourly basis, sometimes every minute. I open the box, lift out the scrunched up balls of paper, which are there to offer protection, and lift out the small bundle of flyers. For a moment I stare at the package beneath, and there are times when I think that I should stare at it, let my eyes do the work, because it would be safer that way. But in the end I give in: I lift out the main part of the package and slide out what’s inside – three hard copes of Fall On Me.
The cover is simple in the classic sense, and the internal layout is similarly unfussy – the whole production has been based on maximum attraction to potential buyers and maximum readability for readers. At least that’s how I see it – it’s all been up to the wonderful people at Blemish Books.
How did I feel the first time I held a copy?
Enlivened. Elated. Ecstatic. I might even have welled.
I sent a text to He Who Loves Knowing About These Things: I’ve just received hard copies of my novella and they look FUCKING AWESOME! The reply: OMG! How excited are you??
In this day of e-readers and all that tiresome talk about the death of the novel, the end of the ‘professional writer’ (whatever that means), it’s just so good to hold in your hands a book that’s been made with so much care. There’s no smell – not yet – but there is this wonderful, magical sense of being able to hold a world in the palm of your hands. Between these covers are lives, and these lives are in a precarious situation, and they have a problem to solve. What’s more, these lives are slipping away from me, as in they no longer feel like my creation. Even writing ‘my creation’ feels absurd. Did I really create those characters and put them in that situation? It’s not a question of false modesty; I’m just incredulous.
It’s only been fifteen months since the first handwritten draft of Fall On Me came along in the little gatekeeper’s cottage that’s stuck onto the southside of Cataract Gorge, Launceston. In the world of publishing, so I’ve been lead to believe, that’s a short period of time to go from scribble to physical book, even a relatively humble book like this. However, to put that into perspective, it’s been six years since my last foray into publication, Remnants, a novel, and since then governments have been and gone, earthquakes and tsunamis have tried to ruin countries, and planet Earth has warmed up just that little bit more.
But that’s the past. This post is about the present and the future.
What’s on my desk – what’s beside me right now – is a little box of books.
Sometimes it feels like what’s beside me isn’t a box but a nest, and in the nest is a white pigeon, and sometimes I imagine carefully scooping up the pigeon and lifting it up into the air, and watch it swoop this way and that against the deep blue Goulburn sky. But then I tell myself to pull my head in. In a week and a half there will be a launch, eminent Australian singer, performer, writer, thinker and festival director Robyn Archer will do the honours. From that moment onwards, Lou Bard and his son Luke and a glorious young woman called Anna Denman will be sent off into the world. So if you happen to be in the Canberra neck of the woods, do come along and help celebrate.
The launch details:
5.30pm, Thursday 15 September
Electric Shadows Bookshop
Shop 2, 40 Mort Street, Braddon, ACT
If you’re doing your hair that night, you can pre-order your copy through your local bookshop, or by contacting Blemish Books direct.
In the meantime, between now and the launch, I’ll turn to the box on my desk, and I’ll open it, I’ll lift out the scrunched up balls of paper, and I’ll lift out the small bundle of flyers that’s dwindling now, because I’ve been handing them out. For a moment, perhaps for quite a few moments, I’ll yet again stare at the package beneath. But in the end I’ll give in: I’ll lift out the main part of the package and slide out what’s inside – a story.