Finally Available –
For the last two years, I’ve been filling out my immigration forms, with the word “writer” in the little squares. ‘Don’t forget the “W” and remember, there is no “gh” in this one,’ I’d remind myself. Each time I put my mark on the page, I would notice a smug little smile on my face, while in the back of my mind I judged myself a fraud. Then, just like that, my book was born. And like any natural birth, it came slightly unexpectedly and a tad early. But early or not, 81,174 words sat on cream coloured pages and I had written each and every one of them.
Before I knew it, I was reaching into a brown scratchy cardboard box and pulling out a book – an actual book – with a cover and a blurb and an ISBN on the back. I was standing in Joanne Fedler’s office, the person who had started and ended my writing journey with me. She’d stood by me when I didn’t know if I was Author or Mauthor and helped pull my story out of me. There was a blurry moment when I felt like it was someone else’s accomplishment. With my phone recording my every move for Facebook all I could think of was – Joanne did a good job. As I touched the cover, I saw my name. I smelt the pages as I felt the weight in my hands. The surreal feeling of accomplishment had not hit me yet. ‘I’m the one who can’t spell,’ was all I could think.
I was encouraged in the lead up to the launch, but when the official date arrived I was still surprised to see that people from all over the world were waiting for a chance to support me. My family was cheering me on and friends of old and new were lighting the path for me and buying my book.
By the time my first launch party arrived, I was walking on air. I’d had a few RSVPs but I was still used to thinking small, so I wasn’t expecting the 50 people who arrived. Katrina, the host to my Sydney launch handled the planning of the party. She opened her beautiful home and took care of the food, drink and flowers. She reminded me to enjoy the moment. I had fellow writers come from Adelaide and New Castle just to be a hand at my back. I had flowers sent to me from Melbourne and I had old friends pushing their way to the front of the queue to talk to me. Most importantly I had my family, yes, the ones I had written about, standing next to me and buoying me up. I stood there proudly prattling on about my process and my life as I looked from one family member to the next. Cocooned in the love, my day ended on a high.
With people still clamouring to see me, I got on a plane to South Africa – a place where the sunsets are always spectacular. But this time I arrived at dawn. Seated in the middle row, I looked to my left and saw the sun rising in the east and to my right the moon setting in the west. Golden on the one side, silver on the other. I knew my stay was going to be distinct.
Skoobs Theatre of Books is a place I know well. I have wondered around it often enough, so when they agreed to host the Johannesburg party, I was elated. Some people came from the outskirts of Joburg, some flew in from the Cape. Others came from just around the corner, after their day at work. This time I was sent a gift basket with balloons and ducks. I was given flowers and cool looking sunglasses. And most surprisingly I was given a thoughtful bracelet with the number of words in my book engraved on it. As I stood on the top floor of the bookshop, trembling inside and hoping no-one noticed my fear, I looked around at the 75 people looking back at me.
There were a few faces I didn’t know, but I reminded myself I was amongst family and friends who cared. I also remembered that I had just written a book – a tell-all of my perceived failures, and yet I had never felt more supported. How could I go wrong? In fact, it turns out that I was 81,174 words right.