On making a Thing: Deeper than the Sea

Today, I got a notification on Instagram from someone at the Sun bookstore in Melbourne. They had an advance copy of my new book in their hands. They said nice things about it, which was lovely.

I’m a bit jealous, too, because I haven’t held the book in my hands, yet. I haven’t had the chance to turn it over and over and squish it and smell it and inspect every inch of it. Not for flaws, just because I made it, it came from my mind and then some magician transformed it into a bunch of beautifully bound pages. But, there was a big old party of more overwhelming feelings that came up when I saw that post. They were a bit more complicated, and took me a little while to untangle.

If people ask me how I feel about The Vale Girl now, I tell them that it’s sort of like seeing photos of yourself from a long time ago, and folding up into yourself a bit when you get some objectivity around that hairstyle/outfit/pose that you thought was so dang cool at the time. (I think if it’s a hat, we can say unequivocally that it didn’t look good. Hats don’t. People pretend to mourn them and say ‘Why does nobody wear hats anymore?’ but that is just milliners). I’m proud of that book, but there are also parts of it I wish I’d done differently.

It’s a strange feeling. Any art is strange, making it and then releasing it into the wild is strange. You would probably not put your newborn baby out into the middle of a barren field in winter to be picked at by hawks or other birds of prey, correct? But that is what we do when we make a thing, we fling it up into the sky like a wish and we drop it from the great height of our own tender heart and silly brain, and it doesn’t belong to us anymore but at the same time it always does. I can’t think of anything more exposing.

Books are never finished, that is the other tricky thing.

You could keep working and working on them, and maybe they would get better and maybe they wouldn’t, but at some point you have to stop. If you are at all inclined towards perfectionism, that is rather fucking hard.

It’s equal parts exciting and terrifying and it makes me feel vulnerable, and I want people to be gentle but reviewers aren’t, because then what would the point of a review be? They would not be called reviews, just compliments. I do understand that I’m lucky to have the opportunity to make a thing and have somewhere to fling it from, in any case. I’m not shouting into a void, I have a publisher and an agent and a family who will stalk the book stores of Brisbane and rearrange the shelves so my book is at eye level of every passer-by.

And if some of them take it down from that shelf, carry it over to the counter and slap their money down (or more likely PayPass it which doesn’t even feel like spending, more like playing with a toy robot that makes cute little beeping sounds) I hope they are pleased with their purchase. And if they’re not, I’m going to figure out a way to not care too much, because I can’t control that. Wish me luck.

Deeper than the Sea will be in book stores in July. If you’re in Brisbane, Avid Reader is a grouse one.