Last week, I experienced a curious mixture of elation and lethargy.
I had a birthday – love those – and my friends clubbed together, at my request, to buy me a fabulous set of artist’s crayons for my expanding mandala ‘habit’. On Wednesday morning, I opened a tin of seventy two magical pencils and encountered colouring at a new level. I’ve never had the chance to use really good crayons before and it was enchanting.
At the same time, I could only venture into the new experience in short bursts, due to a disturbing recurrence of ‘unwellness’. Three times this year, with the approach of the full moon, I have found myself struggling with huge bouts of fatigue and general ‘can’t-be-bothered-ness’ – a pale reflection of a long-term illness I suffered many years ago. And on all three occasions, the symptoms have mysteriously disappeared on the day of the full moon. Unfortunately, this latest bout coincided with my birthday week.
However, on Friday, as I was just about hanging on, something amazing happened. The proof copy of my book arrived from America, where CreateSpace organise their printing for such things. I had read various on-line accounts of how incredible this experience is – of holding and opening your very own book for the first time – but nothing had prepared me for the delight and incredulity that burst spontaneously from me.
There is something weirdly surreal about handling a book that contains words and sentences so familiar that they are now intimately carved into your brain, and further, to see the positioning of those words on the page in exactly the way you set them up a couple of weeks previously. Along, of course, with that infamous cover.
I felt proud, surprised and overjoyed, all in one go.
And then I found my first mistake. A typo. How?!!! How, after all that checking, re-writing, re-checking, re-reading and checking again, did a typo – of all things – get in there? And, of course, to correct these pages, I have to go back to the original manuscript …
I have, however, made an executive decision. I had ordered the proof copy because I really wanted to see what the book would look like ‘live’. For all the digital imaging available to me – perfectly adequate to carry out the proofing process – I thought that, for this first one, I would order the book to make sure. And it is a very different experience, having the book in my hands, compared to seeing it on-screen.
But having acquired it, I have decided not to handle it any more than I need to – not to get fingerprints on the cover, risk creasing the pages or cracking the spine. I have in front of me, whatever happens next, a historical document. A pristine copy of ‘what I did’. The result of three and a half years of hard slog and unbelievable enjoyment.
I’ve written my first book – and I have the proof!