Sam got home around 5.30pm.
"Is it here?" he asked, soon as he was through the door.
I shook my head. Refreshed delivery status again: still in transit.
Just after 6pm, we were on the couch together musing over the ebb and flow of our lives while I was writing this novel. Only seven months ago, our conversations were full of wondering if I'd be fortunate enough to get an offer from a publisher.
Mid-sentence, Sam leapt forward.
"Oooh babes!" He had a better view of the street than me.
I flew from the couch, shrieking. Flung the front door open.
Mr DHL was laughing. "Wish I got this reaction to every delivery!"
He was such a good sport.
As I ripped the package open, I went numb, and then mute. It looked like a book. Smelled like a book. Had my name on it. I stared at Sam. He was smiling. The thing he always said he wholeheartedly believed I could do, day in and day out, was in our hands.
It's not the final, meaning it's not the cover that will be on store shelves across ANZ. That's still to come. As are copy edits, when I work with my incredible editor to do a last polish of every single sentence. I'm learning as I go; it takes a village. This, the advance reading copy, is a free book my publisher distributes to booksellers and industry professionals (media, librarians, other novelists) to share a first taste of Alice's story, in book form. Whenever I can, I try to lean in to the beauty and nerve-splitting vulnerability of every stage in this process. I will myself to stay close to relish and gratitude, rather than succumb to fear.
To hold my novel in my hands was even wilder than I imagined it to be when I was a book-hugging kid who escaped into stories with her big writing dreams.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing in this with me.
We spent election results night in the company of Arundhati Roy, on the last stop of her UK book tour at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music.
She walked out to rapturous applause, put a hand over her heart, and leant to the microphone. “Congratulations on the momentum,” she said in her soft, musical voice. Raucous cheering and whooping. “Keep it going.”
In the violet light I took notes of the gems that fell from her mouth.
“The essays I wrote after God of Small Things began to deepen my way of seeing. Whether fiction or non-fiction, I wanted to do what I could do best: tell the story. Blow open the spaces that were closing down.”
“Fiction is not an argument. Fiction is a universe.”
“My characters are full of porous borders. You can’t tell the truth…except in fiction.”
“We need literature, art, music; they are acts of shamanism. We need those acts now, as much as analysis.”
“I think it’s important we remain dangerous. When I’m writing, I don’t think about the best seller list, or the number of copies sold. The test is to be dangerous."
We walked out of the concert hall into the watercolour night. Stood gazing at the clear twilight sky. Crossed the road and wandered into the cosy warmth of The Salutation aka ‘The Sally’, a favourite local pub. In 1846 a girl accompanied her father to Manchester and stayed there. While her father had cataract surgery, she stayed in their lodgings and began writing a novel. A little tale called, Jane Eyre.
When we got home I wasn't surprised to find stars in my eyes. Went to bed, hungry for sleep after a few sleepless nights. Drifted off deeply grateful for the safety in my home, the food in my belly, and the life I live.
Here’s to hope, and resilience, wildflowers. I hope your weekend is kind.
This is the first thing I saw this morning. Going to sleep in England and waking to catch up on what's happened in Australia while I was sleeping is some kind of time-bending, night-and-day magic. I consequently am like one of those fainting goats that passes out when it startles. Who needs coffee?! God help me, God help the Postie, God help us all when my own copy arrives in the mail.
PS GUM BLOSSOM WRAPPING PAPER FOR BOOKSELLERS!?!
Let's stand for art and our dreams today, wildflowers, with everything our little goat hearts have.
"All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty."
Wednesday. At writing desk. Conjuring rainbows.
Here's to courage. To being grateful for every scrap we have. To making life a tiny bit more tender before we go to sleep, even if only by the smallest act.
No kindness is ever wasted.
What sights to wake up to, from my Australian team: first glimpses of my novel in book form. As in, a real book. That people can, like, hold. With their hands. That has paper pages. Printed with sentences I made up, in permanent ink. That can be flicked through. And sniffed. Really a book.
I need a lie down.
Monday, wildflowers. Here's to going for our dreams. With everything we've got. Step by step.
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother's tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.