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.
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.