My edits are done. I finished on the weekend, and sent my reworked manuscript back to my wise and intuitive publisher. “You know it is good, I know it is good, and anything else can be fixed. Just press send, and let it all go. I will be here to catch it.” She is incredible.
Pressing send felt victorious, and terrifying. I have to remind myself I’ve never been through the publishing process before; I had no idea this is what went into making a novel. I constantly catch myself looking at my bookshelves in renewed awe. This process affirms my belief that books are magic.
Another kind of magic that’s awed me lately is timing.
One of the settings in my novel is an Australian flower farm called Thornfield. On the weekend, after I sent my manuscript off, Sam and I were looking for local places to find a spot of spring sunshine. We’ve lived in this area for nearly six years; on Sunday I discovered that 3k away sits Thornfield Park on Thornfield Road. I’d not known either existed.
Yesterday was sunny, but 6 degrees with 50k/h wind gusts. Nevertheless, I headed out for a run. While I was running, I thought about where I learned to do this, to run into the wind. I didn’t have to think hard. It was my mum. My beautiful mum taught me how.
While I was running, my feet seemed to know where I was going before my head did: I ran on Thornfield Road through gutters filled with cherry blossom petals, through the gates of Thornfield Park. Afterwards, I seemed to fly home. Despite tender knees and tired muscles I ran 8k, a distance I haven't run in a year, at least.
On my cool-down walk I remembered the first time I ran 8k: I was 9, the age Alice Hart is when her story starts. It was a family fun run; my mum patiently encouraged me to keep running, to be brave, and to let myself enjoy the thrill of the process and my achievement, despite the vivid fear I remember having of the unknown distance.
This morning, I read something by Leah Kaminsky that took my breath away. "If trauma can trickle down through generations, then so too, hopefully, must love, and that is where the true hope lies." Throughout this process, all sorts of fears are powerful and ever-present. It's been love and hope though that have enabled me to break the back of a story I’ve been too scared to write for years. And if I know anything, it’s that living in fear is my life wasted.
Thank you for cheering me on every step of the way towards the finish line. I am so grateful. Onwards we go.
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.