Holy mother of all things sacred and vulnerable: THIS. A snippet of the text my publisher sent me in response to my final edits.
I read it, I walked in circles, I read it again and I curled into a red-hot, relieved, grateful mess. I've been in bed sick ever since. Stress is a strange thing, indeed.
When I was writing my book and it was still solely mine, before it had been offered to publishers, I was beyond terrified of sharing it. My fella and I talked often about how to balance writing a story from so close to the bone with the fear of its unknown fate - will it be published?! - and of failure - if it gets published, what if it tanks? We talked about the importance of managing such sickening fear with gratitude and courage: showing up, because that’s what we control, and being grateful for every scrap of luck and timing that falls in our favour. Because nothing is a given. As mortifying as it is, life doesn’t owe us anything. All we can do is cultivate gratitude for every morsel we get along the way, and remember that our creativity and every form it manifests in is not everything. Or, rather, it's everything but it's also nothing at the same time. Keep things in perspective; one foot on either tipping point of the seesaw.
Nearly a year ago, one of my writing sisters emailed me something profoundly beautiful, introducing me to Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running:
“‘Basically I agree with the view that writing novels is an unhealthy type of work. When we set off to write a novel, when we use writing to create a story, like it or not a kind of toxin that lies deep within humanity comes to the surface. All writers have to come face to face with this toxin and, aware of the danger involved, discover a way to deal with it, because otherwise no creative activity in a real sense can take place. (Please excuse the strange analogy: with a fungi fish, the tastiest part is the portion near the poison – this might be something similar to what I’m getting at.)…’
So, the tastiest part is near the poison.
The trick seems to be, get in and before you swallow the poison, then get out. It requires the stealth of a fox.
I’m sure it’s in you!"
So. Here we are. I did the thing I've been most afraid of with this book, I went as close to the poison as I could without getting poisoned. And, THE WORLD DID NOT END. Because, everything and nothing. Most of all, I went back in again and wrote from the heart, from the sore place we have inside all of us, and though I got sick from stress and fear AFTERWARDS, my words have rung true in someone else. Connection. Connection. Connection. Fuck. YES.
Here's to squeezing every drop and pip of wonder out of every scrap, wildflowers. Here's to never giving up.
Thanks for being in the arena 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.