Friday, 6 September 2019

The business of a book

What with a chest of drawers stuffed with decades' worth of manuscript material, you decide finally to produce a book. A real book. With a publisher and an ISBN number and proper binding and marketing strategies for a wider readership. Because that's what you know in your heart must happen with this mere tip of an iceberg of words you've built up over a lifetime: the tip, at least, must be shared, somehow made accessible, somehow find the eyes, the heart or hearts that need them.

But you did not think, did you? You did not think that writing over a lifetime in no way qualifies you to enter the business world. You are not a businesswoman. You fear business. You fear technology. You have no experience.

But you've come this far. The book exists. You hold it. You love it.

To turn back now would be more difficult than to keep going. You can't see where you're going. Kind people, good people help you. The steps are infinitely slow. You tell yourself that this is not who you are, you are an ageing woman wanting grandchildren, wanting to sing them songs, you want quiet and to do the dishes and re-fill the bird-bath.

The people you love, who are close around you, are - many of them - stressed. Some are ill. Some are disabled or crippled, whether temporarily or permanently. All are in pain of one kind or another. All are making huge, constant efforts to do their best, to keep smiling.

There are other people around you, whom you are not close to, who are killing each other, hurting one another, speaking in ugly ways.

Some of the braver people you know post calls to, write open letters to the president, crying out their anguish about the painfully ugly words and deeds of the others.

While so many are hurting and distressed, you take down and fold washing, you make salad and ask your nephew, "Can you show me how to take a screen shot?"

Because you know you must stay calm. The way the crew on a ship like the Canada Maru must stay calm in the midst of a violent storm; the way it must sail on - whether or not there is a boy with white legs, falling out of the sky.

And you walk blindly - so you feel - through the darkness with your book, letting it be your lantern.

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