Monday, 28 October 2019

"Without you, this book would not be"

The stretch between writing, publicly reading and launching a book is extensive. It mirrors the very differing states of being pregnant, talking about being pregnant, and actually giving birth.

And then.
Then there is the advertising, the marketing, the work of selling your book. This mirrors breastfeeding, burping, nappy-changing and generally doing all those things that your darling needs, in order to keep thriving.

If you had known exactly what was coming at you, you might not have chosen this route. Well, I should probably rather change that sentence into the first person. I might not have chosen this route.

But I had an ulterior motive: I badly wanted this baby. I wanted a beautiful, fat Heffalump. Did I know she would start walking the moment she was out? No.

Well - it has been a steep learning curve, giving birth to a herbivore: they really do stand on their own legs immediately. I have held for dear life onto her tail, as she has galumphed happily into the world, reminding me that I am merely human, while she ... is of another order altogether.

It's a beautiful thing. My wildest expectations have been exceeded. The Hogsback launch could not have gone better, my reading in Grahamstown was well-received, and next week there will be a launch at Exclusive Books in Cape Town.

However, the dramatic increase in social buzz, organising, online communications, meeting lovely people, autographing with special messages - all this boon has robbed me of sleep and of peace even during the daytime, as my mind sprints through the to-do list and my neglected creative soul sits and sulks.

Busyness has caused me to re-tick the boxes with my basic priorities: SOLITUDE, QUIET, DOMESTIC BLISS, LOVE/ INTIMACY, PERSONAL FREEDOM.

That is all very well. Yet I am responsible for my Heffalump, and I am responsible to the good people listening, reading, buying her.

So I have no choice but to balance the responsibilities, patiently and wisely.

As Walter Benjamin said, the work of art gives birth to the artist, who must reinvent herself.

And Norman? Where are you in all of this? You, whose face is represented now in the homes of all who've got the book, and whose spirit and quirks and moments with me are being perused and pondered?

Why do these questions bring a strange peace into me?

Something has been fulfilled that was waiting. It has all been worth it. Like Strandloop, which you inscribed for me as something that you could not have put together without me, Greater Matter could and would not be without you.

Norman's inscription in my copy of Strandloop

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