Years ago, in the days when most communications, other than over the telephone, came in the form of mail through the post, I received an unprepossessing post card, dolphins leaping through waves? Some friend on holidays had sent it, I imagined, until I read the words scrawled on the card.
Les Murray, who at that time was literary editor for Quadrant had decided to accept my story, ‘Hold on’ for publication in his magazine. No matter that Quadrant was renowned as a right wing magazine, I had finally had a story accepted for publication. I was a writer at last. A published writer.
It was official.
The pleasure of being published that day was more profound than for any publication since, but every time someone agrees to publish something I have written, I am filled with some of the same pleasure; short lived as it may be.
Anne Lamott in her book, Bird by Bird, writes about the way in which, until your writing is published, you imagine your whole life will be completely different, and better, for evermore after publication. And then it happens. Something gets published, but your whole world does not change.
At least, not simply because of the writing.
Our lives change, as inevitably as day follows night, but the changes come about through things other than writing, at least they have for me, and yet here I am stuck in this fantasy of wondering what it will be like once my book gets accepted for publication.
I pinch myself. My book is still not quite ready to send out. Nearly ready, but who will want it, if anyone?
That same dreaded fear of rejection; that same secret longing; that same hideous sense that someone will read my writing and say, ‘Sorry, no market here. Nothing of interest to the general public. Interesting perhaps, but not of interest to us.’
This morning as I hung out the sheets, I considered my wish that I be like Gerard Manly Hopkins. An English poet and Jesuit priest, he wrote for the love of God - as in his 1918 poem, 'Pied Beauty' with its fine first line: Glory be to God for dappled things - or so he believed, or would have us believe.
Publication was not within his desire. He wrote for the glory of God and given that God knew and read everything, Hopkins always had a ready and willing audience.
I can’t say the same for me. For my own writing. I have no God-like audience, only a few people who visit my blog and others unknown to me who might read my writing in hard copy or elsewhere online.
But if I can get this book of mine out into the published world, then life will be different – or will it?
I’m not quite at the age where I imagine that every new year that dawns might be my last, though of course it could be.
Last night at midnight we went outdoors onto our street, which sits atop a hill across from the city, to admire the fireworks.
We do this every New Years Eve, the highlight of our efforts at acknowledging the birth of a new year.
Our daughters laugh at us. It’s hardly inspirational to go out onto the street and dodge the trams of Riversdale Road and the few cars that flash by and honk their horns in greeting. But for us it’s enough.
The lights over the city were glorious, better this year for the weather I expect. A calm cool evening without even a gentle breeze.
I had also avoided too many drinks as I might sometimes do by way of New Years Eve celebrations as I needed to collect our youngest from a New Years Eve party in the wee hours of the morning.
As it was, she called me at three. Normally, she might catch a taxi but they’re hard to come by on New Years Eve, besides, she, like her sisters, hates to catch taxis when she’s the only one travelling.
Young women in taxis late at night are vulnerable and easy prey, especially if they have been drinking.
I decided I would rest easier if I could instead collect her from her party, even if it interfered with a reasonable bedtime post midnight on New Years Eve.
So I’m up late this morning, filled with a fresh desire to perfect my book.
Happy New Year to all my blogging friends.