At 2.21 today I sent off my final proofread for ‘Mercy Street.’ It’s a bit like sending your baby off to school. Will the other kids like her? Will the teacher see how precious she is? Next time I see my book, it will be nestled between the beautifully designed covers. The rest is up to the readers.
On Tuesday I was ‘in conversation with’ Drusilla Modjeska at the Eltham bookshop. We were discussing her new memoir ‘Second Half First.’ It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to ask her some of the questions that arose from reading her wonderful book and she offered generous and thoughtful responses. Sadly, I couldn’t ask all my questions. There simply wasn’t enough time. She did speak about her involvement in a very worthy literacy program in New Guinea and for those interested, the website is www.seamfund.org
The author day was excellent. It was great to meet other authors together with illustrators, agents and Harper Collins staff. I learned a lot about the publishing business, some of it a fascinating insight into publicity and marketing. In our goodies bag was a colouring book and a little bundle of pencils. I'm told colouring in is good for relieving stress in busy people. There's a Catch 22 in there some where...
Going through my notes from Friday. One author described her young adult novel as 'Enid Blyton on steroids'. How good is that?
Good news. I received notification today that my story, ‘The Quality of Mercy’ won the SWAC Short Story Award and my poem Song of Fromelles’ was given an honourable mention in the same competition. It’s nice when all those lonely hours at my computer are recognised.
On Thursday, I met my editor, Catherine Milne, for the first time. Melbourne welcomed this Sydney visitor a deluge and a tram strike, but there was the Writers’ Festival to compensate. We talked until the coffee shop staff politely indicated that they were closing for the day. I had lost track of time and felt as though I had known Catherine for years, which I suppose in one way, I have. We go back to ‘Book of Lost Threads’ days (2009-10). So now I have a readers’ copy of ‘Mercy Street’ and confirmed publication date of 14 December.
My mother turned ninety-two today and we had a small family lunch. Her grandchildren are forming a queue to see her and her room is full of flowers. She’s even been adopted by the in-laws of all families. Great to be a matriarch. And at ninety-two she’s still doing the cryptic crossword.
I went to the Melbourne Writers' Festival today. The session included Graeme Simsion, Damon Young and Monica Dux. I could only drool when Graeme spoke about his sales figures.' The Rosie Project' is original and funny and he deserves all his sales. Damon is a philosopher who, apart from things philosophical, writes children's books.' My Nanna is a Ninja' is an intriguing title. Speaking as a nanna, it's good to see that some children's books eschew the nanna with walking stick and woolly grey hair. Monica Dux was warm, encouraging and funny, with lots of good tips for radio in particular. I enjoy her columns in The Age and was pleased to find she is as she writes.
I don’t know why this always happens. Just as my ms is due back for further work, I have an idea for a new book. Should I get started or wait until I finish with my proofreading? I might just write a few hundred words while the idea is still fresh. I’ve had a whole month since I last worked on Mercy Street and could have been happily writing while I waited. A well-weeded garden and a freezer full of soup is one consolation.