Glory be to God for dappled things.

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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.  
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4 Comments on Glory be to God for dappled things.

  1. Jim Murdoch
    January 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Before I started with all this online malarkey I never gave readers a second thought. Until Carrie came along I’d just shoved whatever I’d written in a drawer basically. I wasn’t even sending stuff out anymore. And it didn’t worry me that much because I was writing for me and as long as I was pleased with what I’d done then to hell with everyone else. I still feel pretty much the same. That said I always show Carrie whatever I’ve written and I like to get her rubber stamp of approval but I know when I hand her something it’s good because I don’t write rubbish anymore. I’m perfectly capable of it. I’m just quite good at recognising when something’s not going anywhere and stopping. Time’s too valuable to waste on writing rubbish.

    Since I’ve been online things have changed and I’m not sure I’m pleased with the direction they’ve headed. Now I’m aware of the existence of readers. I know that what I write is going—eventually—to get bound in a volume and sent out there to be judged and it’s hard not to think: Will my readers like this? That doesn’t mean I’ve thrown the towel in and started writing novels about sparkly vampires but knowing that what I’m writing is going to be read spoils things a bit. Not that I have had many readers. Apart from the first book I think more people have reviewed the books than bought them which is depressing because now my books are products with price tags and that’s really not how I want to think of them.

    You’re in a different position to me. You won’t be aiming to self-publish. A part of me wishes I’d made more of an effort to find a publisher but now I don’t have the energy. The problem with most publishers is that all they see when they look at a book is merchandise. And the bottom line is that your book is probably not going to attract huge sales. Unless they can figure out a way to market it. When you define yourself as a writer it somehow no longer satisfies when people praise you for the other things in your life you may be good at. From here you look like a great mum, making sure your daughter gets home and all that, but I imagine it’s tempting to devalue these other things because you suspect you might not be a great writer: If I’m not a great writer then I’m not a great person. I want to write ‘Rubbish!’ here but a part of me knows I’m right.

    I suspect publication for most people is a big let-down. They go along to the release party sip champagne, schmooze and bask in their five minutes in the limelight and then—NEXT PLEASE!—everyone moves on to the next topic of interest because there’s always something new and shiny in the wings ready to distract people. No point whinging about it; that’s life. I wrote a post a few years back about the shelf life of books and it’s scary short. You labour on a book for years but if it doesn’t perform and quickly then it get shelved (surely that should be unshelved?) and something else gets to have a go.

    Stopping writing is hard though. No book is ever finished. Not in that regard. I remember watching The Man Who Loved Women (the original and one of my all-time favourite films) and there’s a scene where the author is watching his book being typeset during which he asks the woman to change the colour of a dress, from red to blue if I remember correctly. I don’t think there’s one of us who wouldn’t do the same if we could get away with it. We’re not the judges once the book leaves us. It doesn’t have to meet our standards and it’s lucky that most people’s standards are nowhere near as impossible to reach as ours are.

    I’ll read your book. No matter how it reaches print I’ll read it. I may not be your ideal reader but then again I might be. You never know.

    Happy New Year by the way. I always forget about stuff like that.

    Reply
  2. awyn
    January 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm (3 years ago)

    Happy New Year Elisabeth! Keep writing.

    Reply
  3. Anthony Duce
    January 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm (3 years ago)

    Happy New Year to you too.
    As always, enjoyed the read..

    Reply
  4. Andrew
    January 2, 2014 at 12:47 am (3 years ago)

    A Happy New Year from me also.

    Reply

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