The worst is over

I did not freeze up at my book launch, as I had feared I might.

From the moment I walked through the double doors of Readings book shop and down towards the section where they had pushed aside the CD stands to make room for people, and thereby created an open space, with a row of chairs to one side around a central pillar and to the other side a mock bar from which they served wine, I felt at ease.

From the moment I walked past three women seated to one side, one of whom I recognised as an old school friend from over forty years ago and the other two, also old school friends, the atmosphere became one of fun, family and friendship.

Photo Lee Zelda Hunt

Mike, event organiser from Readings, when I had met him earlier in the week to discuss logistics, told me Readings look upon book launches as a reason to party and that was the spirit he aimed to inculcate.

Photo Russell Davis

And so it was: one jolly party interrupted by two speeches only, my own and that of Gerald Murnane, who as Mike quipped to me later, gave us all a short Master Class on literature.

Photo Nada Lane

To me it was Gerald Murnane at his best, witty, oratorical and sincere.

His talk set the mood and made it easy for me to have my five minutes worth and then my dear friend, Nada Lane, whom I had asked – or had she offered – to be master of ceremonies even managed to stoke a few questions from the audience before we went onto that strangest of strange experiences, the book signing.

I signed Gerald’s copy first and he said something to me about how the tables had turned. Usually, it was he seated there at the black table cloth covered signing table looked over by the person – me –  who had just bought his book and was eager for him to sign.

Now it was my turn.

I had dreaded this part of proceedings.

My handwriting tends to the illegible and I imagined myself fumbling for names but it went well and one person even remarked on my beautiful handwriting.

Never, not even in childhood when I tried hard, has anyone ever told me my handwriting is beautiful and I lapped up that moment along with many others.

Photo Russell Davis

For now, I’m relieved to know it’s over till the next time, next weekend when I join another four people among others at a Gala book launch in Brisbane to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Interactive Publications, my publisher.

This will be easier.

Usually, I prefer to share the limelight, to dip in and out of the glare.  To take my turn and then hurry back behind the scenes.

Always, I prefer to be here behind the scenes writing to you out there, the words on the page, the actual stars.  When I can get them right.

Good news at last

We’ve had one of those weekends that rock you.

All on the go. Birthday parties and visits from an overseas daughter, and my husband now early Sunday morning, travelling in his brother’s ute to collect a son in law’s parent’s no- longe-needed washing machine and take it from Keysborough to Kensington – a hike across the south eastern suburbs through town along the freeway, and then tomorrow morning an early dash to the airport along that same freeway in the other direction, to take the daughter back to her current home in Japan, and then life might settle down once more.

In the meantime, my head’s dizzy with it all.

I’m worried about my heart rate. Apparently it’s too slow, the heart rate of an Olympic athlete, the doctor told me, but given I’m nothing like an Olympian, a complete anomaly.

When we discovered this low heart rate, as low as thirty six beats per minute – I understand most people come in around sixty – I had no symptoms such as dizziness or fainting. But now, every time I find the slightest hint of a swirl in the brain, wobbliness in my feet, I imagine the dreaded low heart beat, in which case the doctor told me I might need a pace maker.

An echocardiogram of my heart last November when I was still in hospital over my broken wrist revealed nothing, so my slow heart rate remains an anomaly.

But now I have a new source for hypochondriasis. I fret whenever my head feels anything other than its usual steady self.

Bodily complaints are standard for people who are getting older and ever so boring, except for the person who’s so afflicted. Interesting perhaps for people who share a similar decline but otherwise too far off the mark for liveliness.

I have an academic friend who’s putting up excerpts from Andy Warhol’s diary daily on her Facebook feed.

Fascinating stuff because we know it’s the great Warhol but if we didn’t know that I suspect his trips to the supermarket and encounters with so and so, and thoughts about this and that would be as boring as my description here.

The good news is Interactive Publications have agreed to publish my book later this year.

I had planned a loud megaphone call out to everyone with this good news but it’s funny now that I’ve signed the contract, my sense of the journey ahead causes me to settle and reflect on the need for quiet.

Though in this lifetime with so many loud and competing voices, I probably need to shout about it.

Still I find myself imagining something might come between me and this book even yet.

This book that started as far back as 1995.

That’s a long time in the writing. This book has seen as many incarnations and there have been many years between.

In essence, it’s the story of my childhood, the life of a girl who spent most of the time waiting for her turn to come, her turn to recoil under the weight of her father’s fingers, alone in the dark, a girl who then learned to hide, to become invisible, to disappear.

Disappearing and trumpeting your existence are antithetical notions, so I will need to adopt a few different personae to get my way across the world stage of writing.

It might well be fun but it’s also a little scary. Enough to slow my heart.