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.
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.
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.
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.
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.