When I first held you

Fifteen years to the day since I first held my real-life baby, I held, for the first time, my brand new baby. Yes: the advance copy of my debut novel, posted last Friday from my publisher in Australia, arrived in today’s mail. Lena has landed in New Zealand.

I’m feeling a lot less exhausted today than I did fifteen years ago, even though I’ve been carrying this bouncing baby book for a whole lot longer than nine months. There’s a similar sense of wonderment though, of astonishment — did I really produce this?! — and, yes, I’ve had a bit of a weep today, too. I’ve gazed at it, as we gaze at our babies; I can’t stop looking at it, thinking this is mine. I’ve inhaled its lovely smell, and I’ve tickled its perfect pages (its ten perfect ickle…no, wait…312 perfect ickle pages).

And I’m filled with thoughts and dreams of its future, wondering what its path in the world will be. I want people to like it, to love it, to understand it, to invite it into their homes; I want them to want it to be part of their lives. I imagine people asking me — as they do when you pop out a real-life baby — if there’ll be another, or if that’s it. Yes, I’ll tell them, there’ll be another; I’m working on it, I’ll say, with a nudge and a wink.

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