The Hobart launch of The Latte Years a few months ago was not unlike a wedding - gathering in great excitement with my parents and siblings at the family home beforehand, with sparkling wine and hair and makeup preparations; a fancy car to take us right to the door; getting my photo snapped the minute I alighted outside Fullers Bookshop; speeches; even a CAKE (!); but most of all, seeing the faces of so many people I love and knowing they were all there to celebrate something very special.
Also like a wedding, it's amazing how suddenly you get so incredibly nervous, knowing that everyone's there because of you!
But it was wonderful, utterly wonderful, in every way. Like my wedding day, I'd do it all again tomorrow and wouldn't change a thing.
An aside: towards the end of 2004, as it began occurring to me that I needed to start at least trying to extricate the shit out of the blades of the fan that was my life, I joined a T.S Eliot appreciation group that met once a week at Fullers Bookshop in Collins Street, Hobart. I was the youngest person in the group, by about a quarter of a century, but I loved it. Our leader was passionate and inspiring, and it was rocket fuel for my brain that had been lying dormant since graduating from uni two years before. The discussions always ended in the Afterword Cafe, where we were given coffees and slivers of fudge. So to say it was surreal, just over 11 years later, to be back there launching my own book, is something of an understatement!
If you've ever been to Fullers, you'll know what an oasis it is. It's one of the world's loveliest bookshops, warm and comforting like a favourite relative's house, and smells like two of my most favourite things in the world - books and coffee. It was amazing to be there, and to see my book everywhere I looked!
My friend and one of my most favourite writers of all time (if you haven't read Mothers Grimm, go and get it now, it's amazing!), Danielle Wood, officially launched The Latte Years. She began by reading a poem very dear to my heart, Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", and these are a few of the very kind words that followed:
And then it was my turn to say a few words and, to be honest, I was quite overcome. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and love, for everyone in the room. A friend had flown over from New Zealand to be there, another from New South Wales, and another still had flown down from Melbourne that day as a surprise, and casually strolled into Fullers with her baby strapped to her back and into my gobsmacked, overjoyed and utterly overwhelmed arms. There were old friends there, some I've known for 30 years or more; family; former classmates, their partners and children; women who taught me in primary and secondary school; and even a handful of readers I had never met but who wanted to come and say hello (and I'm so glad they did!). It felt strange but unbelievably wonderful that this little book I had drafted and redrafted, smiled and cried over, alone in my study on the other side of the world was now out and being read. It was all now real. It had gone beyond a Word file on my Macbook and was now a real book. I was a real author. And I got to celebrate it by returning to where I'd come from, where the story began.
And then it was time to drink wine and sign some books. By the time we reached the end of the line, my hand hadn't been that sore since university exams in 2001, but it was totally worth it. I was told I had attracted a bigger crowd than Molly Meldrum! Ha ha.
One of the things I didn't anticipate writing a memoir is how INSANELY FUN it is when so many of your 'characters' show up to your book launch...including Sarah and Dave from Canada!!
Fullers were amazing - they even did this gorgeous window display which I couldn't get enough pictures of. Occasionally I stood on the pavement and just stared at it (and got curious stares in return!).
I know it sounds silly but I'm still having moments of OH MY GOD I WROTE A BOOK IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? and I have occasional moments of overwhelming pride and disbelief, when I see a picture of it being read somewhere, or my own copy on my shelf in my study, that I wrote that. It's still all sinking in, like I wrote in my last post.
Thank you again Fullers Bookshop and if you were there that night in Hobart, thank you for being a part of it. It was one of the happiest nights of my life.
Now how about a (virtual) piece of that amazing cake?