This week I held an ARC of Starting from Here for the first time. A friend picked it up at Book Expo America and brought it for me to sign.
The experience was strange and powerful. There was a lot of stuttering and stammering as I flipped through the pages and was struck by both familiarity and alienation at once. I recognized the words, but printed and bound they no longer exactly felt like mine. “It’s so real,” I kept repeating, as if it hadn’t been before, when it existed only as an electronic manuscript. “It’s so real. It’s surreal.”
I can’t say if the analogy between childbirth and publishing a book is a fair one, because I haven’t given birth. But having held that ARC, I now viscerally understand why that comparison is so frequently made. For so long, it lives only inside of you, as a part of you. Then it enters the world and is divorced from you, its own entity. What do you know? Everyone was right about that.
Meanwhile, life goes on at the library. School is out, and Summer Reading Club has begun. The library swarms with kids and families. Yesterday, some middle schoolers asked for blank paper. Several hours later, I found their own publishing effort, forgotten on the reference shelves. To save myself from getting too philosophical, I give you Buddy’s Truck, a Bobby Book.*
That, folks, is a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Moreover, I appreciate the way it bucks gender norms. Well done, Renee, Helen, and Charlie, and best wishes in your future publishing careers.
*Yes, that is a direct reference to the Bob Book readers. I overheard them planning.