Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The last two weeks have left me depleted. It's partly the weather--we've seen nothing but heavy, flight-cancelling fog and a steady rain that varies from constant drizzle to Biblical downpour. Our version of fair weather is when it's only foggy with a medium strength wind from the Northeast.

Okay, so much for the weather report. Mostly, I've been running on adrenaline for the past few months. I mentioned to the publisher's assistant yesterday--and she totally gets it, I'm sure--I've been constantly in hurry-up-there's-a-deadline mode since before Christmas. Of course, the deadline kept getting moved and it reached the point several times where we would just aim for the the next one. But it's hard to stay "on" for that long, constantly, 10-12 hours a day all through the cold bleakness of winter, the frozen bleakness of spring, and the rainy, foggy bleakness of early summer without getting a little tired, both physically and psychologically.

Not that I'm down or anything. It's mostly physical at this point.

My birthday was yesterday. See, I've never been a big fan of birthdays. Mostly, over the years, I've just moped and wished it was over. I don't actually think about getting older, so it doesn't bother me in any major way. It's the necessity of staying "up" for other people--answering the same, tired questions about whether you feel any older, accounting for how you spent that day, and the phone calls from well-meaning relatives who don't seem to understand that if you really wanted me to be happy on my birthday, you'd just put the phone down and back away from it.

This blog entry sounds pretty grumpy, I admit. But I really don't feel grumpy. Yesterday, I spent most of the day waiting to peruse and approve the final printer's proofs for Finton Moon, with an eye towards a release date later this month. If all goes well, it will be available for sale June 16 at St. John's Chapters and Coles, when I show up at those stores for Atlantic Author Day booksignings. I might even have a few copies with me when I go to my hometown on June 14 to speak to the Placentia Area Historical Society (open to the entire community). Yesterday, however, it was too foggy at St. John's airport for the plane to land, and so the FedEx package holding the proofs were sent back to Montreal. Likewise, today. But things are still on track. It's just been a lot of waiting. I did spend yesterday afternoon reading the proofs from a secure website and, I must say, I am extremely pleased with the outcome. Finton Moon looks very good to me. Creative Publishers have done a fantastic job of putting it together, and Todd Manning has come up with a beautiful cover.

Here's the front cover:

And here's the entire cover, including the back and spine:

So, yeah, the birthday thing wore me out. When I got home last night, I just couldn't muster much energy.

But here's the thing. In years past, I haven't really liked birthdays. Sure, I've managed to enjoy them, some more than others. But birthdays have never made me feel celebratory so much as cerebral: I tend to be philsophical on my birthday, putting my life in perspective, trying to figure out what it's all about. I know--that can be a downer, but I honestly don't approach it that way. Birthdays just make me think, that's all.

Well, yesterday, I started out in a happy, peaceful mood and it just continued all day, even when I was waiting on proofs, then working on the computer proofs, and even when the plane couldn't land. No big deal. Sure, I was tired, but I find that, as time goes on, I'm becoming a lot more at peace with my world and everything in it. No fretting the small stuff, or even the big stuff.

The events of the past fourteen months have had a lot to do with that. For most people, it's hard to grasp that someone could spend more than two decades of their life pursuing a single goal or dream even with the possibility that that dream might go unattained. That was always a possibility and, in recent years, even appeared (to some people) to be a probability. And then, it was one thing to be published--and quite happily, as I really have enjoyed every moment of it--but quite another to receive a major award for that "first" book. As a result, I feel more at peace, more confident, more accepting of who I am and have always been than I ever have in my life. Even as a child I never felt this secure about my place in the world, about what it all means, where it's all going. (I'm not sure anyone really wants me trying to answer those questions, so I'll refrain from sharing my epiphanies, at least for now.) But yesterday, my birthday just felt different than ever before. And that, I assure you, is a good thing. I answered every single email I received--and there were a lot, for which I'm more grateful than you can imagine. I answered every ringing of the phone and was quite cheerful about it, and, amazingly so, genuinely glad to talk to people. Sure, it left me feeling exhausted at the end, but that's the way it goes. No real hardship.

Today, I've been on the phone with Pam, the publisher's assistant, who is an amazing, tireless soul who--much to her credit--never lets on that I can sometimes be a huge pain in the arse. She's trying to set up a time, date, and venue for the book launch. There are details to be sorted, but mostly not by me. Finton Moon is finally out of my hands. Nearly thirteen years in the making--this most recent version about which I'm madly excited to be releasing into the world has been more than 5 years in the writing.

And that, my friends, gives me a great sense of peace, calm, and joy. The story has finally been told right, and young Finton is finally getting his voice heard. It will be tough letting him go now after spending every day with him for so long, so often on my mind, so constantly needing my attention and nurturing. And now he's heading out on his own. Well, good luck to him. I'm on to the next story.

But I'm really looking forward to having a new book to talk about for the next little while. Moonlight Sketches has been fun, and it's done wonderful things for me and my career. But leaving it to the side for a while is part of my own growing up as both a person and a writer, I suppose. I'm no longer the rookie writer, but the rookie novelist. After that, I can drop the whole underdog schtick and just get on with it. Sure, I'll always feel like the underdog--mostly because of the circumstances under which I grew up and then made my way through the world. It's been a long journey to get here, and I ain't goin' anywhere for a while--just sitting my butt in the chair day after day and writing the next story that needs to be told.

Meanwhile, I have some mementos of the past couple of weeks and the Atlantic Book Awards to keep me warm (photos courtesy of the generous Peggy Walt). Thanks for reading. I hope you'll forgive my tiredness and the subdued tone of this entry. But I felt like I had a few things to say. Yep. Time to move on.

The Ches Crosbie and Amy House show--great chemistry. Amy
House was the perfect host for the evening.

I was in shock when my name was announced as the winner,
so I didn't even see this on the big screen at the time.

Ches Crosbie and I shared a couple of laughs. He has a great
sense of humour... not to mention being generous enough to
sponsor the 2012 NL Book Award (covering two years of
fiction writing in this province.)
My acceptance speech, in which I thanked just about everybody
I ever knew. Everyone should have a moment like that at some
point in their life. I mean, I had a lot of people to whom I was grateful.
(Here, I think I was saying, "Look at the size of Kevin Major's book!"
compared to mine and Patrick Warner's--both of whom wrote amazing
books, I should add. You wouldn't go wrong by reading them.)

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