My book comes out in under three weeks, just over two, and time has become very strange and distorted indeed. I suppose it is because, no matter what stage I am at – looking at the beautiful page proofs, holding the first ever edition, reading my own reviews – I cannot quite believe this is happening. I have quite animated imaginary conversations with my past self, while I am in the shower and driving alone in my car. “You have a book deal with Penguin,” I tell 2008 me, bed bound and languishing and sick and not working but blogging every single day, voraciously, and neither of us can truly comprehend it.
My publication day is no longer on the horizon. It is almost upon me, like the globe has turned too quickly, suddenly. It has gone from oh, next year to March to next month and now it is so close I feel I can almost reach my fingers towards it and grasp it, only I am stuck on February the 18th and it is out on March the 9th and I cannot quite reach it, no matter how hard I try. And so I wait here, on February the 18th, looking at March the 9th, just over there, just a few sleeps away, but I cannot quite reach it, nor the things it will bring.
“How are you feeling? Are you excited?” acquaintances say to me. Am I excited? I think incredulously. No. Because it cannot possibly be happening. Not to me. Small me, who always wanted this, for her whole entire life. In my next shower, I tell my twelve year-old self about the Penguin book deal. She has just finished a book called Where Magic Is Possible, and she can’t believe it either.
“So next Monday we’re going to Liverpool,” my boyfriend said last night to me. We were walking from a restaurant called Stable to our car, parked fifteen minutes away in the Jewellery Quarter. The lights of the Town Hall were so bright they flared up into the sky like moonbeams.
“And then after that…”
“Stop right there,” I said.
“God, it’s two weeks away.”
“It’s not,” I said, trying to ignore it.
His hand was warm around me and he didn’t say anything more, though I suspect he would like to talk about what we’re actually doing that week. But I can’t. It has emerged from the distant future and into the now and – here it is. I am near to term, 38 weeks’ gestation, and waiting. I am a woman who is scrubbing her skirting boards without knowing why.
I could say my fear is because of the sales figures, or the hoards of strangers reading my book, or the people I know who will be reading it, and reading themselves into it, but I don’t think it is any of that. It is because I am – in just over two weeks – about to be thrust into something else. Into Other. From unpublished to published, and everything that comes with it. Those others things – they remain unknown to me. I am getting glimpses of them – reading about myself in Hello Magazine, for example – but they are becoming more obvious, like the glinting beginning of the sunrise, just over there.
It is Saturday the 18th of February and this morning I tidied my entire house, like I am nesting, and soon I will write two thousand words of my third book, and tonight I will go to sleep and I will be another day closer to it all happening. The windows are open for the first time in six months and it is slightly warmer, but that cannot be true because my book is a spring release, and it cannot almost be spring – it cannot, it cannot – because that would mean I am about to achieve my actual dream, and that cannot be happening. Not to me. No.