Friday, December 17, 2021

A year with The Sorrow Stone: Week 1

A Year With The Sorrow Stone?

It probably sounds a little odd to title a diary this way, as being with a book. But over the coming year I am going to accompany my new work The Sorrow Stone with weekly notes that mark out a kind of dual progress (one hopes) - of the book and of my understanding of it.

I think this week is good moment to start, for it marks the end of one process and the beginning of another: from manuscript development to the life of the book in the world. Its own life. 

Over the course of the last few days, the final edited version (the 'print proofs') has been approved by my publisher to be sent for printing. At the same time, a first public engagement, an in-conversation event at Brisbane Powerhouse Theatre, has been announced. 

And yet it is also still two and a half months until the book will be available for sale.

This leaves me and it in an in-between space, in which the story (in advance copies) is circulating among bookshop owners, publicists, distributors, reviewers, and events organisers, but is yet to be 'released', or allowed completely out of my hands and into the reading lives of others, where it will suddenly mingle with all the other millions of books that are stored in people's minds. It will have its own conversations - to borrow from Umberto Eco's idea that books speak to each other.

And so, I find myself feeling restless and a bit nervous. I tell myself to stop thinking about this book and begin work on something else. Shift my attention. The writing is done, after all. My biggest part in the life of the novel is over. But that's difficult, because I'm also waiting, waiting, and starting something new is like trying to speak to someone when you're about to leave for a train or a bus or a plane. 

I'm suspended between finishing the book as mine, and seeing it belong to others.


Outside, it's fiercely hot and humid. At seven, I walked to the local bakery to buy a croissant, and came home dripping with sweat. Maybe it isn't even croissant weather anymore, and I should be eating fruit and yoghurt. Because there's been so much rain in Brisbane this spring and early summer, the morning light seems to have some green in it, as well. 

I walked past a line-up of cars at the local Covid testing station, in the car park of a church. Now that the Queensland border has re-opened to interstate visitors, they say we'll have many more cases. People are waiting for that to happen, and to see what it will mean.


The movement from waiting to knowing, or rather seeing differently, is what I'm tracing now, as well. As I finish here, I open another document with a story that supposedly has nothing to do with Disa and hers. It's about me when I was a young man travelling in Europe. The next project. But Disa is present there, as well, for that's when I started reading more seriously, and I read the sagas, alongside novels and history and philosophy - whatever I could find in hostel bookshelves or was given by fellow travellers. 

That's when I first met my main character in The Sorrow Stone, and wondered about the choices she'd made, in her life of waiting and realising.