The long wait

When a mate of mine heard that my book was finally coming out in a few weeks, he emailed me with this:

“I’m looking forward to the arrival – it’s almost like a pending birth!”

I’m guessing he means that, as a first-time author, I must be feeling like an expectant mother in the final days of pregnancy. (He recently became a dad for the third time, so he probably has these things on his mind.)

So, do I feel like a heavily pregnant woman? Yes and no. I’m not suffering from colostrum leakage, bleeding gums, varicose veins or a protruding naval. (Rather glad about it, too.) On the other hand, I am showing signs of increased appetite, weariness, heartburn and clumsiness. But I’ll be honest: those were around way before this whole book thing kicked off.

Anyway, if we’re going to use a birth analogy when discussing my book, it should be that of an elephant, whose gestation period is twenty-two months. It’s been that long – twenty-five months, in fact – since I finished the manuscript and pitched it to my publisher. It subsequently took 10 months to get it to contract-signing stage, and 15 more months to be revised, printed, distributed and released.

Elephant reacts angrily upon news of delayed release date for first book

I think part of the delay is due to the subject matter itself: my book is about Sicily, where nothing happens (a few Mafia murders aside). If it were about a very timely topic, like China, or whether Kevin Rudd has the numbers for another tilt at the leadership, or Channel Nine’s decision to axe Excess Baggage, then I guess my publishers might have rushed it through.

Not that I care about a delay. What’s a couple of years? Mark Twain’s autobiography wasn’t published until a century after his death. And Charles Darwin spent almost a decade getting one of his books onto the shelves. It was a two-volume study of barnacles called A Monograph of the Sub-class Cirripedia, so I’m not even sure if it was worth the wait.

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