On Friday last week I received a rather nice parcel from Lovely Lass at Walker Books - three copies of HIDDEN AMONG US by Katy Moran, which is a wonderful fantasy novel with scary faeries and beautiful writing that I'll be making a big song and dance about on the blog in March.
I'll be giving these books away to three lucky readers then. But in the meantime I had to find somewhere to put them, because as pretty as they looked on my coffee table, anything which is left there for more than a day ends up covered in animal hair, dust and probably some coffee-splashes too, just for good measure.
So I headed up to my study, copies of HIDDEN AMONG US in hand, to try and find somewhere safe to stow them until I'm ready to send them out. And as I was searching for any free space in my titchy-tiny little Writer's Cave, which is already crammed so full of books that my shelves appear to be smiling (literally. They curve downwards under the weight. It freaks me out a bit) I noticed something that I hadn't noticed - or, probably, just hadn't stopped to appreciate - before.
It was this:
|All the editions of every book that I've written|
That shelf is my life's work so far. That shelf is everything lasting that I have achieved and which will hopefully outlast me. That shelf is the embodiment of a dream that I had when I was a little girl curled up in the bottom bunk-bed reading Enid Blyton under the covers and which I clung to stubbornly through every reasonable objection and unreasonable obstacle that the world flung at me. That shelf is a defiance of every person who ever tried to scoff at my passion as unrealistic and everyone who ever tried to beat or taunt or mock or ignore the weirdness out of me.
And I thought:
'I'm OK with that. If I was to die, right now, just drop dead here in this room... I would be happy with that.'
Which was a strange and perhaps even morbid sort of thought to have. And which I immediately realised was factually wrong because, seriously, I need to write the final book of THE NAME OF THE BLADE. I'd be bummed if I kicked off from the mortal realm and left my trilogy unfinished. And I've promised everyone that Beauty-and-the-Beast-in-the-Moonlit-Lands story too. And I'd also like to write the one with the dragon shapeshifter and the science fiction one...
And in the meantime, there are a lot of books still to read. A lot of music still to listen to. A lot of recipes still to try out. A lot of places - new and familiar - that I would like to visit. And a whole bunch more people I'd like to meet. Maybe one day I'll even move into a nicer house and get another dog. In fact there all kinds of things still left for me to do, and which I'm really looking forward to doing.
But it wasn't a bad thought to have. In fact I think it was good to realise this important fact about myself: that right now, and for every moment of every day that I get up and walk through the world, from now until I Lindy Hop into the next world (whatever it is), I will be living as a person who has achieved what they set out to do. I have fulfilled the purpose I was born for. I have created and shared the art that I was uniquely fitted to create, by virtue of being exactly who I am and no one else. And, in however small a way, the world is now and forever a different place because I existed.
I wish there was a way to send a picture of this one shelf in my Writing Cave back in time to all the past Zolahs who cried and despaired and wondered and worked so hard and just didn't KNOW if any of it would ever turn out to have had a point. Because it did. And as much as I know there are so many other things I want to do and have and see and which will challenge and scare and exhilarate me in the years still to come, in that moment I felt something very special, which there is currently no word for in the English language.
If you'd like to get close, you can listen to this. It's long, but stick around. It's worth it: