Paper and Glue

There is a sweet moment in the life of any new book.

You know it's coming. You have seen the proofs. You have seen the cover art, too. You know every word inside. But you have never seen them joined.

Then one day, perhaps a warm and sunny Wednesday, someone from the postal service arrives. Perhaps they knock on your door. A brown padded envelope waits to be opened. You pull the ribbon that frees the book and your lungs, your heart and head all inhale, nearly gasp. Here is this thing. Here, if you are honest, is everything. All you believe about ordinary and sacred time.

Tomorrow you can worry. Tomorrow you can worry about sales and marketing, bookstores and social media. Tomorrow you can deal with the fear which whispers the news that every word you have written is common, that no one will be moved, that you have nothing to add to the grand tradition that kept you awake and reading as a child until 4:00 a.m.

Today, though, your book is the newest child. Bright and glossy. Capable of anything. As far as the world is concerned, it's not even in a warehouse yet. No one outside the private world of printer and publisher has seen the way the sparks in your brain have become paper and glue. You turn it over, fan the pages, just look more than read. Here is you outside of you. Here is you, given as a gift for others.

Yes, the lady from the postal service came to my house today. She had no idea what she was carrying, which is fine. Her truck holds more hopes and fears, each one sealed against weather and loss, than I can imagine. I inhaled, then signed my name to receive my work. For the next few weeks, no one will see this book except the people my arms can reach.

After that, who knows.

Today I have a new book. Bright and glossy. Capable of anything. Yes, there is a sweet moment in the life of any new book. And today, a bright and warm Wednesday on the northern prairie, that moment is here.