This week, a box of books arrived in the Barnhill house. Two boxes, actually. I opened them up, and peered inside, and saw multiple copies of my book looking back at me, blinking their sleepy eyes.
Now, to be fair, I’ve been a basket case for a while. The time when I erased the ending over and over and over again, trying to get the thing to land right. The time when I poured over galley pages from sunup to sundown until my eyes were bloodshot and dry and my skin flaked away like dust and my soul became clouds and clouds and clouds. And I was a basket case when the first ARCs arrived in the mail. And when the art was finalized. And when they sent me the map. And when I knew that the first reviewers were holding my book, or pouring over my book, or ignoring it all together.
Mind you, we’re still well shy of the official release date – October 9 – but that doesn’t matter. There is a stack of VIOLET at the Barnes and Noble. I saw them. And then I ran away. Amazon has them at the ready. Any beloved indie bookstore can snag a copy – or ten – in a matter of days. If they don’t have them already.
Which means that my baby is in the world, and I cannot hold anything back.
I was hanging out with a bunch of other moms from the neighborhood last night. There was wine and cookies and book talks and a bunch of ladies dishing about god-knows-what, and I brought a copy of the book to show them. These are women whose kids play with my kids, who show up at neighborhood functions with caprese salads and noodle bakes and bars. These are good, good women. Anyway, they asked me if I was excited.
“No,” I said. “I’m terrified. I feel vulnerable and hopeful and frightened and exposed. It’s not a pleasant feeling.”
They were amazed at this and somewhat flabbergasted, so I clarified. “You know that moment when you’re in labor, and your clothes have been taken away and you’re wearing one of those flimsy hospital gowns, and your feet are in the stirrups and your rump is facing the door and about fifty-seven people have been in and out of the room in the last fifteen minutes, all with an unobstructed view of your nether regions?”
Tight grimaces all around. Yup. They remembered.
“Well, it’s just like that.”
“Oh, honey,” they said.
And then they gave me wine. God bless them.
Violet – the girl that I struggled with and fussed over; the girl who inspired fits of tenderness and exasperation; the girl who haunted my dreams for months and months? She’s gone now. She’s gone from me. And I never get to have her back. And that, my friends, is a mournful thing.
Still, it means that she belongs to more people than just me. She belongs to the reader. She belongs to the library. She belongs to the classroom and the after school center and the back seat of the station wagon on a road trip to Lubbock. She belongs to you. And the kid next door. And the world.
Godspeed Violet. Godspeed Demetrius. Godspeed Cassian and King Randall and Auntie and Moth and Nod. Godspeed Dragon and even the Nybbas. Godspeed to you all. I’ll miss you.