The words finally came to me early in the morning as I was making my first cup of coffee. It was a relief — comic relief — even, to finally put into words exactly what I was feeling. I was slightly amused at the ordinaryiness of what I’d landed upon for such an extraordinary moment in my life.
Those two words describe the emotion that best expresses how I feel about finally seeing My Vertical Neighborhood become a real book, with a cover, a binding, and all those pages in between.
When I received my copies of the book (my publisher kindly couriered 10 books to me as soon as they received them from the printer), I set the box on my kitchen counter and left it unopened for more than an hour while I tended to a work matter. Life does go on. Eventually, I opened the box, lifted out one of the books, held to my nose and smelled it. I think new books have a divine scent about them and I sniff every new book, not just my own.
I flipped through the pages, set it on the counter, picked it up again. “What am I feeling?” I kept asking myself. I imagined what I ought to be feeling – excitement, pride, anticipation, disbelief. But none of those words expressed the emotion I sensed within me but could not name. Eventually, I went to bed.
I love mowing the lawn. I love the way each pass with the mower shows me I’m making progress, and how at the end of the effort, a defined landscape stretches out before me. I think it smells divine. Mowing the lawn is one of my favourite outside chores. I can see the results of my work. It is deeply satisfying.
And that, I realized after a night’s sleep and a cup of morning coffee, was how I was feeling about having my finished book in my hands. I could look back on a job done to the best of my ability.
All the while I was working on My Vertical Neighborhood I called it my ‘book project’. It wasn’t yet a book. It was a project, something I had to keep plugging away at, asking for help with, writing and rewriting, pondering, changing. It took a lot of of passes down an unkempt landscape before the job was finished.
But it is finished. It is launching out into the world this month, being received by people, not as a project but as a book to be touched, smelled, and read.
That’s deeply satisfying to me.