On November 1st my new book, For the Love of a Dog, will be officially launched into the world. I shall have a party, open some fizz, say a few words. Milestones must me marked or they slip through our fingers like time.
I like the word 'launch'. It is used to describe the promotion of anything these days, but for me it always summons the image of a ship, heaving into the sea after the pop and smash of champagne bottles, embarking on its very first journey alone, a bulk receding to a dot on the sky-line.
Books, like ships, take a lot of work before such a point can be reached. There's all the outer, structural stuff - the building materials, the production line, the forward planning. Publishers want products that are top quality, eye-catching and with the resilience to thrive. More vital still, is the toil and sweat behind the scenes, the writing, the crafting, the honing, all to ensure that the myriad component parts run as smoothly as they can. Invisibility of effort is the key. It is what takes most of the toil and sweat, often over years. Each creation is a combined product of learned knowledge and the pushing of new ideas. It requires trial and error, the willingness to fail. Endless patience. A lot of blind faith.
And sometimes, secretly, you love this toil too much to want to let it go. It takes a certain courage to admit the time for launch has arrived. Because, although you have tried your very hardest to create something that is the best version of itself, the world is wide, often cruel or indifferent, and nothing is sure. Oceans toss or cradle their occupants according to whim and weather. Your book might sink. Or maybe it will bob along, riding choppy waves like a doughty duck.
The main thing is to let it go. Dust off your palms. Shift your focus to a new horizon. That thing you made, with all its merits and failings, has started on its own journey. It is no longer yours.