Sometime this week, I will be holding an actual copy of my first book, The 100+ Club presents Reminiscing. I can't even begin to describe the feeling. I've wanted to be a writer since I was little. But dreaming of writing my own book seemed too far fetched when I was younger and even more so as I got older.
But then in 2009 I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. Queensland Community Care Network, who runs the 100+ Club, decided to write a book about the members of the club. I was invited to present a proposal for my vision of the book. It came to me instantly. I saw history (Australian and world) presented in a chronological order with quotes in the centenarians' own words. I saw it as a book that was fascinating no matter what page you happened to turn to and that was full of wondrous photos from the last 100 years. With my cousin's help I created a presentation to sell my idea for the 100+ Club book. And I nailed it. My vision was shared by the QCCN board of directors and I was offered a role that involved me writing the 100+ Club book.
If this were a Hollywood movie we would cut to my first day of the job and how lost I felt. Deciding to write a book is one thing. Being given a deadline is quite another. The movie would show me floundering a little. It would show me staring at a blank computer screen with my fingers hovering, unmoving, above the keys. Finally it would cut to me meeting Ruth Frith, 100, for my very first interview. Ruth Frith would probably be played by Betty White and I would be played by Kate Hudson or a blonde Anne Hathaway, so just imagine that. Now we're laughing, and Ruth (Betty White) is telling me all sorts of funny stories from her life. It gets a bit awkward as we talk about sex, and Ruth tells me 'there was no... no, things to stop you from having babies back then.' We then have tea and cake and we laugh some more.
Now it's an 80s movie montage of Kate Hudson smiling and talking with lots of different centenarians. Three of them are probably played by Betty White in different wigs because let's face it, there aren't many actresses over a certain age. A highlight would be my interview with Ivy Bean in England (let's cast Judi Dench to play Ivy) and my brother (he can be played by Channing Tatum) acts as my official photographer. Cue Channing delivering an inspiring speech on the drive back to London about what an amazing job I have, how jealous he is and how inspired he was to meet Ivy (Yes, this really happened) and you're halway through this feel good flick.
But eventually we get to where I am now. My words are at the publisher. Someone has already hacked at them with a brutal editor's pen. The hardest part of the whole process of writing a book was handing my words over. I had worked hard on them. I knew that within myself. I gave everything to crafting a well-worded and flowing book. But could I have done more? Couldn't I always have done more? Finding the point at which I said 'yes, here is my book. I am finished' proved not just difficult, but impossible. Eventually, after months of stalling, my boss was forced to lay down a deadline. Hand it over on this date. I was doing edits and rewrites the night before. I imagine it was the same feeling parents get when releasing their children into the wide world. You'll never do it voluntarily, you have to be forced to do it.
And how do I feel? Well, frankly terrified. But, on the flip side, coming soon to a bookshop near you!
Miss SAMawdsley xx