When I was pregnant I read accounts of mothers who confessed it wasn’t love at first sight when they were handed their babes. It took time for them to fall in love, hours, days, weeks and for some, months. I’m glad I read that, because that’s how it happened for me. I had a beautiful pregnancy, an empowering birth and plenty of help afterward but when I held my son, put him to my breast, changed his nappy, held him for hours on end… there was nothing. No spark of the love I was expecting, not even the tiniest inkling of being smitten. I cared for him because he was my responsibility, he was tiny and helpless… and because I chose to bring him into this life. Babies, thankfully, don’t come with a returns policy.
What about the love, I kept asking myself, over and over, in the flicker of the TV late at night as I breastfed, in the few quiet moments I got in the shower and when ever I had the chance to string together a few thoughts of my own. Never admitting it to anyone other than myself.
About a week later, he was lying on the floor and from deep within, up welled the most overwhelming wave of love. It was so powerful it almost physically knocked me down. And I knew everything would be all right. I was head over heels in love… I was where I was meant to be.
100 Stories for Queensland is like that. I can admit it now because I’ve (as of about 4pm today) held the fruits of all our labours in my hand and felt the overwhelming surge. Prior to that moment, I’ve just felt numb, going through the motions because I said I would (duty is a damning thing), because I said so… because it was important.
When I ripped open the cardboard and held the book, I wanted to laugh, I wanted to cry and for a while there, I thought I might be able to simultaneously do both.
This project isn’t about me so I’ve kept Mum on it (I totally understand the use of that phrase now). Even now I don’t feel entirely comfortable confessing, yet I feel like I have to come clean. I feel like I’ve done a crap job.
I’ve watched projects collide and my hold on everything go. I’ve neglected my family and myself. I’ve struggled through depression the last six or so weeks, putting on a brave face, trying to do what I do best – edit and produce books – resenting almost every minute. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame… especially when you’re pointing at yourself. I’ve fought with myself to surrender to the process – to understand that the project chose me, not the reverse. Until now, nothing has really made much sense.
I’ve tried to understand why I feel this way and in all the soul searching I found myself asking the same question I did almost seven years ago: Where was the love? But this time I was asking: why haven’t I fallen head over heels in love with 100 Stories like I have done with every other literary project I’ve been involved in? Where did my passion get way-laid? What the hell was wrong with me?
I’ve been dreading doing PR, fearing the journalists would see straight through me. Worried the absence of passion and enthusiasm I felt inside would be visible on the other side. I didn’t want to be a sham, I wanted to be the real deal! I’m a shocking liar.
I apologise for all the emails I’ve ignored or haven’t replied to about PR.
Right now, and forever forth, it doesn’t matter. I feel it now. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s worth it. I’m enamoured. Thanks for bearing with me (even if you didn’t know you were).
Thank you to everyone who believed and invested in 100 Stories for Queensland, pouring their time, skills, passion and energy in. And thank you to everyone who has supported me in my role as administrator – especially Maureen, Trevor, David and Nick who made up the core management group, my partner Dave and my son Mr D who’ve ridden the tempest with their usual mix of non-chalance and hugs, and everyone on Facebook and Twitter – those who’ve dropped in with sweet, encouraging comments.
I’ve learnt so much about myself through this and I’m charmed to have had the opportunity to get to know a whole new bunch of talented writers – many of whom I hope to work with in the future.
I’m so proud to be part of 100 Stories. And I’m glad I’m drowning in the love! Now to take it to the world…
As it says in the book, just before you hit the first story – on the page where I always place a favourite quote: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to far, go together.