And so, the big day arrives.
It’s been a while in the offing, since August 2009, but it’s most certainly been worth the wait.
Quite a bit has changed since then. We now have three children instead of two, live in a building with stairs of our own, drive a car with more seats that I ever thought I’d need. Oh and I’ve written a second book as well, or at least I’ve tried to. Agent and editor may yet disagree.
In some ways publication day itself doesn’t really mean much. The book has been in some stores since before Christmas, but it feels important to mark the date somehow, as it’s a big moment in many ways.
It’s twelve years this month since I worked my last shift in a children’s home, and for a long time I didn’t think I would find anything that would fulfil, challenge or make me as happy as those long shifts ironically often did.
What made it harder was leaving because I emotionally couldn’t do it any more, well, not without sending myself completely doo-lally.
For quite a while, whichever way I looked at it, I felt guilty, like I hadn’t finished the job off properly or was running away from it.
How bloody lucky am I then, to not only find something that I feel as passionately about (children’s literature), but to be able to use it to talk about the kids that I worked with.
I don’t believe in fate, nor want to slip into sentimentality, but there’s something so pleasing about this book coming out. It doesn’t offer closure or any such nonsense, but it does make me feel like the last twelve years without these kids in my life hasn’t been a waste. If anything it’s given me the headspace to get around to writing about them, in all their brilliant, flawed and feisty glory.
It is of course possible that this will be the only printing of ‘Being Billy’.
How many people will really want to read about the kids whose existence we choose to ignore?
To be honest, maybe all that doesn’t matter (although I’ll probably feel differently tomorrow!), for I have a penguin on my spine, and no bugger can ever take that away…..