I am getting very excited!
Oh dear. I’ve just broken one of the golden rules we learn on our MA courses; show, don’t tell. Well, sometimes rules have to be broken and today I am going to do ‘telling’ – mainly because I don’t want to give you a mental picture of a short, middle-aged, Rubenesque woman doing a happy dance in her PJs. You don’t need to see that on a Saturday afternoon. It didn’t work, did it? Sorry!
So why am I so excited? Because earlier this week I held a book in my hand. That’s not the exciting bit. I do that several times every day and sometimes it is quite thrilling, but not like this. This book had my name in it. I have many books at home with my name in them. I write it inside the front cover of a book before I lend it to a friend, in the hope it might make its way back home to me. This book wasn’t one of those. This had my name in print.
I was holding a printer’s proof of Litmus 2015, an anthology of writing by students on the MA Creative & Critical Writing and MA Writing for Children courses at The University of Winchester. It still needed revisions and corrections before the final print run, but I didn’t care. To see my name in the table of contents, the beginning of my story in the body of the book and a brief biography all about me in the back pages was staggering. My breathing went wobbly, my skin clammy and I felt a tiny bit sick. A thing I had dreamed of, the result of hours of work, something I though of as happening at some time in the murky future, was in my hand and it didn’t seem real.
When other students wanted to take it from me, I found it hard to let it go. Then I saw their faces as they turned the pages, looking for their own names. If I hadn’t been feeling so sideswiped I would have taken out a pad and made notes about their reactions. What a wonderful resource it would have made for future writing: the changes in skin colour, breathing, body language, facial expressions. Some students disappearing into a land that only contained them and the book, others holding it out to share with the whole world.
As I said, the inside of the book still has some work to be done, so I can’t share that with you, but I can show you the beautiful cover. I hope you love it as much as we do – although, admittedly, we may be just a wee bit biased. Welcome to the cover of Litmus 2015. Hope to see you at the launch!
Kim A Howard
MA Writing for Children