The package felt oddly light, for all those years of work.
Oliver took out the camera to document the moment. But just as I tore open the packaging, the camera battery failed. I kept opening anyway.
And there it was: my first novel, with its beautiful cover of a woman improbably floating in a lake of icebergs.
The first thing I did was to check the dedication page, to make sure the dedication was still there, exactly as I’d written it, and it was. Oliver and I passed the book back and forth, exclaiming about this and that. I acted excited, I jumped up and down and hugged Oliver and showed the book to the dog, who sniffed it but did not seem impressed.
But I wasn’t sure how excited I actually was. I wasn’t sure what I felt. I felt too busy to take the time to feel anything: it was still the middle of my work day.
Later on, I lay on the couch alone in the house during a rainstorm. The book was on the coffee table next to me, amidst a pile of other books and magazines. Out of the corner of my eye I found myself checking to make sure my name was spelled correctly on the cover. It was.
Then I picked it up and began leafing through it. I came across a sentence that stunned me. I wrote that? Why on earth would I have written that? I flipped around until I came to one of my favorite sections, and started reading it out loud. That felt good.
Then I closed the book and stared out at the rain. That’s when the flood of feelings came. First, sadness. Why? At first I couldn’t place it. Then it came more sharply, a sense of longing for all my characters, for Freya and Birdie and Anna and Sigga and Stefan and Saemundur and Ulfur and even meddlesome Halldora. My People.
Then relief: I was really, finally finished. It was done. I didn’t have to do any more work on it, ever again. No more writing or rewriting or editing or proofreading.
Then, finally, came a real and deep pleasure: the thing I had created was here in the world, at last, in its final, physical form. I lay there for a long time, listening to the rain and feeling this strong, quiet thrill.
Happy Day! We went out to dinner to celebrate, and of course we brought the book with us, even though it was raining. We had a drink at the bar and I set the book down on the counter in front of me. Just a book, after all, out in the world for its first drink.