On finished copies & advice to my past self

Yesterday my book became real. It doesn't exist just in my head any more, or as an attachment in an email between editors and copyeditors, or as a pile of papers on my desk bristling with rainbow coloured post-it notes. 

I can hold it and see it and stroke it and smell it and cry over it: and I did all those things last night, as well as toasting its safe arrival with a glass of fizz. 

Yesterday I got news that the courier had delivered advance copies to the DFB sales director, who lives in my town. His wife had kindly unpacked them and had four copies ready for me yesterday evening. So I drove through Hebden Bridge's quiet streets last night, past the library and up the hill, feeling my excitement build. 

I had a sudden flash of memory, as I passed the library. I could almost see the ghosts of my past self: nine-year-old me, twelve-year-old me, fourteen-year-old me, walking into the library each week, each month, steadily working through the children's shelves, and then the teenage fiction shelves, back when it barely had a name. 

And I want to whisper through time, into the ear of that girl: 'Keep reading. Don't give up.' Because in the end, that seems like the best advice for any writer.

Decades later, two novels in the drawer later, here I am, with this brand new book in my hands, feeling very lucky and very grateful. 

Keep reading. Don’t give up!