Last night, I attended a book launch. The writer is a friend of mine; we’re in the same writers’ group where we meet monthly to confer over extracts from our individual manuscripts.
The launch was great. I’ve been to a few launches before, but this one seemed a bit more special. And not just because he’s my friend. I think what made it zing was being in a room with about 200 people. Remember that? Remember socialising, drinking bubbly and nibbling canapes?
As I parked my car near the venue—a posh lawn tennis club—I fairly skipped along the footpath. Deep in the back of my mind, I was aware of a difference in my demeanour. In historic, pre-COVID times, I would battle with my inner critic while approaching a venue (particularly one so swanky), a nasty voice that asks questions like: am I dressed nicely? Do I look fat in this outfit? Is my hair OK? Does my breath smell? What if I say the wrong thing? But last night, there was none of that. Just pure thrill rising from the impending social connection.
I can’t tell you the joy I felt to be able to chat to people in a room instead of through a computer screen. Some of us even flouted new norms in favour of the old, more physical ones: a kiss on the cheek, a hug or handshake. God it felt good. Normal.
Towards the back of the room, I found my friend Lawrie, sitting at a table surrounded by people. He was already signing copies of his book. I walked over, congratulated him, and we chatted for a while on his nerves, excitement and the dream-like state he felt he was in. I then brandished my copy which he took and signed, along with a generous message that states—and I’m paraphrasing—he hopes to be a guest at a launch of my own.
If you’re interested, the book is As Swallows Fly, by L.P. McMahon. Support Australian writers and the publishing industry and buy a copy if you can: authors receive about $3 from a book that retails for $30.