Maurice Saxby mentorship Day 1

           Today I became a butterfly.

 After a seeming eternity of writing, striving, giving up – starting over, taking courses, submitting, getting rejections, giving up and starting over again, at long last I can call myself an author. No longer the under-achieving caterpillar – today I spread my wings and it felt great!


No matter how much self belief you can muster, how many times you tell yourself I write, therefore I’m a writer – it’s not until you hold that magical first book in your hands that you feel able to say ‘I’m an author’.


(*Disclaimer: To all you struggling writers out there – and that includes you my dear mintees – your cocoon is showing!)
So my first book Ferret on the Loose was launched today at the opening of the Literature Alive festival. It was launched by the Stonnington Mayor Matthew Koce. Not only had he read my book but he’d enjoyed it – waxing lyrical about the adventure, mystery, humour and life lessons.


Me pretending to sign a book while grinning (oh and that’s Nipper)
He did mispronounce Gallagher – we have a silent ‘g’ in the middle which certain members of the family are adamant about (I’m one). The other members of my family, the ones who don’t insist on the g, feel irrationally embarrassed by those who do. As I stopped to correct the Mayor, I could see my brother in the audience flush and role his eyes. I don’t care. It was my moment in the sun and hey, my grandmother would’ve been proud! About the g that is, not sure what she’d make of me writing a book for kids about ferrets.


But I digress. I had to say a few words and while I’ve become a little bit more relaxed about public speaking in recent years, I was still pretty nervous. In my mind’s eye, the launch would’ve been to a hall packed with kids. I’d bought a gorgeous ferret puppet to aid ‘my show’ and vaguely contemplated studying up on ventriloquism. I did google ‘tips for stand-up comedians’ but this didn’t prove a very learning experience.


The audience for the launch was actually composed of big wigs from the City of Stonnington, the National Education and Employment Foundation (NEEF) and the Children’s Literature Australia Network (CLAN). I had attracted a handful of friends and family but 2pm on a weekday was not a great time to draw people in – workers at work and Mum’s not left with enough time to get to school pick-up.


So, by this stage, feeling quite jittery, I began – starting with the correction of my name and followed by mucking up the acronym for CLAN – the dear people who awarded me the Maurice Saxby mentorship in the first place. So far so bad! Perhaps I had a premonition that I would stumble in the beginning because I had the (somewhat genius if I do say so myself) idea of keeping my ferret puppet hidden behind a screen. As I blundered, I asked the audience to excuse me a moment, ducked behind the screen and came out with ‘Nipper’ to help with my nerves. After that things went relatively smoothly. I told the story of how I’d come up with the idea for the book – conveniently stemming from an interview I’d done with a ferret-owning girl while working on the Prahran local paper.      


The funny thing was the ferret was named Basil – coincidently the same name as the head of NEEF. I hadn’t realised this until I said it and it caused a little titter. But of course, Basil – the man – had also corrected the mayor on the pronunciation of his name – it’s pronounced Bayzel – whereas the ferret Basil was pronounced the same as the plant. I pointed out the difference and continued.


I read an excerpt from my book which I think went down well, although my voice (to my ears) was several octaves higher than usual. But I guess that’s okay when you’re writing for children.


And then, finally, I got to do that thing where you act like you’re somebody important and sit behind a little table signing books. Strangely, it didn’t feel that weird after all. But I think my signature needs work…
Oh, yes, and Pip was proud! 


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