Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Holding Your Book For The Very First Time

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Holding one’s printed and bound book for the first time is an unforgettable moment. There’s nothing like it: the smooth feel of a pristine cover. The tangible weight of all those words in your hand, every one of them hard won. The smell of fresh ink from the printing press. The satisfaction of finally seeing years of work materialize into a form that can be shared with others.

Today I came home with my five-year-old daughter and found a box from my publisher on the porch. I’d been impatiently waiting for the box since last week when my publicist let me know the book was back from the printer. I’d been hoping my ten author copies would arrive and my daughter knew that. We looked at the box and then at each other and then we squealed, “the book!”

Once inside, we threw ourselves onto the couch, and I ripped into the box with my house key. I lifted out Matadora. She was stunning. She was hefty. She was mine. All at once, the minutes and hours and years it took me to bring her to fruition were justified. Novelists rarely experience satisfaction, as it takes so damned long to complete a book. When that moment finally does arrive it feels strange, as though satisfaction were something you’d craved all along but gave up on ever having.

I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to cry today, as I did upon holding my debut novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence for the first time. Nor did I feel the sense of elation that I experienced when holding my second novel, Smoke for the first time. With Matadora the first feeling that rippled through me was relief. Relief that I had been correct to keep faith in this book through the many years of writing it. Then pride. I was proud to share the moment with my daughter, the person to whom Matadora is dedicated. When she grows up she will read the novel, and tell me what she thinks.

After we’d spent some time looking at the book, its spine, French flaps, the back cover, the ISBN number, and flipping through pages, my daughter asked if we could get out the antique tea cups and saucers (of which we own two) and have a tea party. So I put water on to boil and we did that. We sipped tea while flamenco music played in the background. I don’t know what my daughter will remember of this moment. But I will surely never forget it.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Elizabeth Ruth

Elizabeth Ruth’s first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence, was a finalist for the Writers Trust of Canada Fiction Prize, the Best First Novel Award and the City of Toronto Book Award and was named a top 10 book of the year by NOW Magazine, the Vancouver Sun and the London Free Press. Smoke, her second novel, was chosen for the One Book, One Community program and also named a top 10 book of the year by NOW Magazine. Her most recent novel, Matadora, will be published in April, 2013 by Cormorant Books.

Go to Elizabeth Ruth’s Author Page