(*photo credit to Craig Finlay*)
I picture it: the room, lit up by delicate, romantic strings of fairy lights, filled with all of my favourite people. Sparkling drinks. Sparkling eyes. I see their faces light up as they pick up their first hard copy of it. I hear my dad promising to read it, even though he probably won't get past chapter three without wincing at the emotion of it all. I see my mum's look of horror at the sex scene that she just so happens to open it at. My best friends are sprawled across each other on the well-loved brown leather sofa in the corner: the air between them filled with laughter and the smell of free Prosecco. My boyfriend's there too, watching me, quietly, proudly, in that way he does sometimes.
The next day, I walk into the bookshop I've walked into a thousand times before, and it's there. A book on a shelf. My book. I'm terrified, a little, of both realities, I think: of the responsibility that comes with creating an extraordinary, soul-stirring thing that is out in the world and might stay with somebody forever, and of the inevitable, crippling disappointment that'll wet my face when somebody doesn't love it as much as I do. But fear is the price you pay to experience the magic, and that's what it is: my book on a shelf. My very own idea of magic. Sometimes I lay awake at night and imagine it.
I used to get jealous, so ridiculously jealous, of the people I've watched achieve this magical thing: the people who wrote and wrote and wrote their way to that perfect, terrifying moment. Somehow, for years, I felt with hideous, silly self righteousness that they were taking something that didn't belong to them: that their book deal should have been my book deal, as if our dreams are there for somebody else to take: as if we're not all individually capable of our own indelible magic, our own unique narratives. As if one story from one human could possibly be better or more important than the next.
There's this writer, Laura, a beautiful, talented, damn-fucking-extraordinary gal, whose first book, 'Becoming', comes out this week. I've loved her since I stumbled across her candid, witty, soul-on-a-plate blog about four years ago, but if I'm honest, for a long time, this curious obsession with her was about me. I'm embarrassed now, but I didn't see her as her: she was simply the embodiment of my own ambition. The next step. The 'where I want to be'. And then I met her. And she was lovely and excited and humbled and bright-eyed and beaming and human, so refreshingly human, and I realised, during that important, empowering conversation, that wanting her dream for her was the easiest and loveliest and most natural thing in the entire world. That doing so didn't invalidate the want of my own. That watching this wonderful, passionate person light up like a firework when she spoke about it was the most compelling, inspiring thing: something I could never, ever get bored of. In just a few minutes, she taught me that she is the only person on this planet who could have written her book, and that I am the only person on this planet who can mine. And if I write and write and write, just like she did, then perhaps, some day, I'll do just that.
Because there's room for us all, I know that now: to be, and to dream, and to create, and most importantly, to celebrate each other's magic, each other's perfect, terrifying moment. A book on a shelf.