Our newest ambition
For the past year, unable to get traction on a book of my own, I’ve been collaborating on one with R. Really it’s her book: my role is editorial, and to supply leading questions if things are running too fast or too slow. She’ll type a few sentences at a time, asking how to spell things; then it all gets too exciting and she starts leaping around the room and vaulting over furniture while continuing to dictate to me. The centaurs, dragons, sphinxes, disguised princesses, portals to other universes are all her own.
Once we got to twelve chapters plus a Note from the Author (“I am six years old. This is my first book.”), she drew a cover and we laid it out in InDesign, using the same font as The Drowned Library. We used pure reason to work out which pages to print on the backs of other pages so the whole thing could be stapled into a forty-page booklet. Getting staples through a forty-page booklet requires spearing the starting holes with a sewing needle. At one point my hand slipped and I now have a stigma on my left palm.
We’ve printed five or six copies so far, gifts for friends and family. The longtime favorite babysitter got a copy as her wedding gift. R.’s first-grade teacher got one too, and in my opinion did not properly acknowledge the significance of the gesture.
“I want to be a writer when I grow up,” R. says, “but I’ll also need another job.” Scary to me, how closely she’s been watching, and how fast she’s caught on.