Limbo is an interesting place to be.

You know it’s not going to last, yet there’s a beautiful motionless, timeless quality to being there. Like when the swing goes up, up, up so high, and your body is stretched out so far you can tip your head back and there’s nothing but blue sky and upside-down trees, and you hang there for a moment, suspended between flying and falling, until you sit up and the earth brings you whizzing breathlessly back.

I received my copies of The Little Washer of Sorrows from the publisher a few days ago.

My daughter filmed me at the post office, ripping open the box like a sugar-buzzed five-year-old on her birthday. I picked one up and inspected it, front and back. (Phewf, no typos on the cover!) I flipped it open. Fanned the pages close to my face, to smell them. Fanned the pages close to the post office worker’s face, so she could smell them too. Then my friend G came in, so I gave her a copy. I signed it (fun!!!!) and told her I hoped she enjoyed reading it.

That was four days ago.

And I haven’t heard back from her.

That’s the limbo I’m talking about. Between the time a dear reader opens the first page and the closes the cover for the final time, the author hangs in timeless, motionless limbo.

Or maybe it just feels that way because I’m such a newbie.

Writing is a slowly consumed art. It’s not like a painting, that you bite eagerly, taste immediately, chew and perhaps swish around in your mouth a little, and gulp down. Or a piece of music that you savour for a few wonderfully measured minutes. Even slow theatre or a long movie can be enjoyed between happy hour and dinner.

But a book—even a short one like mine—takes a long time to digest. Hours. Days. Weeks. It is usually consumed a few pages here, a few chapters or stories there. Personally, I’m a very slow reader; I enjoy the language of stories too much to rush. I like to hear each word in my head (sorry, Evelyn Wood). And, I’ve purchased great books that sit on my shelf for years before I crack their spines.

The Little Washer of Sorrows is just starting to make its way “out there.” Official release date is this March 31. Pre-orders are arriving in people’s mailboxes now. One Whistler bookstore has already started selling them, and the publisher has been vigorously sending books around for review purposes.

But as of today, I haven’t spoken to anyone who has actually READ the whole thing (except of course for my incredible proofers, editors, previewers etc.) It’s an interesting feeling, having a book that’s real (paper! ink!) and fresh (the Pemberton Library just catalogued their copy today!) yet, virtually unconsumed.

It’s “out there,” but only just. Reviews have yet to be written. The launches, readings, special events and book tour are around the corner. In this limbo, I see blue sky and upside down trees. Not a bad view from here.

4 Comments

  • Denean says:

    You have an amazing talent weaving words into images and emotive responses…a true talent. I look forward to reading your book, I congratulate you on the accomplishment. I look forward to your posts passed along by Bob and hope to one day meeting you in person.

  • Dave says:

    I’m hoping my copy is shipped soon. I’m really looking forward to this book and I hope to see other people enjoy it as well. It must be pretty popular as it’s unavailable at every store I’ve checked! NPR did a great review that got me interested and I immediately went to Amazon and placed an order. Checking back daily to see how much longer I must wait.

  • Shannon says:

    I have hear about being ‘immersed’ in a book, but that word doesn’t even come close to qualifying what happens to me when I read a book. NOTHING ELSE EXISTS, but the story. I don’t even clean the house (not myself and I know you’ll really understand what I mean now). I have been nursing Little Washer of Sorrows…sipping it so that it lasts as long as possible. I have given myself 24 hours before I am permitted to pick it up and enjoy the next story. Love it Katherine! Thank you for putting that collection of letters together on those pages for us to be carried away.

    Off to clean (for now),
    shannon