December 2021

I am sitting amongst large and diverse piles of books, figuring out which need to go back to the library and which we can hang onto for a little longer. When the libraries opened again a few weeks ago, all the books I had previously placed on hold came flooding in like an early Christmas. Unfortunately, it turns out I am never busier and with less time to read or write than during lockdown.

Now I am sorting through some beautiful works of art and writing, keeping what I can and making note of those unfinished ones that I will simply have to borrow again sometime. The whole exercise seems like a metaphor for the year we have lived through: times of plenty, times of great restriction, and at the end of it all a jumble of loose ends going nowhere that need tying, and threads to pick up and carry on with.

2021 has been the year in which our book became a hardcopy reality, and was officially launched into the world. It has been nothing short of the realisation of a dream.

When Grandpa versus Swing appeared in the latest Scholastic Book Club catalogue, it took me right back to the schoolday excitement of getting the book club brochures, of poring over the newsprint pages and looking for new worlds to explore in print. We knew them as Scholastic’s Lucky Book Club (printed in red and black) and Arrow Book Club (printed in blue and black). In 2021, my own work was there in full colour, part of a six-pack of New Zealand picture books, in mighty fine company with some amazing New Zealand authors and illustrators. Wow!

Back now to my library books and the task at hand: I requested these books slowly over the last few months, and of course they all arrived within days or weeks of each other when restrictions eased. They are a picture of the hopes and the false starts of the year, of the downtime I thought I would have and didn’t, of my greater backlog of projects and ideas.

The picture books are by nature quick reads. Still, I hang onto the best ones for a little while. They stand a lot of re-reading, and lingering-over, and relishing.

I have managed to sort a pile of summer reading from the library book mountain. It’s mostly novels and it’s optimistically large, but optimism is something I need right now.

I wish you all plenty of time to read over the holidays and into the new year. I wish you time to think, to write if you like to write, and to heal and strengthen if you need to. 2021 has been momentous for me. It has been difficult at times, and it has been joyous. Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout.

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