Things I’ve learned from the book

In no particular order:

  • The rules for commas, or at least my understanding of them, is unacceptably wooly.
  • Poetry books have a lot of white space at the bottom and not a lot at the top. It looks weird on screen but right on paper.
  • A group of poems does not make a book. It took quite a few years (and many rejections) to learn this. Working with a group of good editors helped me order my poems into a collection.
  • It’s a good idea to trust your designers, in my case The International Office. This meant I had to suppress my natural urge to offer ‘helpful’ suggestions. The final cover and type setting of the book are not what I imagined they would be, which is good because my design imagination is pretty limited.
  • The poems in the book were written between 2009 and 2012. I wonder what my younger self would have thought if I’d told her it would take ten years to publish our first collection, and three years to write it. I’ve learned that my writing progresses slowly when I’ve got the business of life (husband, baby, work, Wellington) to enjoy. This isn’t a bad thing, but something I need to accept and keep in mind when writing the next collection.
  • My mother is the best proof reader I know.
  • Community newspapers will inevitably get your name wrong.
  • Barcodes! We decided not to have one as my book is unlikely to be a massive international seller, and the design looked better without it.
  • When a publisher puts out a book not only do they need an ISBN, but they need to register the book with the National Library of New Zealand’s Cataloguing-In-Publication (CiP) programme so a cataloguing record for the book can be created and shared with all New Zealand libraries. The publisher also has to give the Library a copy of the book under Legal Deposit so it’s available for everyone. How brilliant is that?
  • Holding the finished book in my hands was surreal / amazing. I’m really proud that it’s mine.

There are three days until the launch – 10 August, 5.30pm, at City Gallery in Wellington. Hope to see you there!


3 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned from the book

  1. My understanding of commas is woolly too. All the stuff they teach you at school about punctuation leaks out of your head over time. All I remember is it is a natural pause where a speaker would take a breath and for clauses, if you were to take out the bit with commas either side, the sentence would still make sense.

    I’m pleased for you. You are justifiably proud. Hope the launches go swimmingly.

  2. My mother is also the best proof reader I know.

    So far as I know, there are no reliable rules for commas in English. We did used to teach in Academic writing that four different categories of use would keep you out of trouble 99% of the time, though:

    1/ Joining two sentences into one with a co-ordinating conjunction
    2/ Inserting words, phrases or clauses into a sentence
    3/ Listing items in a series
    4/ Writing addresses, large numbers, etc.

    Believe it or not, that’s pretty much it for uses of the comma – in Kiwi English, at any rate.

    Congratulations on the book. Sorry I can’t make it to the launch, but I will certainly be purchasing a copy.

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