Today marks a big milestone in my parenting life. My ten-year-old daughter and I went to the shopping centre for lunch and to run some errands. As we were leaving we went to buy bubble tea and then we were going to buy a hamburger to take home to my husband. We arrived at Cha Time to find a huge line that would take at least 15 minutes to power through. Then we would have to face the same wait for a hamburger. So I made an executive decision. I gave her money and told her that I would leave her to order and wait while I went to get a hamburger. I knew she would have no issues with this task as I’d been getting her to order things and pay as much as possible for me.
I turned around and walked off to buy the hamburger, rationalising in my head leaving her. She was in a foodcourt. There were lots of people around. All she had to do was wait in line and buy. Everything would be fine. Fifteen minutes later I returned to find that it had all gone to plan and she was waiting for our drinks. As we pierced the straws through the plastic top and walked off I asked her how did she feel. “I don’t feel any different to how I did fifteen minutes ago,” she said with a deadpan face. But I knew she lied. Something had changed. This was another moment when she was taking a step away from into the big world. She was transitioning from childhood to adolescence. I feel so happy and sad about this moment. It’s such a relief that she has independence and yet it is another marker of how our lives are changing.
And this makes me think about other milestones I’m experiencing at the moment. In my writing life there is transition and change. On my current manuscript I have finally hit that magic 50,000 mark where my novel goes from being a kind-of-a-novel to an actual book with characters and a world that feel more real to me than my own, sometimes. It feels magical to be writing and seeing it all come together. I’ve been sick for a week and was completely burnt out and unable to think creatively. It left me with a gaping void, an emptiness that could only be filled by filling the creative well and immersing myself back into my writing life.
I’m so grateful to have this work-in-progress to keep me centred as I await the release of my memoir, Things Nobody Knows But Me, out into the world. It feels like the term pregnant pause was invented for this time. I am participating in publicity and interviews behind the scenes, things are ticking over, but there is nothing to show for it yet. It feels excruciating and exciting all at the same time.
I keep thinking about the launch on the 25 May and yet I struggle to focus on it. I know there are things I should do to prepare, and yet I also struggle to focus my mind on them. It seems so strange that I spent so many years creating this book and now that it’s being let out into the world I’m conflicted about it. It reminds me of sending my daughter to school: will she be liked, will people be kind to her, those are the same thoughts and feelings I have about my memoir.
But I will forge and while I’m waiting and enduring I’ll be grateful that I can come back to my character Samira in war-torn Srebrenica in 1993 who just helped a wounded woman to hospital, only to find out that there is not enough medicine to save her. The good thing about being a writer I am never lonely or alone. Instead I always have the voices of my characters with me.
Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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