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11 March 2016 ·

Setting your characters free

(with a thank you card to my editors)

There ought to be a word for the strange emptiness that comes with sending corrected proofs back to your publisher. Excitement and relief, yes, but also some grief: it’s time to say goodbye to these characters, this world, that you’ve nurtured for so long. They no longer belong just to you; they must make their own way in the world and stand on the strength of their words: words you gave them but that now belong to everyone who reads them.

It’s a bit like seeing your children leave home; they’ll always be your children, but you can’t control what happens to them. You’ve given them your best, and it’s too late to wonder if you should have sent them to a different school, or encouraged them to play the violin instead of football. On that analogy, the actual publication and book launch is a bit like graduation – but right now, July – when Dragonfly Song will be published in Australia – seems a long time away.

And yes, I posted a few weeks ago about taking a break between books, as if I had actually finished this one, and even the proofs came back for correcting, I forgot it would take me quite as long as it did to read the whole thing aloud again, fiddling and polishing as I went. But now it’s truly done, and even though I’m in the middle of writing teaching notes for the book,  emotionally I’m concentrating on saying goodbye to my Aissa – who’s been growing quietly since some time in 2010, as you can hear:



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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Dragonfly Song, a novel in free verse and prose of an outcast girl who becomes a bull-leaper in Bronze Age Crete. Read full bio