As a child I was always asked to refrain from scrawling my name across the pages of my books. In fairness to my mother’s pleas, my handwriting has never been neat and for a long time I had trouble spelling my own name which has a glut of letters for something monosyllabic.* Picture books just aren’t the same when all the characters have ‘cLAiRE’ tattooed across their eyes and stomachs. So it has long been drilled into me that You Don’t Write in Books.
Last week the Willy Lit Fest designated a period of time for us authors to sign copies of the Love Stories anthology for the punters. And, very generously, people wanted our scribbles. While Alexis and Susan, the other two authors, raised their pens with the poise of true professions, I felt markedly anxious. Firstly, You Don’t Write in Books, and secondly, what was I meant to write?
When the first book was laid open before me I panicked and just signed my name exactly as I would if signing for a parcel or completing my timesheet at work. So there’s definitely one person in the Greater Melbourne region who can now forge my credit card signature. The second I hastily scrawled my initials, then realised everyone else was writing nice little comments in theirs, and that I, on the other hand, was giving nothing more than a faint touch of barely legible ink as if I were Angelina Jolie acquiescing to the request of my adoring public who had come to LAX especially to greet me. For the third I spent a large amount of time just staring at the page before finally writing something as poetic as ‘I hope you enjoy the story’. I mean, you can see why people pay me to write, right?
Soon, I was on a roll. Alexis gave me her book and I wrote ‘I like your story better than mine.’ Susan gave me hers and I wrote ‘Your story makes me happy.’ David, the MC, gave us his and I wrote ‘Thanks David.’ It was like Shakespeare himself had taken over my body like a benevolent poltergeist and was reinvigorating the world with words.
I have now made the commitment, with 6 weeks until The Bit In Between hits shelves, to practise signing my name every night, alongside flossing my teeth, mediating and doing my pelvic floor exercises. And, just like all the others, I have remembered to do it once this week. So bring on future book signings and may we all enjoy my concise, uninspiring messaging.
*Contrary to most people’s preference, my version of Claire has both the ‘i’ and the ‘e’ because why not? Why not let’s break the bank buying vowels in life’s version of Wheel of Fortune…