Prepare for a tasting of dragonfruit, in three servings……..
Firstly, the Dragonfruit Book Launch – this was delayed from June and took place in Hong Kong on Thursday 16 October. Wonderful! I couldn’t attend. 😦 Not so wonderful! When the revised date came through, I was not surprised, but still disappointed that my schedule was completely booked (out of Yangon) for that week. There was not even the tiniest of possibilities that I could attend. An important seminar was in my diary from 13 to 17 October so not even a glimpse of opportunity to somehow fit it in. But in a way, that is easier. No heart-wrenching decisions to make, no searching, researching and re-researching complex travel options and no sense of “almost” missing the event. It was clearly not an option, and indeed while I did feel disappointed, this was not as deeply cutting as it would have been if I had expected to go. But still.
The event took place in Bookazine, Prince’s Building in Central District, Hong Kong. That’s a REAL bookshop with shelves of books, and REAL copies of Dragonfruit. How I wish I had seen that. (I am still scouring the shelves of any bookshop I visit, in the hope that I will see it, but that day still has to come). I am very glad, though, that I could attend virtually through Dragonfruit editor, Shannon’s blog and meet fellow writer contributors in a number of photographs on Facebook. Great chunks of dragnfruit were served alongside fine wine and readings from the book. Delicious!
However, I did not miss out entirely on connecting with fellow writers from Dragonfruit. By wonderful coincidence and thanks to the highly connected internet world we live in these days, three of us were able to meet in Yangon on Monday evening. A kind of Fringe Event to the Official Launch! One writer (has recently moved to Yangon, and it has been wonderful to connect and share how we feel (mostly wonder and disbelief) at being included in what is such an exciting book together. Pride and a little surprise that we are amongst such great and well reputed writers. Then we learned that another of the writers would also miss the Hong Kong Launch – because she would be on holiday in Myanmar. She was passing through Yangon briefly on the way here and on return home. There was a tiny window where we might be able to meet…….. Monday evening, providing flights and other variables allow.
All transpired to succeed rather than conspired to sabotage and we met even a little earlier than expected, for a comfortable dinner. It is quite strange meeting people who you know from a distance, yet through their writing have insights into very personal experiences. The other women know all about my breast cancer and much of its emotional fallout, for example, yet not about the mundane basics of my life, circumstances and work here. We were almost a little mutually star struck! Yet, for me it reinforced one of the very special elements of this particular book. It has created more than words on a page, and stories of faceless strangers. A community of similar minds has evolved and a spider’s web of differing levels of connection between the writers and editor. Unexpected and welcome. And a second serving of dragonfruit.
And the third serving is imminent and somewhat daunting. The Book Club I go along to in Yangon has selected Dragonfruit for our October read. That is REALLY quite scary. I have bared my soul to the universe on this blog and now in the book and so far have been treated pretty gently by critics. I guess that is a “benefit” of cancer – folks tread carefully around you. Now, I love our Book Club, but I cannot quite get my head around the fact that a piece of my writing will be dissected and pored over in the run up to, and on the evening of our Book Club evening. I am glad that I am in good company and can hide – and also that my fellow Yangon-based writer will be there too. However, I do feel very exposed and nervous about the discussion.
So I have to pinch myself and remember. Having some of my writing published is an important life goal, and through Dragonfruit this has been realised. (Even though I am hungry for more!) Indeed through Dragonfruit, I not only have a book in my possession which includes my work, but I have connected with a phenomenal group of people. I have learned a great deal about the processes around publishing and understand just how little I really know!