THE BEST PART OF WRITING A BOOK?

Dedication written and it's off to the publisher.

Dedication written and it’s off to the publisher.

Some people might say that the best part of writing a book is typing the words THE END.    Or that the most satisfying part is setting  out on the journey and writing that first sentence.  But for me, there is one stand out moment of pure joy and fulfillment; THE DEDICATION

For my first book, The Water Doctor’s Daughters there was  never any doubt about who I would name.  A debut book is the culmination of so many years of life and learning.  The greatest influence on most of us are our parents. In my case,  my mother has always been my inspiration.

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It was from my mother that I inherited a love of telling stories,  the  curiosity that drives  every narrative non-fiction writer, and the humour to deal with all the vicissitudes  an aspiring  author faces.   My biggest regret was that she was not alive  to see the  book  published and to read my tribute.

Those writers whose parents are still alive can afford some levity. I especially enjoyed the humour  of this dedication;

BookDed

 

My second book was a travel memoir,  All Along the River; Tales From the Thames.   Although my mother has a strong  presence in this book, again there was no hesitation about who it should be dedicated to; my husband Rob.  Just  seven words said it all. He accompanied  me  every step of the way along the Thames Path and was also my photographer.

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Such is the emotion involved in dedications that it is all to easy to step over the line into  embarrassing   sentimentality.   It is wise to run the words past an editor, lest you end up with something so cringe worthy it will  make prospective readers close the covers.

My mother often read to her  little brood; such  comforting, magical times.  However, I  have no clear memory of her reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  My sister insists that she did, and I do recall trying to find a secret door in our old-fashioned wardrobe.  I think it’s for this reason that the dedication on  C.S. Lewis’s  book strikes such a chord with me.  It was written to his Goddaughter;

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales. And by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still.  But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell what you think of it.  I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather.

C. S. Lewis

Dedication

 

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I  took the book down when I was in my fifties and was transported….not  only to the kingdom of Narnia, but to my childhood and  precious memories of  being read to.

Lewis’ comment about books taking a long time to be  published raises another issue.  A writer’s circumstances can change radically between finished manuscript and the appearance of the work. An acquaintance of mine was barely able to look at her first novel, let alone market it. She had dedicated it to her husband of twenty years, who left  her  for another woman only weeks before it appeared.   Worse still,  with his blessing she  had given up a high profile job to  concentrate on her writing. The  humiliation and sense of betrayal must have been overwhelming.

My work in progress is the biography of a bogus Tasmanian doctor.  It will be dedicated to a shell-shocked, World War I soldier, for reasons too complicated to explain here.

FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A MESSAGE IN THE BOX BELOW. DON’T FORGET TO COMPLETE THE ANTI-SPAM SUM BEFORE PRESSING ‘SUBMIT.

6 Comments
  1. I think long and hard about the dedication that’d go into my books. I try to find the person/s who have influenced me the most, or who have patiently waited when my writing overshadowed my household commitments.
    I enjoyed your further research into the Macquarie miniatures. Where will it lead?
    Happy writing,
    Heather

    • Pauline

      Hi Heather, yes…the supporters of our work are so important. I’m not sure I will every find the truth about those miniatures, but it’s fun trying!

  2. Pauline, as I was reading your post, I must admit your words swayed me. In writing my soon to be released book, I disagreed at first because my experience was so different this time around. For example, it was the first time I had written anything where I actually enjoyed the journey as apposed to being gratified purely with the the words “the end.” I even loved the editing and re-writing process, which too this point always felt like dentisery. But in reading your piece I remembered why I was writing the book in the first place. Though it is a fiction book it is a remembrance of my families life in Eastern Europe. And your blog reminded me why I dedicated it to three loved ones who are not here anymore. Just like the topic of the book, I dedicated it to them because I wanted everyone to know that I would not forget them. I wrote the book so that others might be able to remember too. So, in short, your blog reminded me how personal my writing journey was, and how my dedication summarized this journey in one short sentence. Thanks for your blog. john

    • Pauline

      Hi John, thanks so much for writing such a thoughtful response. I can understand exactly how you feel. Many people believe that truth can be revealed more clearly in fiction. I write a lot about my family, especially here on my website. By the way, I’ve always loved editing, to me it’s a bit like sculpting.
      Best of luck with the book, hope it’s going well.

  3. A nice insight. Thank you for sharing. M x

    • Pauline

      Thanks Marcia. I always read the acknowledgements and dedication in books.

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