I have been doing the proofs to my new books. And I am scared. Scared that I have got it wrong (bit late now), scared that no one will read the damn things, or like them, or say much about them. Bit late now for that too. Scared there might still be a typo. Or several. Walk to the crease and swing your arm. Hit it and hope.

My failings, in the form of words, those real things, with their cunning ability to display the repetitiousness of my obsessions and the words I have chosen, repeatedly, as it turns out, with which to express them, rear up from the page, sneering, then spin away, cackling, into the night. No one sees this but me.

I am very nearly done. When I originally dreamed these books they had different titles, different bodies, different lives. I had to kill them (both) before I found out what they were about, who they wanted to be.

I realise now how like my children they are in that there is nothing more I can do for them. They will go out into the world without my protection. I can only hope I will have done enough.

They are about dying and then, when that does not happen, what happens afterwards. They are a record of my reading life, the life(line) I was given when I did not die, the coming back to family and poetry and teaching and pencils and swimming.

But today, there is a mistake on page something that still needs to be ironed out. I worry at it, leave my comment, then step away, not looking back over my shoulder.

We are so nearly there.

It is almost time.

I press full stop, send.


  1. I particularly like the way you describe the strange way that repeated words in first drafts “display the repetititiousness ” of deepest obsessions.
    Looking forward to meeting your newly fledged works .


  2. Thank you for this post. Its good not to feel aloone.I too am reading proofs and am beset with anxiety. My generous publisher do not normally publish poetry – will the poetry world sneer at me? Will they think the poems unworthy, the line breaks clumsy, the formatting all wrong? And the people I worked with in the prison (its about my working life) what will they make of it? Will i disappoint or fail them in some way? Likewise the prisoners? Im very scared. I cling onto the fact that the world does need to know about the women we lock up. And as a friend of mine always says at any book launch ‘whoever finds the mistake can buy me lunch.’


    1. Thank you Avril. I know just what you mean. It is a nervous time. But at some point we have to let them go, donโ€™t we? I wish you every success with your book and hope it finds the audience who needs it. With best wishes, Anthony


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