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: