I have always read the dedications writers place at the beginning of their books.
When my son was little, and we would read picture books, I would always start at the dedication. Sometimes they were obvious, 'To my children...' 'To my loving wife...' but our favourites were the mysterious ones, 'To RB and GR.' We would guess who they could be.
A quick online search will give you plenty of examples of witty, romantic, or mysterious dedications. Some can be quite blunt - the final word in a dispute. Others can show the sadness of something lost in the process of writing or in life itself.
When my first book was in the process of being published, I could include a dedication. Here was my thinking: this is my first book, possibly my only book so... this one is easy.
For my mum and dad, thank you.
And for Lewis.
With the excitement of having a second book signed and then the process of getting it published it wasn't until the final read through that the spot for the dedication was there and I hadn't written it.
Okay. Wait. Hmmmmm...
Here's what not to do. Overthink it - which just happens to be the first thing I did.
When I am stuck on something, like what to add to a manuscript, or rewriting something that just isn't working, I pull on my runners, find the dog lead, and take three-legged Ruby for a walk. I find that walking is so automatic, and Ruby knows the path she likes to take, that I can just let my mind wander and the answer usually comes by the time we reach home.
That's what I should have done.
My mistake was that I didn't do what I usually do: what I actually did was go online and look for inspiration. When you read all of the dedications that have become as famous as they book they were in, it can be a bit intimidating. What if there is another reader out there who loves to read dedications as much as I do, picks up my book and thinks - well, that's pretty average.
Just before I started to write this post, I looked at the dedications in the half a dozen books I have stacked on my desk at the moment. There's a mixture of inspirational quotes, a nickname, and one that does not have a dedication at all (I get that!).
Thankfully, it was one of my friends who rescued me from my overthinking dilemma.
I was heading out the front gate to walk Ruby, just as my neighbour Karen was walking home from the pool. She is an early morning swimmer. "What's happening with the book?" she asked.
And there it was.
Everything We Keep is dedicated to my friends - the ones who have been on the journey with me from the start, who read the first manuscript and gave me encouragement. The ones who have been excited about the steps in the process, who went to the local bookstore on the day it was released and bought it.
They have jumped aboard my amateur social media and liked, shared, and commented. They have sort out Harper in bookstores and sent me photos to use. They have enjoyed the countdown to release dates and been as thrilled as me when seeing the cover for the first time.
Since Harper was released, I have changed jobs, meet new people in my workplace, in the publishing world and now have new friends who are part of this next step. How lucky am I to have a large circle of supportive friends who have read manuscripts, looking past the errors, have been disappointed with me when, for a while, there wasn't a publisher in sight and who, I am forever grateful, came to the first launch and were as excited and nervous as I was.
For me the writing process - from idea to bookshelf - is only possible because I have friends who believe that I can do it and who encourage me every step of the way.
I didn't need to overthink my next dedication, or even walk Ruby (not that she ever objects). The inspiration for my second dedication is around me every day.
To my friends - who have been on the journey
from the start and those who have joined along
the way - thank you.