I’ve been bouncing the final edits of Twenty-One Nights in July back and forth with John from Hunter Publishers all week. It’s now less than a fortnight away from being released, which will mark the end to a process far lengthier than the book’s merits may suggest.
When I wrote the very first version of Twenty-One Nights I was twenty-eight, trying to run an unfunded arts festival, start an artist run space, and working as a research assistant. I’d developed a fixation with writing a fanzine that ran to a full hundred pages long. I’d finished my PhD and lost the capacity to write short form essays. That first version of Twenty-One Nights was thirty thousand words, photocopied, and laid out with meticulously unreadable, non-digital, cut-and-paste aesthetics. I’d been putting out fanzines for close to a decade by that point, and this was to be my ‘masterpiece’. I was still surprised when people read it. Unlike most creative mediums, you don’t necessarily write zines to be read.
I’m now thirty-four and the revised version of Twenty-One Nights I’ve just revised for publication with Hunter is an entirely different kettle of fish. It’s almost entirely re-written, imbued with an additional six years of thinking, writing and cycling. I probably could have re-titled it as something different, but the motivation still seemed the same; I still love cycling, I still follow it as a sport, and I still find writing the best way to grapple with the unspeakable, profound and sublime spectacle that the Tour presents to those of us willing to sit up late in the Australian winter and watch it.
This will be the first year I get to see it for real. Just after the book comes out I’ll be flying to London to see the race there, and then heading over to see it in Ypres. Meanwhile, John from Hunter Publishers will be up in Queensland, plodding through final changes, design, layout and distribution. Sorry John. I’ll send you a postcard.