We’re all a bit tired after packing and sending all of those books!

So how are you going in this strange time of COVID-19? Feeling overwhelmed, or embracing a slow-down? Missing friends and family, but perhaps also discovering new ways to connect? Out of work and discombobulated, or juggling more tasks than usual? Or perhaps, like me, you’ve experienced a rollercoaster of all of the above.

A week after lockdown commenced here in Australia I was feeling lost and unfocussed. I had just returned from the interstate funeral of a close family member. I had cancelled lots of nature journaling workshops and processed many refunds. I was back at home, with work to do, but finding it hard to get my mojo working. I was probably taking in way too much news and current affairs, trying to make sense of COVID-19 and its ramifications. Then I got an email from Kelly Pfeiffer, Head Teacher of the Dubbo School of Distance Education.

Kelly had a copy of my book Make a Date with Nature: An Introduction to Nature Journaling, and she thought it would be an excellent addition to the Year 7 Sustainability curriculum. But she wanted a version with blank pages that the students could write and draw in. Coincidentally, I had been working on an interactive nature journaling book called Take this Book for a Walk. Pre-COVID, my plan was to have the book ready for release before Christmas 2020. But with social distancing, a lot of my teaching work, markets and events had been cancelled. So I had time on my hands to work on the book.

Kelly was enthusiastic about my concept for Take this Book for a Walk, and thought it would be great for the students. The challenge was to have it ready, and in the hands of each distance education student by 18th May. Could it be done?

I contacted Nicholas Kane from the very helpful MinuteMan Press in Prahran, Victoria, who have printed four of my books over the last few years. I am very firm about printing in Australia, on recycled paper, and MinuteMan Press in Prahran can do this for me at an affordable price. They are also great to work with. But I’d never published a book of this size, and with colour on the internal pages. How much would it cost to print? I thought I could afford it, but financially I was skating on thin ice after losing those workshops, markets and other events. And by what date would he need my digital file to get the books printed and sent to Dubbo in time?

It turns out that it would be possible – just! But that was all I needed, along with Kelly’s encouragement, to fire up the engines and get working again. I worked pretty intensively for a couple of weeks. But it was exhilarating to have a challenge to work towards, and also know that the book would be well-received. 

And finally, last Friday, the TNT van laboured up our hill and delivered the first copies of Take this Book for a Walk to our front door. What a thrill! In a frenzy of packing and sticking on postage labels, and then a 35 minute drive to the post office, I somehow managed to get all of the pre-ordered books dispatched last Friday afternoon. Thank you to everyone who has purchased Take this Book for a Walk so far. It’s been a wild ride, but now I have produced what I think is the first ever interactive nature journaling book in Australia. And it looks like my finances will soon be in the black again 😊

A few hours earlier, about 800 km away, another TNT van arrived at the Dubbo School of Distance Education to deliver their books. Kelly rang to thank me, and to say how awesome the books were. The teachers at the school are very excited to have Take this Book for a Walk as part of next semester’s curriculum. But don’t take my word for it – check out this wonderful photo of the Dubbo School of Distance Education staff ‘Taking this Book for a Walk’! 

Dubbo School of Distance Education staff – ‘Taking this Book for a Walk’ last Friday. Left to Right: Debbie Murray (Principal), Kelly Pfeiffer, Tyler Berrigan, Jacinta Edwards, Jules Marshall and Cara Karakasch.