My First Book SigningAVIG.
In crayon-red letters an inch high, that inscription fills the front pages of the Little Golden Books that were my weekly portion, wheedled from my parents without much effort on our weekly trips to the Gold Star Market.
But Valerie Gail, why do you insist on this name?
It was not a matter of insistence; it was a matter of truth. Those letters in that arrangement were my name, when it was written down, and none other.
I would, with the arrival of school, learn to wrangle those letters into the standard form of my given name, in the same way that my ambidextrousness was discouraged and my proper hand given the work and the rights for which it was intended.
Years later learning that "Avig" is not a mere random arrangement of letters, but a word – Swedish for clumsy, awkward – and certainly that epithet marked my youth: too tall, too big, not knowing right from left, awkwardly turning and falling. Clumsy on land and clumsy among children. But in one of those books tagged by AVIG, I learned that the ugly duckling might, given enough time, shape itself into a swan.
If I ever set up my own publishing imprint, it would have to be Avig Books, in honor of the identity I assumed – found – as soon as I learned to make letters.