Well, this is awkward. I want to get back in touch because I miss you but it’s been so long I feel embarrassed. You’ve become like the friend I keep meaning to call but weeks pass, then months and then it gets too hard to pick up the phone.
I’ve been waiting to have some good news to share but that hasn’t happened and so I guess I’ll just tell you what’s been going on in general… if you’re interested that is…
And if you’re not, I completely understand.
But for those still reading… what’s been happening with you? How are you doing?
Me? Oh… well… you know… LIFE’S BEEN A SH*T SHOW!
Oh, yes! A proper, start to finish car crash!
The book? What’s happening with the book? Er… do you really want to know? Really? OK…
Some of you might remember that the last time I wrote about the book I’d just come back from Ireland and was feeling delighted with myself.
I had completed my self-help challenge! And written a book! I was on top of the world!
While I was waiting to get feedback on the book, I took on a work project that I thought I could do in six weeks. At this stage I was VERY confident about my ability to do anything! I was unstoppable! A Tony Robbins dream machine!
Those six weeks turned into a six months project from hell.
In the meantime my agent came back with suggestions of the tiny changes needed to be done to my book. By tiny changes I mean a complete re-write.
And so, six months behind schedule and mentally knackered, I got back to my book….
I sat by my computer from 7am till 7pm, trying to churn out words.
Weeks passed but I was getting nowhere. I was writing sentences, deleting sentences. Writing. Deleting.
I lost confidence that anything I wrote was of interest. I lost any kind of sense of humour too. My whole project seemed disgustingly self-indulgent and narcissistic. I felt disgustingly self-indulgent and narcissistic.
The self-loathing kicked in good and proper. I wanted to escape my head but I couldn’t – writing a book means living in your head. Digging deeper every day.
I moved back to my mum’s to get away from the distractions of London.
I stopped answering the phone. I also stopped washing my hair (not a strong point at the best of times) and lived in the same jumper and leggings I slept in.
I was looking at my computer so much my eyesight started to go. I got my first pair of glasses.
By the early summer of 2016 mum was worried. She said I was depressed. I told her I wasn’t. I just needed to get the book done! Why didn’t anyone understand that?
The thing with depression is that the slide is so gradual that you often don’t realise what’s happening until you’re at the bottom of the black hole. And if anyone points it out while you’re on the descent, you deny it completely. Or at least I do.
But by August 2016, it was quite clear I could not keep going. In fact I could barely get out of bed. I remember one more morning trying to instruct my limbs to move but they wouldn’t do it. I lost the power of speech too. It was like the signals in my head wouldn’t reach my mouth. Not that I cared. At that point I couldn’t understand the point of any kind of words.
I went to the doctor and was given antidepressants.
I stepped away from the computer and spent a few weeks with family in Ireland. I kept taking my pills.
A couple of months later I was beginning to feel like I was slowly coming alive again and then dad died!
This time my head didn’t really get down but my body did. I got a virus I couldn’t shake. Then I lost my voice. It just went. For three months. It was the strangest thing. Anytime I tried to talk to people a squeak would come out of my mouth. I became convinced I had throat cancer. I had a tube shoved down there to check – and it wasn’t. Thank God. It was just my body’s funny reaction to grief. Or writing a book about self-help.
And so there you go – the messy story of last year.
While the world was experiencing a grand-scale disaster of Brexit, Trump and the refugee crisis, I was experiencing my own first world meltdown. (Is there anything more first world than having a mini breakdown while writing a memoir about self-help???)
But somehow between all of this, in January I finished the book.
I got to the top of the mountain. Did what I set out to do.
And this made me think of… Grand Designs.
It might sound weird but throughout the book writing fiasco, I kept thinking about the Channel 4 show.
I felt like one of those couples who set themselves the task of creating a eco-friendly, modernist masterpiece in six months with a £100,000 budget.
They start off the whole thing looking clean and perky, full of energy and confidence, only for Kevin McCloud to find them, two years later, living in a caravan on the grounds, while the unfinished building sits there with a tarpaulin roof.
She’s gone on to have another baby and looks like she hasn’t slept in three months while the husband’s lost his job and gone completely grey. They have now spent half a million trying to get it finished and are paying crazy interest on bridging loans. They may or may not still be talking to each other.
That was me last year. I started off clean and confident that I’d bash out an award winning bestseller without too much bother. Twelve months later I was an unwashed, unhinged mess. Who was literally unable to talk. Lets not even talk about my finances.
But as any lovers of televisual property porn know, that’s not the end of the story. Kevin goes away and comes back. By now another few months have passed and now it is sunny. Kevin is walking up the drive to see how it all turned out.
By the final reveal, even if the house is only half done and they ran out of money for furniture, you generally see a couple at peace. They are changed, older, tireder – but there is a calmness about them. They accept that everything happened how it happened. They love their new house – their home – despite the fact that it nearly broke them. Perhaps because it nearly broke them. They have a respect for it.
That’s how I feel about the book. Yes there were tears, tantrums and somebody actually died – but I am at peace with last year and with the book. It happened how it happened. I learned a lot about a lot and after all the struggles, I now love the book that’s appeared on my laptop. Thank God.
What happens next is out of my control… For now it’s with my agent but I will keep you posted.
Until then I’m going to start blogging again.
I always thought the book was the important thing but I’ve now realised that the blog was the real magic. Me sharing, you sharing, being honest and encouraging each other. Blogging not only connects us to each other – it made me pay attention to the world rather than retreat from it. And that is where the good stuff is.
And so I want to get back to it. I hope you’d like to get back to it too.
That said, I’m thinking of writing a second book. It’s called HOW NOT TO WRITE A BOOK. I will basically list everything I did last year.
This a joke. I think.
Love to you all.