The best part of writing a book isn’t seeing it in bookstores, though that is certainly fun. It’s not even holding the book in your hands for the first time. No, the best part is getting emails of appreciation from readers. Even now I still get emails from souls who’ve connected with my story and wanted to share theirs with me. I’ve sat here with tears in my eyes as I read about the loved ones they’ve lost, and how they found themselves reflected back in the pages. To me this is the real measure of the book’s success. Doing the book tour last year was so amazing and I’ve caught myself wishing I could do it all again this year. Getting to sit and talk with all those women was such an honour and definitely one of the most soul-nourishing things I’ve ever done.
I wrote This I Know in 2011 and my head and heart are in a different place from where they were two years ago. Yet so much of what I wrote still stands. Though I don’t remember every word I wrote, I can still recall how it felt to be holed up in my home in Bath pouring my heart out into my laptop. Writing a book, like any big creative project, asks a lot of you. It’s physically tiring and mentally challenging; your inner critic rubs her hands in glee as you dance daily with your imposter complex. And it doesn’t stop when the book is finished. I had a short period of compulsively checking my Amazon reviews until I finally got what I’d feared most — a negative review — and decided then and there to stop checking! As an author you have no control over how people receive your book. You can only do your best, try not to let yourself or your publisher down, and cross your fingers that you’ll sell enough copies to be able to write another. Because that’s the thing with a first book — it’s a first book. It’s your baptism by fire, and once you’ve done it once you’re itching to do it again. But this time, you tell yourself, it’ll be better. You know how to write a book now. You know what not to do. You know how much time it takes, and how you’ll wring every word from your brain and need to find ways to fill it up again. “It’s just a first book,” you’ll say to friends. “My next one will be better.”
This I Know touches on subjects that are important to me — family, creativity, community, solitude, purpose — and I’m hungry to dive deeper into them, but the chapter that feels most complete to me is the first. My grief story informs the entire book, but is told in more detail in chapter one. Putting the finishing touches to that part of the book felt like the closing of a circle. It felt like completion, finally, and a letting go…. and that’s why it’s my favourite.
I recorded the first section of that chapter for you… just for fun:
I am healed and moving forward, but reading back my words — saying them aloud even — makes me so grateful that I had the opportunity to put my story onto paper. It doesn’t matter if I think I could have done better (we’re always going to think that, eh?) — what matters is it’s being read by those who needed to read it. Who needed to find themselves reflected back in someone else’s experience. It’s what I was searching for in those first months of bereavement, but it’s also more than that. It’s about the twisty wonderous creative journey, and the path to self-acceptance. I’m proud of my little book baby and I hope I can write a sibling for her at some point in the not too distant future.
That one will be even better ;-)
There’s still plenty of time to enter the Big Book Giveaway!
And Journal Your Life starts in less than a week so I’ll keep registration open in case you’d like to join us xx