This I Know, one year on

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

20 responses
  1. Louise

    Hearing you reading your words is even more powerful and moving than when I read this Chapter 1 of “This I Know”… Yes, “we have to learn to accept the unacceptable”, but this lesson is so hard to assimilate… Thank you for this special moment.

  2. Rosie Grey

    I bought your book, Susannah, but haven’t started reading yet (mostly because at the moment I manage to read only during my commute to work and I guess I don’t want to be seen weeping over a book…); so I’ve listened to the first chapter here and it has touched me so intensely… still sitting here with tears running down my cheeks, and actually I don’t even really know why I’m writing in this comment box. I guess, it’s to just say that I admire you…

  3. Beka

    Susannah, I think you do know that those few folks that didn’t get/like your book were not the ones this book was for and therefore their opinions are irrelevant anyway. Some people don’t read the blurb about a book very well sometimes and the messages within are not really for. I think you can see that in perspective now. But I totally get that sinking feeling when what you put out there, from your heart, does not please everyone. The real healing comes from the eternity mirror of reflection that your story reflects and illuminates others that theirs in turn reflect and illuminate yours. It comes full circle.


    *and apologies for the seeming ‘puns’ going on there ;)

  4. Sherry Smyth

    That you are moved forward from where you when you penned the books speaks volumes, not just to how you’ve evolved Susannah but how life carries us forward, even when we don’t think we can or want to. Your message is still strong; but you continue to send the message that life is good and there are new experiences waiting when we are ready to say “go”. xo

  5. Esme

    Love the sound of your voice as you read these very soft, vulnerable moments aloud. Thank you.

  6. Tina Tierson

    Your book touched me in so many ways, Dear Susannah. How could the next one be better? You’re amazing and I’m so grateful I was able to meet you last summer on your tour. Much love. xoxo

  7. Shandi

    I will take some time out this summer to re-read the book (3rd time). I loved it. Occasionally, I open random pages to savour parts of it again. I even want to buy three more copies to give away. :)

  8. Angela Vular

    I loved hearing your voice as you read from your book. I feel the need to read it again.
    Please write another book….I can’t wait to read it!!!

  9. Roxanne

    with respect to negative reviews … Anthony Hopkins once said “what people say or think of me is none of my business …” I think these are very wise words.

  10. susannah


  11. Kat

    Congratulations Susannah!

  12. julie

    Happy first birthday This I Know! – you have sent many healing waves of love, openness, and vulnerability out into this world already…thank you. What a precious book you are.

  13. Shannon

    Happy Birthday book. I read ‘This I know’ on a yoga retreat in Tulum, Mexico last October and it was the perfect book for that trip. Since then I have recommended to others. Thank you again for such a lovely book.

  14. Emily

    My favorite book when I was a little girl was “Angela and Bear” by Susan Jeschke. Simply beautiful – it still makes my heart tighten and my eyes water.

  15. sas

    Big heart swell for you & your book baby today love xxx

  16. gerri

    Happy Book Birthday!!!
    First off, love hearing you read your work/words… swoon…
    Second, looking forward to her sibling. ;)
    much love and xxO

  17. Kathryn

    so beautiful, hearing you read. It’s so honest.
    A (belated) happy birthday to your book baby! :)

  18. Stephanie

    I gave your book a friend at work and one of our co-workers commented that she had also been given “This I Know” to read by her daughter! And loved it (of course). It’s a beautiful work that is meant to be shared. Congratulations.

  19. susannah

    I love that! thank you, Stephanie :) x

  20. Kristine dubuque ortega

    Susannah – I loved your book – I read it in two days – Spoke to friends about it – Passed it on to a few more – I have found myself going back to it on my “Not So Srong” days and you lift me up – I find strength in your words. I am currently taking your Journaling Your Life Course and loving every moment – I admire you – You have brought me full circle into the things I love – Writing & Photography, Mostly. Thank you for helping me find “My Calling”.

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