That time I wrote a book
It didn't radically change my bank balance, but it did change my life. Sort of.
Eleven years ago I wrote a whole book. Ten years ago (last month!) that book was published and sent out into the world. To this day I still get emails from readers that fill my heart to the brim. I was 39 when This I Know came out. It was brave of my younger self to give the book that title, but it felt fitting. I didn’t know much about much, really, but I knew about grief and healing and that formed the backbone of my story.
Flicking through1 it now there are definitely parts I’d change, but it’s a bit like getting tattooed. It’s less about choosing imagery you’ll love for the rest of your life and more about accepting that you’re recording a moment in time. I remember exactly where I was and what was going on in my life as I wrote every chapter of This I Know. I’m so glad the publisher was open to dotting my Polaroids through the book. While some of the words make me cringe now — it’s inevitable — I still love every single one of those Polaroids.
When the book came out I was having one of those Big Years when everything seems to change. Publication was followed by a self-funded book tour around North America and when I returned I knew it was time to relocate back to London. But having a book traditionally published didn’t change my life in the way you’d think it might. There was no endorsement from Oprah’s Book Club — something we all aspired to back then — and my finances certainly don’t look any different!
And here’s what they don’t tell you: having a book out didn’t magically make me a more confident writer or any less neurotic about my words. Instead, being a published author made my life subtly bigger by connecting me to people all around the world. That has been my favourite part. It also fulfilled the dreams of an introverted teenager who scribbled away in her bedroom imagining the books she’d write. Back then I pictured my diaries being published, Anaïs Nin-style, so I guess I wasn’t far off the mark :-)
Creating a book allowed me to make something tangible in what often feels like an ephemeral business — I was only a year into my online teaching mission when the invitation to submit a book proposal came along. I remain indebted to Nikki Hardin, the publisher of Skirt magazine, who took my original Unravelling course and noted my desire to write a book. I had no idea if the online teaching would last, so to be able to hold an ACTUAL BOOK in my hands was thrilling — is still thrilling, in fact. I have never taken it for granted.
I’m often asked if I’ll write a follow-up to This I Know, and I’d love to, of course. I have a feeling it will come to me in post-menopause. Right now I’m traversing a wild river and need all my energy for my teaching, my girl, my tired old self. Some of my courses contain more words than a book and I love that I can flesh them out further with videos and audio. Perhaps the next book is actually a course I have yet to make? Perhaps it’s an audio-only book? Perhaps it’s a pile of journal pages.
I’m excited to see what unravels next.
Here’s an audio excerpt from Chapter One, recorded by me, nine years ago xo
I’m serious about the “flicking through” — I find it impossible to sit down and read it. One day I will… but not yet.