This year I have written a book and saying it out loud (or rather, writing it down here) makes me feel I need to pinch myself. It’s a dream and it’s now a reality. I fancied myself as a writer for a long, long time but never – actually – wrote. Or wrote much, at any rate. A background in PR made me adept at a snappy press release, and a lifetime as a d.e.d.i.c.a.t.e.d. reader fooled me into thinking of myself as someone a bit wordy. You know, pretty good at WordFeud and smug at Scrabble. But actually writing – committing something to page/screen – I just never got around to jumping in.
But. As I say, this year I have taken the dive, jumped in, committed myself and only gone and written a whole flipping book. And (somewhat typically, I’m guessing) the motivation for doing it wasn’t me, wasn’t fulfilling my dreams, wasn’t a creative yearning that just had to met. Oh no. It was for my daughter. Yes, I am the ultimate ‘helicopter mother’. I actually wrote a book about puberty as a guide for all girls going through this sticky tricky time for the simple reason that nothing that was out there already (or nothing I could find easily, at any rate) quite did the job in the way I wanted her to experience it.
I didn’t want her reading about growing hair on the same page as tips for how to remove it. Or being told ‘it’s just a phase’ when I remember feeling like the world as I’d previously known it had just spun on its axis. I didn’t want her to feel that starting periods was synonymous with leaving childhood, becoming a woman and bearing children. What? I certainly didn’t want her to read all about it in a book littered with pretty images of cartoon white Bratz-a-likes with the odd token chubster or BAME girl. I wanted her to have something that could speak to her in an informed, friendly way. And, as I was struggling to find something I just decided – I’ll write this myself. This will be the thing, this is what I’ll do. And I did. I had great help from a local GP (Maddy Podichetty) and also my wise and wonderful sister-in-law (Laura Chaisty) who is a trained psychotherapist and this meant that I could borrow medical credibility when explaining the scientific processes at play, and also have an amazing, supportive and clear-headed insight into the emotional side of puberty. Next came finding an illustrator who could bring to life the ideas in my mind, and to my great good fortune Flo Perry agreed to take this on as a ‘freelance project.
And how did I persuade these wonderful women to get involved? Simple. I asked them. That’s it. That brass neck I developed working in PR came good and with ‘the worst they can do is say no’ ringing in my head I just got on with it and now here I am sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of tea with a blad of my book next to me and first proofs due any day now. I am starting to feel like writing is something I can do, not just something I could do.