Today is an incredibly important day for me. A day that just a few years ago when struggling with my mental health I would never have believed possible. And the reason this day has even been possible is because, that no matter what was happening to me, no matter how worthless I felt and inspite of all the people who told me I couldn’t make today happen, I decided to ignore them and just keep going anyway.
Since, I was a young girl, I’ve always wanted to be a writer (a children’s author to be exact). I would spend hours pouring over books in our local library and Wh Smiths, spending my pocket money on the latest Enid Blyton or Judy Blume novel, devouring them at times in just one sitting. I loved writing. I loved the beauty of creating something of my very own. Of turning my feelings into lines of poetry and losing myself in my own little world. However, it was never something I was that confident in (despite encouragement from my mum and my teachers) and something I felt others could do a hell of a lot better than me. The thought of having something I’d written published and alive and kicking on a shelf in a book store and in the hands of a reader was, I felt at the time, like an impossible dream. I simply did not have enough self-belief to believe that this dream could in fact become a reality and that I was good enough.
Therefore, it blows my mind, to realise that it was when my self-belief was at it’s lowest and my confidence non-existant that I somehow found “something” (and I call it something as I still don’t know what it was) to actually start to write, to share my writing with others and to start to pursue my childhood dream of becoming a published author.
As crazy as it sounds, the time I chose to do this. My optimum time to start pursuing a career as an author, was when I became a mother and, in turn, mentally ill, suffering with PND and Postpartum Psychosis. Which resulted in me seeing demons around my house. Yes, I know, what you’re thinking…probably not the most stable environment to start something new and something that leaves you incredibly vulnerable and exposed to the world. But, there you have it. That’s what I did. I had two babies under two, was suffering for a second time with my maternal metal health and juggling psychotic episodes with changing nappies and writing a book about it all. TOTAL AND UTTER MADNESS!
Now, as any fellow author knows, just because you decide to write a book, it does not mean that A. You will finish it and B. That if you do finish it, that it will ever get to see the light of day.
Before, you make the decision to write a book, you think that the hardest part will be writing it, however, as I fast learned, the most challenging, insecurity exposing and soul destroying part was getting the damn thing considered to be good enough to be looked at in the first place, let alone pitched to a publisher. You see, for those that don’t know about this whole world of publishing, first of all you need to impress an agent (as publishers don’t usually accept unsolicited manuscripts) and then your book and your agent need to impress a publisher and convince them that not only is the book well written but most importantly that there is a market for it and that it has the potential to earn them a lot of money.
So there I was, postpartum, mentally ill with two babies under two and receiving rejection, after rejection, after soul destroying rejection, from a host of agents who had received my manuscript and quite simply, thought it was not good enough. That there was not a market for it. That the parenting market was too hard to crack. That my writing was a bit too real. However, despite all these comments being like tiny daggers to my desperately ill mind and soul, I carried on regardless.
I just kept going.
Then after what felt like a thousand rejections (because it literally was). In the space of a week I received emails from two agents wanting to meet me as they thought my book “had legs” and could be “the next big thing”. Proof to me that I was right to keep going. That this soul destroying process was going to be worth it all in the end.
All of a sudden after a couple of successful meetings I had an agent, we had a plan and despite still being mentally ill, I was one step closer to being a published author. Things were looking up. My writing stars were alligned…..
However, not for long, as sure as the world turns so did my luck and my chances of ever becoming an author. During an incredibly excruciating meeting I was told in no uncertain terms by my agent that I was not going to be published, that my writing had been rejected by all the publishing houses (YES I SAID ALL!) and that I should give up on pursuing it and instead stick to blogging as I was never going to get published. For all intents and purposes, I’d yet again reached the end of the line. Had come to a dead end. And the dream of becoming an author was was well and truly over.
Any normal and sane person would have taken this level of rejection and “professional advice” on the chin. Would have then cried for a thousand days and vowed never to write a single word again. Now, don’t get me wrong, part of me did want to do this and did do some of this, to some extent. However, the bigger part of me instead, just kept going. And I have no idea why as I was so ill and so entrenched in looking after two small babies that I should have crumbled into a billion pieces along with my dreams of becoming an author and waved the white flag on it all.
But instead, I just kept going.
Now my husband, family and friends will all vouch for the fact that I’ve never been that normal and the fact that I was seeing demons around the house at the time, will vouch for the fact that I was definitely not sane, so there really was only one thing left for me. I decided to hell with everyone who had told me I was not good enough and (a year later, after finding my manuscript, during a spring clean of the kitchen) decided to publish the first part of my book on my blog. After all, I had nothing to lose. All, I ever wanted to do, through my writing was to help other mums feel less alone and to raise awareness of the awful things that can happen to your mind after becoming a mum. So I thought to hell with any publisher who was going to get in my way of doing this. To hell with anyone who was going to stop me from keep going.
So, that’s what I did. I published the first bit of my book on my blog and it received such a great response from fellow mums, that it was picked up by the national press billing it as “The parenting book to risky to be published” and this then attracted the interest of a couple of leading publishers who had previously rejected the book and my writing. This surprising turn of events resulted in me being offered a publishing deal with the book being published in the UK last year.
Since then, the book has received amazing reviews and has helped lots of fellow mums and even became a best-seller on Kindle. However, the battle to get the message of the book out there continues as at times getting support for the book feels like pulling teeth. And I want to be real and honest with you all abut this as, I think it’s important to highlight the realities of making a dream of yours happen and that it’s rarely a great big “tah-dah”moment where you get to sit back, take your foot off the gas and feel like “my work here is done”. Getting the support for the book and raising awareness of it’s important message of; “Empowering every mum to take care of their maternal mental health and to be able to talk about all areas of motherhood – NO judgement” is still something I am battling with as I am an “unknown author” without a big marketing budget. I am still getting knock backs, I am still getting told “N0”,I am still on a rollercoaster of “almost there but not quite” and I am constantly being told by the professionals that if I’d been on a reality TV show my book would be a Sunday Times Best Seller and a TV show by now.
However, despite all of this….
I just keep going…….
Today the book is launched in the States. Which means that today, I get to say that my “unpublishable” book is published not only in England but in America too. Due to the circumstances surrounding my book (i.e. me being mentally ill) and coupled with the rejections, knock backs and road blocks I’ve received along the way, it’s taken me a hell of a long time to feel anything close to proud of what I’ve achieved with it. HOWEVER, hand on heart I can now say that no matter where this road takes me and the book, as we venture into the unkown territory of the land of the free, that I am incredibly proud of the book and of myself for just keeping going.
And I will continue to do so.
As I have come to realise through this whole process that I have an inbuilt “charge ahead” button that does not have an off switch. And I want to tell any of you out there who have one too, to keep pushing it and to keep going.
Love Liv xx