Staring into the screen of the laptop had become my new form of meditation. It took a matter of seconds for my mind to become as blank as the white sheet in front of me.
All of the ideas I had when I was out walking the dogs, in the shower or driving home from yet another mission to find the perfect notebook that would change my life forever, had disappeared. Even when I had the opportunity to make notes, I would look down at them and they no longer make any sense.
How does anyone start a book, never mind finish it?
The meditative state quickly shifted to frustration and then into a minor tantrum. ‘What’s the point? I would say to myself, slamming the laptop closed and quickly finding something that I ‘should’ be doing instead.
Fast forward a couple of years.
I received a letter. The letter was from a fifteen-year-old. A young woman who had been abused had reported her abuser and was about to start her final year of GCSEs as she waited to face the person who abused her in court. This young woman took the time to write to me and tell me that my book had helped her. She had support, but nobody her age she could talk to. She said that her friends didn’t know what to say, despite trying their best and while the police and charity support she had accessed was invaluable, they were all adults. Dani, the main character in my book, had become her friend. ‘It was like she really got me. She was saying the things that I’ve been trying to say to people. I know she’s not real, but I felt like it’s not just me going through this, by myself.’
That’s the point.
I know it might not sound too ambitious, but I always thought that if I could help one person to feel less alone, less isolated and try to make them smile, then my book had been a success.
This is why personal stories and sharing experiences are so valuable. Sitting with a book can transport you into another world. In that world, you can find the people you need to listen to, people who can articulate your innermost thoughts and feelings, people who ‘get you.’
It was Brene Brown who wrote, ‘shame cannot survive being spoken, it cannot survive empathy.’ Shame, in the widest sense of the word, is something many of us experience and it’s not easy to find true empathy. We can find it when other people share their stories when other people speak out.
There is untold power in sharing our experiences, in sharing our stories. To do this in the form of a book means that we can reach people in a way that is safe for them, in a way that can speak directly to them.
It’s just not easy to get started. It’s not easy to carry on once we have started and it’s not easy to get it finished! It’s not easy to write a book but it is most certainly worth it.