At last, book publication day is here! My book, ‘Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health’ is on the shelves. I can’t quite believe it. Writing a book is a very long process and it’s actually over two years since I pitched my idea to Bloomsbury and they gave me the green light to go ahead and write this for them. That two years has gone painstakingly slowly at times and whizzed by in a flash at others.
Support for my book has come from obvious places but also unexpected ones too. My family has been utterly amazing. I think they have just about recovered from the experience. For several months, especially near the manuscript deadline, they had to really get by without me. The sight of me in pyjamas, huddled by the kitchen radiator frantically tapping away at my laptop at 6am on a Sunday morning became commonplace. I just had to find extra hours in the day and I’m not a night owl. One of my son’s who loves coaching my running would ask me every morning what I was planning to get through that day and he’d always check in with me in the evening after school to see if I had achieved it. My mum provided extended childcare and ironing services. My little sister Ellie drew the amazing illustrations which I adore. My step mum turned out to be a really good proof reader. My husband, well, there were certainly grounds for divorce but he stuck by me, understood why I needed to rise to the challenge and never once complained. He did seem even more pleased than me however when I finally handed it in and was heard to mutter, ‘Thank goodness for that’ … or words to that effect!
My wonderful friends kept me going throughout. They let me bore them stupid on long runs and shared a glass or two of wine with me when I needed a night off. They even gave me quotes about their periods and contraception; true friends!
What absolutely amazed me was the support I got from people I didn’t know. Social media has been crucial in the writing of this book. It has connected me with an audience of women who kept assuring me that this book was needed. That there was a place for it. That they had questions that needed answering and that I could do it. Two people really stick in my mind, firstly, Shona Thomson; adventure marathon runner and running coach. I was passing briefly through central London and we arranged to meet. We sat in a cafe in Victoria train station and talked about our enthusiasm for helping women to run. I left that encounter with a clear vision in my mind that I was going to write a handbook for active women. Secondly, Helen Murray; journalist and triathlete. We met online over a love of cake. I’d supported Helen’s first charity cook book, ‘Fuelled by Cake‘ and I’d mentioned to her that I was about to start writing a book to help women get and stay active. We met (in a cake shop) and Helen gave me advice, encouragement and shared contacts of women she knew would be happy to help me. I was bowled over by her kindness and it really helped me to feel positive and motivated.
This theme of people being prepared to help me continued throughout the whole two years. Right through from my followers on Twitter and Facebook to health and fitness experts and hospital consultants, no one said, ‘No’ when I asked for help. I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generosity of every single woman (and man) involved. Whenever I needed a quote or a story on a topic, a quick tweet or Facebook post lead to a multitude of women coming forward happy to share their often very personal stories. When I double checked that they were happy for me to use their quotes they all said that they were prepared to do so, if it would help others. That really has been the story throughout. There are women who’ve had these problems and they want to tell others about their experiences to make it easier for the next woman, even if that means discussing an embarrassing issue.
That’s one of my main hopes for the book. That it will serve as a springboard for conversations and discussions about taboo topics that pose real barriers to women being active.
I’m honoured to have contributions from household names such as Carol Smillie, Nell McAndrew and Sophie Raworth. Also wonderful content from sporting legends such as Kathrine Switzer and Chrissie Wellington. Experts in their fields, too numerous to mention here have given their time, expertise and words to make sure that Sorted is comprehensive and up to date with current evidence. I’m so grateful.
I’ve learnt so much about the whole book writing process. I owe huge thanks to the team at Bloomsbury. My editors Charlotte and Sarah have held my hand, had so much patience and never at any point made me feel that any of my ‘virgin author’ questions were stupid. They also managed rather spectacularly to fit in many thousands more words than I was commissioned to write because I just couldn’t find anything to leave out! Whenever I had a panic they offered calm words of reassurance and I always felt much better after speaking to them. It really has been a pleasure working with them and the rest of the Bloomsbury team.
So, here it is then. ‘Sorted: The Active Women’s Guide to Health‘. I’m very proud of it. I gave it my all. At times I thought my head was going to explode but I did it and I REALLY hope you enjoy it. I hope that it helps you to get and stay active. Do let me know. Use the hashtags #sorted and #activewomen and make sure you tag me into your posts.
If you would like to purchase a copy of my book then my readers can have a 25% discount if they order via this link to Bloomsbury and use the discount code sorted25.
My Oscars speech is over. Thank you and goodnight; I’m off to crack open the bubbly!
photo credit: Eddie Macdonald