On October 19th 2017, I handed in my new book, How To Be Human: The Manual, to the publishers at Penguin. The agony of writing a book is not dissimilar to having a baby. Not that I ever pushed out a baby (I am of the Caesarean clan – I do not believe in any pain when modern surgery can do it for me. Though, I did have one contraction once before I screamed ‘give me the drugs now!’, so I can imagine how bad it gets).
While you’re pregnant with a book life can be almost blissful because you can shut yourself into your own world and flow. You can let go of distractions like cleaning your house or meeting people you don’t really like, because you are ‘writing your book’ and that’s the best excuse you’ll ever have to cancel everything. When I was writing while I was on tour I’d spread out my books and notes and turn that seat into an office as soon as I got on the train. People didn’t even want to sit next to me because I’d make them hold my books open and ask them how to spell certain words. They’d all move away so I had an empty four seats and table even during rush hour. I could look up and notice the odd cow whenever I needed a rest. Often, I missed my station because of a riveting piece of information delved out of my portable library, that I wheeled around the country in my suitcase. I’d often arrive at the theatres still writing up to walking onto the stage.
Each chapter of this new book ends with a discussion between a monk – Thupten, and a neuroscientist – Ash. We could make each other hysterical; not only are they brilliant people but also hilarious. I’d sometimes tell the monk to stop being so Buddhist, it was enough already. And he’d tell me “Suck it up, this is 2,000 years of wisdom”. He used to meditate around my house in those orange robes. Sometimes I’d trip over him thinking he was a fire hydrant. We even went to Cape Town together to write some of the book. It was important to not get too cold when writing about consciousness. And we’d go to hotels to have tea with scones while writing about who humans really are. It was quite civilized, if not indulgent.
Toward the end all I was doing was re-reading the book hundreds of times, mostly to make it funnier when needed and to count just how many words I had left to write. I remember seeing I had written 456 words, and subtracting that from 65,000 (how many I was supposed to write), on the first day. Aside from not being able to spell, I can’t count. I wrote the book in chapters so had to add all of them up to get a total. Even using a calculator every day my totals were different sometimes by 10,000 words. Towards the end you start pushing so you’re doing twelve hours a day for days (the pushing takes longer with a book). Then the editor at Penquin takes it away and does her edit on it. Then I got it back and had to take out most of her edits because she uses grammar and I don’t, so I have to make it bad English again like how I talk. Then we all read it a hundred more times and nitpicked our way toward the deadline. So, yesterday the baby was finally handed over for the last time. I wanted to put the 262 pages in swaddling but we only had a paper bag to hand it over in to the publisher, Venetia Butterfield, for her to nurture and put in a nice cover.
I’m now in mourning so I’m writing this blog to feel the keys beneath my fingers once again. The womb is empty I have nothing left to say. It’s officially born to the public January 25th. Then I will push that baby like a showbiz mother to to make sure it not just lives but sells like f..k.
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Ruby is on tour in the UK and Ireland this autumn 2017 with her #Frazzled Show. Tickets are still available – book quick. Dates have also just been announced for Spring 2018!
Want to learn more about mindfulness, and how it can help your mental health? You can buy Ruby’s no. 1 best selling book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled online and from all good bookshops.