Several months ago I decided to write a book. Actually, several years ago I decided to write a book – but life was busy and the time was never quite right. But last October everything seemed to slip into place and I disappeared to Brighton for three days to start writing what would eventually become The Boy from Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD.
The book is the story of my life with my son, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the age of six. He’s been excluded from school twice and now attends a marvellous special school; we’ve tried all sorts of diets and food regimes before accepting that medication was the key; and we’ve had all sorts of adventures along the way.
I first thought about writing this book right back in 2005 when Daniel was diagnosed. I did lots of research and read everything I could get my hands on – but there was nothing that really spoke to me. All the books were American, or written by medical professionals – or both – and what I wanted was a book written by someone just like me, someone who could reassure me that life would get better and there was a bright future ahead for my son. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I vaguely wondered if it was something I could perhaps write myself … one day …
Since 2000 I’ve kept an online diary so when I decided to write this book I printed it all off and searched through for all the information I’d recorded about Daniel. There were things in there I’d forgotten all about – for example, his obsession at the age of three with Only Fools and Horses, leading him to call everyone a “dickstick” – and I quickly found myself highlighting sections and making notes, and gradually various themes became apparent. Those themes went on to form the chapter headings and I used mind mapping to expand on each one, adding notes to remind me what I wanted to include.
I had a feeling that I’d never get started on writing while I had family and clients and housework surrounding me so I went off for a writing sojourn and managed to put around 13,000 words on paper (or rather, on my iPad!) – and once I’d made such a good start, it would have been crazy not to finish it. Over the next few months I wrote a thousand words here, five thousand there until eventually I felt I had something resembling a book – not a very long one, admittedly, but definitely something I could be proud of.
The next step was to send this draft manuscript off to a few “beta readers” to get some feedback. After all this was my story – a very personal story – and though I’d tried to include tips and advice I was worried that it would be too personal and not really of interest to anyone outside the family. Fortunately the feedback was good and there were some suggestions made for extra information and new chapters that helped shape the finished product.
I decided to set aside a day to do nothing but work on the book, so one Tuesday morning in February I printed off the manuscript and read it through, making notes as I went. Some chapters remained much the same but others were rewritten or were expanded to give more information. I also did “interviews” with my children so I could include chapters on ADHD from the perspective of the child and the sibling. At the end of a very long day I had a feeling I was nearly there …
But then I sat on it for a couple of weeks. The book was so close to being completed, but something was holding me back – maybe fear at what people might thnk when it was out there in public. So I made a decision – I was going to make a public announcement about the book, I was going to set a date for the official launch and then I’d have to get it completed and published, wouldn’t I? I did some calculations, planned backwards, worked out was was realistic – and organised a virtual launch party on Facebook for 6th April 2013. From there on I went into action overdrive – over one weekend I added a resources section to the book, commissioned a cover design and built a website. The finished manuscript went off to the proofreader a few days later, review copies went to various charities, I did the formatting and uploaded it to Amazon as both Kindle and paperback and ordered 50 copies …..
And so one day this week I got an email to say my order had been despatched. I tracked the parcel online as it went from the printer in Charleston, USA to a hub in Cincinnati to be flown to East Midlands Airport, driven to a distribution centre in Swindon and then finally delivered to my door. And I think you’ll guess from the look on my face that I’m pretty pleased with the finished product!
I sold enough copies on pre-order to order three times the number of books I needed, and I’m doing a special offer price of £6.99 plus postage on my website (and your copy will be signed, just in case I’m ever famous!) until Monday. You can also purchase it on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.
Thee’s also the virtual launch party, to which everyone is invited. It was meant to be in a couple of weeks, but given that the book is here I’ve brought it forward to tomorrow. You’ll find all the details here.
And with this book comes a whole new chapter of my life. I’m giving talks about publishing on a shoestring at Networking Women Witney next Tuesday and 4Networking Witney in May – and I’ve also been invited to speak at a big ADHD conference in Liverpool later this year. And there’s also something very exciting in the pipeline …. involving TV ….. but I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement and would have to kill you if I told you. But watch this space and all will be revealed when the time is right!
It’s been a long old journey – in many ways – but one that I am immensely proud to have taken. If you have any interest in ADHD/special needs or you know anyone who does please do let them know about the book because I really think my experiences and advice can help other people. And if you have a book in you – whether it’s in your head or on your hard drive – let me know, because I’d love to help you make it a reality.