“It’s a no from us…”
“We’ve looked over Olivia’s work and a couple of pregnant ladies in the meeting said ignorance might be bliss on some subjects!!, so it’s a no from us”
“It’s so well written, however it’s too risky, so it’s a no from us”
“We loved her warm, engaging tone, but we’re worried about the lack of expert credentials So it’s a no from us.”
These were comments from leading publishers after reading my book proposal for a book on the realities of motherhood, four years ago. To say their comments and the consistent “No thanks” was soul destroying would be an understatement.
“A particularly devastating blow”
However, little did I know that my fragile self-belief was going to take a further battering a few weeks later when I was dropped by my agent and told my book wasn’t going to happen.
This was a particularly devastating blow as, the book and the potential of it being published, had been one of the only positive things that I had clung onto as I struggled through my second battle with severe Postnatal Depression and Postpartum Psychosis.
It had been the one thing, alongside my two beautiful children (then aged 2 years old and 6 months old) and amazing husband, that gave me some light through the darkness and a glimmer of the potential life I could be leading, once I’d managed to finally overthrow my demons.
“My mind was telling me I wasn’t a good enough mum”
It was a time where my mind was telling me and making me believe that I wasn’t a good enough mum, that I was a terrible wife and that my family would be better off without me.
My writing and the fact that people had said they enjoyed it, was the one thing I felt I was good enough at. However, hearing these words from my agent and the publishers, compounded my darkest fears of being a failure, sent me in a downward spiral and left me questioning “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
For me, writing had always been a form of escapism and therapy throughout my life and it really came into its own after becoming a mum.
Pre-motherhood, I’d felt fully prepared (I’d read every parenting blog, book and magazine going and had bought every “must-have” baby gadget). However, I soon realised that nothing I’d read had prepared me for the reality of being a mum and that there was very little out there at the time that spoke about the magical and the challenging in equal measure and without judgement.
From book group to Facebook to blog…
So I’d started to write my own articles on the realities of motherhood and set up a small reading group of fellow mums to share them over email. This reading group grew into a secret Facebook group and then became a blog offering mums a place to talk about and celebrate all areas of motherhood – NO judgement.
That gave birth to the idea of turning these articles into a book. Amazingly I managed to get the interest of an agent, the promise of a book deal and even the talk of a potential TV show. It gave me a purpose and made me feel as though the mental health hell I was living through daily was eventually going to do something positive, through helping other mums.
And then the bombshell from my agent.
“It was a terrifying time”
The group of amazing mums on my blog and Facebook group (along with the support of my husband), helped pull me through. It was a terrifying time of juggling my children, battling my mental health issues and my belief that I was not good enough for anything.
With support and encouragement, I continued to write my blog and share my experiences and eventually I started to accept the fact that being a published author was not the path I was on – that I was meant to be doing something different. So, I concentrated on taking care of my children and my mental health and wrote for the blog whenever I had time or felt well enough to do so.
“Sod the publishers”
About a year later, I was attempting to finally get rid of the “pile of doom” hidden behind the chair in the corner of the kitchen, when I found my book proposal in amongst the old magazines, receipts and letters that I’d “filed” there. For some reason I decided to hell with it and to publish the first section of the book on my blog with the thought of “sod the publishers”. If the book can still help at least one mum feel less alone and raise much needed awareness of maternal mental health, then what an amazing thing that would be.
I could never have predicted what happened next.
The part that I released, received such a great response from the mums who follow my blog that it was then picked up by the national press. Then the biggest shock of all came when two leading publishers, who had rejected the book a year earlier, approached me, interested in publishing the book, (the irony of this is still not lost on me today!).
“Juggling two tiny humans…”
And not wanting to sound like an annoying Hollywood cliché, but the rest really is history. Or should I say, history littered with overcoming a mental illness, juggling two tiny humans under two whilst trying to get the book finished and trying to silence the old demons trying to tell me I was kidding myself that I could pull it all off!
It’s been an incredibly gruelling, emotional and at times downright exhausting journey getting this book published. A journey filled with knock backs and rejection that has broken me and made me in equal measure. I am therefore, incredibly happy, proud and still in total shock to tell you that after all those knock backs, the “it’s a no from us” and being known as the parenting book “too risky” and “too honest” to publish, it’s all been worth it.
“This is for all the mums who have ever doubted themselves”
However, it’s not just for me. It’s for all the awesome mums who have supported me, every step of the way to getting here. It’s for all the people who took a chance on my writing when I first started out (MadeForMums was one of the first to publish my articles). It’s for all the mums out there who have ever doubted themselves or questioned how kick ass they really are. It’s for anyone who has ever been told “It’s a no from us”.
Therefore, my book is for you and EVERY MUM out there. For every mum feeling pressure to be perfect. For every mum questioning if they are good enough. For every mum struggling with their maternal mental health and not believing they will be well again. For every mum doubting if they can follow their dreams. For every mum doubting if they can do it.
Take it from me you can and you will!
“BONKERS – A Real Mum’s Hilariously Honest Tales of Motherhood, Mayhem and Mental Health is available to buy now on Amazon
Find out about Olivia Siegl’s Every Mum Movement