Friday, 4 December 2015

I Wrote a Book

When’s the right moment to grab an opportunity? Always? Only when it’s right?  Perhaps depending on how much else you’ve got going on? This is a question I’ve asked myself a fair few times since beginning university. The reason for asking? For the last two years, I’ve been balancing my degree with something a little more unusual – a book deal.

I’ve referenced it in hints and whispers here (and elsewhere), keeping it ticking along in the background while continuing with the merry-go-round of essay deadlines, blog posts, journalism elsewhere, and that general thing of trying to maintain a life... But now, finally, it’s something I get to shout about here: on the platform that was instrumental in helping to kick-start it all. And that is thrilling indeed.

So, the basics. My book is called 'Notes on Being Teenage'. It’s being published in June 2016 with Hachette Children’s Books (Wayland imprint). It has a GREAT cover - not because it has my face on it…but because I love the design.  It’s going to be an actual, tangible thing that will appear in shops - rather than an endless series of documents and PDFs and emails. To say "I’m so excited" is to somewhat underplay my sense of enthusiasm.

The clue is in the title, by the way. It’s primarily aimed at young women aged 14+. Inside there are eight chapters, covering everything from body image to mental health to social media. Want thoughts on charity shop tips? Selfies? Consent? Difficult friendships – and wonderful ones? Feminism? Writing? Online communities? Family stories? How the fashion industry needs to stop peddling such a limited version of ‘fantasy’? Asserting your right to look (and be) fabulous? All that, and waaaaaay more.

There’s plenty of personal stuff in there too: from watching my dad experience depression, through to worrying about the possibility of remaining single forever and ever ad infinitum. But alongside the autobiographical, there are the voices of so many other young women. In the course of writing this book, I spoke to nearly fifty teens and twenty-somethings. Each with their own backgrounds, opinions, perspectives, and ways of seeing the world. Many are quoted. All of them influenced what I was writing about. ALSO, I talked to successful individuals from a variety of industries. There are Q&A’s with amazing people including Kate Nash, Louise O’Neill, Eleanor Hardwick, and Rosianna Halse Rojas. It has been a labour of love, but such a worthwhile and satisfying one too.

Earlier today, the cover was officially announced by Maximum Pop Books (see the feature here). On there, I wrote this about the book:

“Basically, the entire publication is one big, sprawling set of ideas, essays, lists, interview, stories, bits of advice, and a whole load of notes on what it means to be teenage… I wrote it because I think that young women are brilliant - because I think their voices and concerns and ambitions should be taken seriously. I also wrote it because I wish I’d had something a few years ago that didn’t patronize me, or package up my experience of being teenage into a number of bullet-pointed ‘Issues’ with a capital ‘I’.”

There are plenty of other reasons for writing it too. You’ll be hearing more about some of them in the coming months. For now though, I’m taking a moment to revel in a mix of relief, pride, and anticipation (a little nervousness too, admittedly). I have spent so much time inside this book, reading and thinking and talking with people and writing and revising and editing and polishing, that to get to this point feels utterly magnificent.

I don’t go in for easy ‘inspirational’ sentiment, so I’m not going to say that writing a book was “always what I’ve wanted” or a “dream come true.” I will say this, though. I love writing. I think words are the most wonderful, pliant, exhilarating medium – much as they can be frustrating, at points. To get to write something like this has been a privilege. I’ve had this blog since I was 14, and have been doing journalism on and off since I was 16. I have been given some extraordinary opportunities along the way, and worked bloody hard for others. A mix of luck and graft, if you will. At 20, I can see just how much there is left ahead to learn and work on. There’s an awful lot of possibility ahead. This book feels like the first, wonderful step along the way, and oh I can’t wait to share it.

You can preorder Notes on Being Teenage here, and I'm sure I'll be tweeting plenty about it too. 

The cover was shot by the brilliant HarleyMoon Kemp, with Lulu Plews doing an EXCELLENT job on make-up. Huge thanks to everyone at Hachette, especially my editors, and a special big thank you to Diana Beaumont at UTA - I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful, warm, smart literary agent. 


Kristabel Plummer said...

Congratulations! This sounds like it'll be a really interesting read, I'll be buying it for my little sister (and pinching it off her too)!

NRC♥ said...

Well done doll!!
Super proud

Melanie said...

Writing "Congratulations!" I fear may "underplay my sense of enthusiasm" on this fantastic accomplishment. I love the cover too. I'm excited to find out more about this younger generation of brilliant women. You have a will of steel to have kept this under your hat for so long. heh. Well done!!

mariafelicia magno said...

congrats dear..thi is a great news
kisses said...

YAY! This overgrown teenager is totally getting her hands on your book. What a tremendous achievement :)

Lally said...

Yahoo! I'm so glad to see it finally. It's so so exciting. I know so many teens who will appreciate this (and will probably be recieving a copy from me for their various birthdays!) So many congratulations to you. It truly is an awe-inspiring achievement at the age of 20! Xx

Closet Fashionista said...

AHHH! That is so exciting!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! You are the perfect person to write a book like that, and it is definitely needed. I could have used soemthing like that in my youth, although I'm sure it will still do me good now, haha.

Porcelina said...

What a fabulous accomplishment! It sounds like a sort of guide to being teenage in what is a very different world now with social media and such. Well done xx

Ivana Split said...

what a lovely suprise!!! Many congrats. Now, I do remember you mentioning something...It sound like an amazing book, exactly the kind of book that needs to be put other. I do feel that young need guidance more than ever...and a book written by such a brilliant women as yourself is a great place to start.

Fashion art and other fancies said...

Warm and joyous congratulations to you! So proud of you!

Insomnia said...


Hope I'll be able to get my hands on the book somehow, I am really looking forward to reading it!


Vix said...

That's absolutely brilliant news, I'm so excited for you. xxx


Well done you, you managed to stay on top of blog posts, school work, and keep this amazing opportunity concealed until the big reveal. I also really like the artful book cover. Congratulations! x

Alyssa G said...

This is awesome! Congrats!
xx Alyssa

Lola Byatt said...

YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! I am so excited for this book, huge huge congrtulations, I am pre-ordering this!! and June can't come quickly enough, well done! xx

Izzy DM said...

So many congratulations! I cannot wait to purchase a copy for my daughter, so she can benefit, as I have, from your lively, vibrant perspective and precocious wisdom. And of course I'll read it, too.

Reading this post, I cannot repress my big sister/ newly mommy urge, so please forgive the unsolicited advice. Here's the one thing I would have told my younger self: be single for as long as you can. Before you know it, I promise you will be either married or in some kind of very committed relationship, whatever your heart wishes or prefers, and that is wonderful but has its own challenges and many attendant compromises. Enjoy your independence... it really won't last forever, and of course compromises and routine are not a horrible thing either, not at all. Each phase-- relationships and compromise vs. independence and taking on whatever challenges you want without giving them a second thought-- are beautiful in their own right. I just had a very, very short phase of being independent and free, so I always urge younger friends to take their time. I met my first serious boyfriend when I was 20 and gave up two scholarships to study all over Europe in order to stay near him. On one hand, if I changed a single thing, I would not have my two beautiful children, so I don't really regret anything, but on the other, I wish I had worried more about having as many experiences as I could versus having a romance and fast-tracking into adult life. I think romance will be easy for someone gorgeous and talented like you... It's really the experiences and memories you're making right now that are priceless.

Okay, my unsolicited two cents! Anyway, can't wait to read this at last!

Much love,

Bree Aylwin said...

Wow congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment

Miu said...

I won't pre-order the book because I don't use amazon to buy books, but as soon as it's available I want to get my hands on it :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Rosalind. I'll order a copy through my local bookstore. Looking forward to reading this first book, after having enjoyed your blogposts for a few years now.

Anna said...

And this will open the door to your future book-writing career, which is so obviously yours for the taking - you are such a compelling writer!

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Now I see your book! I am beyond excited for you!

I am really trying not to fill this comment box with endless exclamation points, but it is difficult not to. Dedicating your book to the teenage set is brilliant. Seeing a young mind blossom and flex creative talents - as we have all witnessed with you -- it just makes the heart burst! One of my projects this year was to engage young people (11-14) in the creative arts: choreography, photography, film, literature, music composition, and visual arts. One 11-year old submitted a mind-blowing, short story. Would you believe - his parents thought he did nothing but stay in his room all day and play games. They knew little of his fertile imagination and talent with words! The entries in the other categories were equally astonishing. It is simply heartening to be audience to the next generation's creations.

Congratulations on your book! I think my daughter will relish it as much as I will!

Xx Jenny

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