A couple of months ago I said F**K It to something quite major and I didn’t tell you about it because I worried I’d made a big mistake. I was worried that it was a sure sign that self-help had made me crazy.
In April I was offered a book deal and I turned it down.
I was offered something that I’ve dreamt of my whole life and said ‘No, thanks.’
The offer came when I’d just got back from my uncle’s funeral. My lovely five star hot shot agent called me just after I’d got off an overnight ferry from Ireland and instead of thinking ‘Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god’ I just thought: ‘Oh.’
I put my apathy down to sadness but when I was sitting in the conference room of the big publishing house, a couple of weeks later, I felt exactly the same.
There I was having a meeting with a real life book editor who was saying nice things to me and offering me coffee and croissants, and instead of wanting to jump for joy it all felt wrong.
The publishers had ideas about what should and shouldn’t be put on the blog and how much publicity I could or couldn’t do around it – and even though everything they said was perfectly reasonable, it didn’t feel right.
I didn’t want anybody telling me what I could or couldn’t do – it seemed to go against the whole idea behind this project. I didn’t want this – whatever ‘this’ is – to belong to anybody else but me.
Around the same time I was also approached by a few television people who were interested in doing documentaries on the project. I had fancy meetings in fancy places and it was all great for the ego but my feeling after every meeting was ‘No’.
And so I said ‘No’ to everything and then tumbled into a spiral of self-doubt.
I was proud of myself for having the guts to follow my, well, gut – but I worried that I was crazy too. I’m broke and here are people offering me money – not mega bucks but good bucks – and I’m passing on it. I’ve always wanted to write a book and this was a big, reputable publishing house saying ‘yes, write a book for us!’ and I’ve gone, ‘no, ta.’
What I was doing made no sense, rationally.
Then I did F**K it last week and for the first time in ages I absolutely trust what I’m doing.
Unsurprisingly trusting your gut is big in F**K It land.
In Urbino we had a lot of conversations about why we strive for the things we strive for.
We want the big job because we hope it’ll make us feel better about ourselves. We want more money because it’ll let us buy nicer clothes and a bigger house, which in turn, we hope will make us feel better about ourselves. We want to impress others because we think that if other people like us enough, we’ll feel better about ourselves. But then we get to where we thought we wanted to be, that place we thought we’d feel good about ourselves and there’s still a hole and so we push ourselves more and more.
And on we go forever.
The truth is – and this is such a cliché it’s ridiculous – we have all we need to be happy right now. No matter what kind of situation we are in.
I was thinking about why I wanted a book deal in the first place – and basically it’s status, prestige and ego. I want to be able to tell people that I’ve written a book and I want them to be impressed. I want to tell myself that I have written a book and be impressed. I wanted the outside validation that what I’m doing is good. That I’m good. Enough.
But ultimately that’s bull. Good enough for what and for who? And who cares? The reality is that I’m getting up and writing every day and doing something I love (well, some days I struggle but that’s life). It doesn’t need to be a book or a film to be worthwhile.
Since starting this project my life been more weird, wonderful, moving, challenging, hard, fun, random and gorgeous than I could have expected. I’ve been having conversations and experiences I would never have imagined. I’m getting lovely messages from lovely people (thank you).
This is it – I don’t need anything else.
It goes back to that comment I made to my friend Rebecca when the whole talk of a book deal came up in February. I got all excited that the book would be made into a film and I’d be filthy rich and fantastic. ‘Imagine how much fun we’ll have!” I said to Rebecca while googling ‘LA beach house’. Rebecca’s answer will always stay with me: ‘But we’re already having fun, aren’t we?’
We were and we are. I am.
In Italy we were each asked to pick a tarot card type thing from a deck. I usually hate this kind of crap but the one I picked out seemed so perfect it gave me a shiver.
It was called Moment to Moment and this is what it said: ‘You can be in the present only if you are not ambitious – no accomplishments, no desire to achieve power, money, prestige, even enlightenment because all ambition leads you to the future. Only a non-ambitious man can remain in the present.’
And so here I am turning my back on ambition, on the things that make financial and professional sense. It’s scary. My life feels in free fall (just to be dramatic about it) but so be it.
John and Gaia say we have to trust the world is on our side and realise that we’re never really in control anyway. They say that when we let go good things happen. As soon as you let go of the wanting, planning and controlling, things fall into place. Amazing stuff that you could never have predicted or imagined can happen.
And yesterday their point seemed to be proved. I met with my lovely five star hot shot who told me I’ve been offered a book deal in Brazil. how random is that?! They aren’t worried about what I do on the blog over the rest of the year they just love the idea and want the book. So there you go. I’m going to be big in Brazil. Maybe.
Nothing’s signed yet, so no doubt things can fall through but just the very idea of a Brazilian book deal has tickled me pink.
I’m now googling ‘beach house Rio’ and going on a crash diet. Only joking. I’m sitting in my sister’s house in East London, drinking tea, listening to Stevie Wonder on the radio and looking at the roses in her garden. All is well, book deal or no book deal.