I had always wanted to write a book. When I started as a journalist over a decade ago, I used to think, "One day I won't be doing this. One day I will write a novel!" I had romantic ideas about sitting in a shed in the garden and typing away as the flowers grew and the birds sang. But years went by and nothing happened - no inspiration, no time, busy working. Then, in the spring of 2005, I was contacted by an agent who suggested I write a novel. Somehow, in a spare room in a barn somewhere near Christmas Common, the world of Samantha Smythe, chaotic mother of three, came into being. My agent sent some chapters to Penguin who loved it.
That was just over a year ago. Since then, much has changed. I have rewritten the book, argued over the title and the cover and got obsessed with trying to make it a success. In the middle of all this, I found out I was pregnant and everything took on a new meaning. Somehow the success of this book became intertwined with the success of my pregnancy. I took everything as an omen. "If I am having a girl (I have three boys), the book will be a success." "If my 20-week scan shows nothing alarming, the book will be a success."
I started devising, along with a press officer from Penguin, a strategy of writing articles to promote my book. It seems to me there are two choices - do nothing much and let the book speak for itself, or work yourself into such a tizzy that you are prepared to sell your soul for publicity. I went down the latter route. So far I have written about my hair, my pregnancy (twice), my ex-partner who is the father of my eldest child (just like my book!), having relationships with younger men and older men, giving birth at home, having a girl after three boys, how to keep chickens (obscure, I know), women who have children with more than one man, why my partner is a better cook than me, why my partner has chosen to be a house husband, the future of yummy mummies, what defines a pushy parent, a short story about finding love at an auction, a piece on what advice I'm going to give my daughter and a letter to my poor dead father. I have covered the market from Eve to Tatler, Red to Marie Claire, Co-op to Sainsbury's.
I can almost no longer stop myself. I have bombarded radio stations with my prattlings. The people at the Nick Ferrari show on LBC are especially nice to me and I have got up twice at 5am to drive there and review the papers. I have done a piece for Radio 4, lots of local radio and am still hassling Radio 5. I have not been very successful when it comes to television, though. I am not well known enough.
Now I am waiting for the reviews and I couldn't feel more nervous. So far the book, The Invisible Woman, has had some good reviews in women's magazines. It has been described as "mum-lit", "hen-lit" and "a high-octane" read. However, one reviewer also said my prose was "breathless" and the book was "fairly funny". I burst into tears. The next day my midwife came.
"Your blood pressure's up," she said, looking worried. "Are you stressed out?" I looked at her. I thought, "Hey, maybe there's a piece in this." That's how bad it had got.
So now it's pretty much make or break. I hadn't realised how much I cared. I hadn't realised how hard I've worked and how much this means to me. I keep telling myself I'm a journalist, I should be used to putting my head above the parapet, but when it comes to this novel, I am not. I am as super-sensitive about it as I am about my unborn child.
We have had a book launch. All my friends and family were there and it was a lovely night. But when I came home I dreamed I was in a bookshop and that my friends and colleagues were pelting me with copies of The Invisible Woman - all clean and new - left unsold on the table.
'The Invisible Woman' by Lucy Cavendish is published by Michael Joseph on ThursdayReuse content