I’m writing a book! My first book, Not Quite White, will be released in Spring of next year by Simon & Schuster.
This news has been out in the wild for a few months, but I’ve not really explained what it is or how this came to be anywhere – and is anything really official if there isn’t an official blog announcement? So! Not Quite White is about being mixed race, living in white spaces as a person of colour, and the effect of representation. You can pre-order it and everything! The book is a journey through my life where we look at two things: how mixed race identity is formed, and the long-term effect of not having adequate media representation. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know these are topics very close to my heart and so the book is a labour of love.
The narrative begins when I’m 4 years old and you then follow me up until the age of 28, navigating various situations with me and putting up with the everyday nonsense that people of colour in white societies face. I’m writing it, so whilst the topics are serious, it’s not a capital S for Serious book – it’s light-hearted in tone (expect lots of throwaway references) and it’s rooted in pop culture rather than being a really dense psychology book (psychology bits get broken down!). I wanted a book that was accessible and friendly, so that’s what I’m writing.
I’ve been writing the book for the whole of this year – originally it was supposed to be released in September but the turnaround that required (about 3 months) was just bonkers and, as you now know, there was a lot of other stuff going on. I am SO loving the process of writing. I’ve learned so much about myself – partly in terms of identity and how my mind works (essentially to write it, I’ve been criticially analysing my entire life) but also in terms of how I work best creatively. I’ve worked in music my whole life but a lot of the “traditional” paths in music – orchestral, session, straight composition – have never appealed to me. I had always thought that what I enjoyed was having lots of different things on the go at the same time, and maybe that was true at some point. What I’m realising NOW is that my skill, and what I enjoy most, is the process of connecting everything together.
There are so many parts of writing this book that feel like I’m scoring a theatre show or curating a WOLF PACK concert. Even in other mediums, the blogs I’ve felt most proud of are the ones that sit on strict foundation lines and incorporate photos and relevant language in a way that clearly expresses the theme. I don’t think you necessarily see all that back work as a reader (it’s not exactly a “show-your-workings” format is it) but for me as the creator, those are the ones I most enjoyed putting together – and I’m learning how this process I enjoy can be applied elsewhere. Being the massive over-thinking nerd I am, I can’t tell you how excited it makes me to wake up and do that all day.
And I’m good at it! I’ve been learning about different thinking patterns in therapy and how this sort of “spread everything out, connect the dots, repackage nicely” process is how I approach everything (apparently it is more common to approach a problem and attack that: cue wacky hijinks) so it makes sense that I work the same creatively. Going into the book I thought it might feel like writing a really long blog post. I was midway through the second draft when I realised I wasn’t merely writing a load of words – I was pulling together all these different things and making them into something new.
Whilst the last few months have been pretty dire, the actual process of writing a book has been wonderful. Honestly, I am relishing the whole process – people warned me about how it would get difficult near deadlines or I might get writer’s block or how I might get frustrated with the tedious editing, but that either hasn’t happened, or I’ve found the tedious processes exciting. I have always been a pretty big critic of my own stuff so being able to sit there in my own head and really pull apart what I’ve done feels more like a luxury than a labour. You want me to overanalyse the work I’ve made? Excellent!
I’m still learning about this industry but so far I feel happy here. It feels a lot safer than music and theatre – I already know I will be paid, and I already know the book will come out, two incredible measures of security which aren’t a given in music and theatre. There’s no funding bids and venue reaches and client meetings to come. I simply am writing a book. It’s been shocking how that simple level of security can affect you. The first few weeks I sent the odd message to my agent like “so if they scrap the book” or “if the fee changes” and she had to reiterate that this industry does NOT work in that way. Coming from the only professional I’ve worked in, a world of profit share, invoice-wrangling and “sorry we’re going in a different direction”, it felt faintly ludicrous that things could be so simple and concrete. And on a personal level, I love that somebody else is in charge of bigging up the work and I can just do it and not have to pitch myself. I love that somebody audits your work and checks in on how it is going – somebody else is as invested as you. And – let’s be honest, I love that you are paid, and you know how much and when it will arrive. If I could write books for the rest of my life, I’d be happy.
If you would like to read more, here is the official page, here is my literary agent, and you can pre-order from the official page or simply search my name or “Not Quite White” wherever you buy books! 🙂