This book draws on a lot of life experience. There is my own experience, which I distilled and filtered into three books and then there is the experience of the thousands of newspaper readers who wrote to me when I became an advice columnist on a national newspaper, the Daily Telegraph.
I was offered the job as advice columnist partly because I had already written three books. The first one, “Everything I’ve Ever Done that Worked”, grew out of twenty years experience of self-exploration and journalistic research. The idea came to me during a dark night of the soul when, stumbling about in my insomnia, I tripped over a pile of my own notebooks and began to read. What I realised was that the notebooks were full of useful stuff. Wouldn’t it be a good idea, I thought, as I sat on my bedroom floor at four in the morning, to go through all these notes, take out the useful stuff and put them between two covers. I meant to make this book for myself, as a companion and aide-memoire in sleepless moments but a publishing friend thought this was a good idea too. It became a book of personal reflections, essays that I wanted to stimulate peoples’ thinking, encourage and comfort them and also give them something practical to do when they felt stuck or lost. Nothing pleases me more than when I hear from readers who treat this book as it was intended to be, as friend and companion.
I so enjoyed writing this first book that I decided I would write two more. Love and relationships are fundamental to the experience of being human so I wrote “Everything I’ve Ever Learned about Love.” In rebellion against the fixation with romantic and sexual love ¬ but reflecting on that too ¬ I trawled my own life for love in every form ¬ family, place, passions, friendship, children, art and nature and sex, of course. The book was revelatory and enriching for me to write and, I hope and am told, for people who read it.