Updated: Apr 28, 2021
The final changes to our book have almost been completed. Lesley and I have spent this past week reading our chapters out loud and agonising over every word and phrase, trying to make Alcohol Reconsidered as helpful as it can be for our readers before publishing, and that’s after the editor had finished with it! It’s now Lesley’s turn, my business partner and co-author of Alcohol Reconsidered, to tell us a little more about herself.
Now, I know the details, but I think it’s such an interesting story. Can you tell our readers exactly how Alcohol Reconsidered came into being? What sparked the initial idea?
Well Cate, as you know, it started really with my own drinking problem and to some extent, observations of how much my friends were drinking. You and I obviously go into a lot more detail in the book, but in a nutshell, it was just out of control. My drinking had gone from being ‘fun’ in my younger years to a nightly ritual. I was drinking at the very least a bottle of wine a night, and often more.
As the years rolled by, the amount I was drinking was increasing, and it was making me very unhappy and very worried. It was having a detrimental impact on my health and wellbeing and I was sick of constantly thinking about drinking. Having said that, I didn’t specifically consider myself to be an ‘alcoholic’ or want to give up completely. Partly because I didn’t think I could, and partly because there was some drinking that I enjoyed. I had to really think about what I was going to do about it because it was all very, very confusing. I concluded that I needed to question some of my beliefs about alcohol. Basically, I got really fed-up of shouldering all the blame for the problem I had and I just had a niggle that this wasn’t ALL my fault. I think looking back that I had and wanted to find some absolution, and to a comforting degree, I did.
Eventually, I learned to be much better at moderating, and without sounding too dramatic, it really was life-changing. I really wanted us to write a book that would provide some support to anyone who is a bit worried about their own drinking, because ‘drinking too much’ was already a problem for a significant amount of people, even before the pandemic arrived. For me, learning more about the history and science about alcohol really took away the fear I had and made it a lot easier to make changes.
I explained last week about what I got up to when we weren’t writing. It’s your turn now. What occupies your time when you’re not tapping away on the keyboard?
I’m glad you didn’t ask me that about five years ago because the only answer I would have had then would have been ‘drink wine’. Ha! In fact, when I think about it now, I was always proud of not having any hobbies. Teaching was so important to me, that I prided myself on spending all of my waking hours devoted to the children in my care. Ironically, I’d say it was this mentality that probably contributed to the end of my teaching career, but that’s another story.
The combination of the lockdowns and leaving teaching meant I had a somewhat forced opportunity to spend time on some of my own interests. Historically, and probably a bit bizarrely, I saw having hobbies of my own as being a bit of a luxury rather than a necessity.
My mum jokes that I’m a bit like Barbara from ‘The Good Life’ now, constantly growing things. My small but well-loved garden brings me a lot of joy and love just watching it change day by day, even in a cold April. I’m not exactly Greta Thunberg, but I do try as far as possible to look after my immediate environment, and plan as much for the bees as I can, and there is something about looking after the plants that I find soothing- if that doesn’t sound too nauseating.
I also dabble with painting and drawing. The painting in this blog was a commission that I did for a client last year. And much to neighbours’ annoyance I expect, I’ve started ‘playing’ the guitar. I still can’t manage ‘F’ though. As you know, I’ve also got my adorable son to look after, but getting him involved in any of my interests, has been a frustratingly futile exercise.
Last week you asked me why co-writing the book appealed. Can you tell us a bit about your own relationship with alcohol now? What are your thoughts? Shall we have a go at another title or two?
My relationship with alcohol now is a good one overall. In the book we look at the benefits of the pub and social drinking. When I was drinking ‘a lot’, I thought I was the only one, and berated myself for having no self-control. We explain in the book why we aren’t anti-alcohol and why people shouldn’t feel guilty if the drink has become a bit problematic.
As for writing another book, well to quote you CKC, ‘just one more’. I think that’s just inevitable. How we know each other now, compared to when we knew each other when we worked together as teachers feels very different to me. We’ve had to share some of deepest, darkest secrets, and you can only do that with someone that you trust implicitly. I think that we’ve delved so far into each other’s thoughts that there will always be an unbreakable bond between us.
It was a bit humiliating exposing my fears to you in the early days and confessing to the things I don’t like about myself wasn’t exactly fun, but you’ve seen and heard the absolute worst about me now, and I don’t just mean the drinking. You know how rubbish I am at the minor details and my lack of patience-other things that I am not proud of. I don’t think that anything that we could cover now that would be as emotionally terrifying, could it?
I’d say though, that if we write another book/s, it’s because we’ve got something important to say, not because we need to fill our time with some vanity project. We’ve got other ideas so it’s really hard to wrap this up without our minds wandering.
I’ve shared what I felt were the key messages in the book? Do you think I left anything out last week?
I think you summed it up very well Cate. The only things I would perhaps want to reiterate is that you can change your relationship with for the better even if you are drinking too much. I’d also want to reiterate that if you are drinking too much, it really isn’t your fault. Alcohol is a legal drug. We do aim to start changing the attitudes and perceptions of problem drinking in the book, but it isn’t going to happen overnight. I am determined that we will play our part in removing the stigma and shame.
And your advice to anybody thinking about writing their own book? Anything to add to my thoughts?
Know your ‘why’. Even if we only sold one copy of this book, I’d know why we wrote it and the messages we want the reader to take away. I’d advise that you drag your friends in to help if you can, but they will be too polite to tell you what needs improving. I’m really glad that we paid for a professional editor and I’m really glad that we keep reading allowed what we have written. Sometimes what you have written just doesn’t sound right when you read it aloud. If anybody wants to find out more, they can contact us directly and we’d be happy to share more.
What is your advice to someone thinking about changing their relationship with alcohol?
I would say that if you are thinking about changing your relationship with alcohol or if you are fed up of thinking about drinking, buy our book and follow our blog. If we can help you, we will. Change is completely possible and being realistic about what you can do is a great place to start, however small that gesture may seem.
That's great Lesley. I'm sure our readers will love to find out more about you.
Please feel free to comment. We'd love to hear from you.
Stay safe and well everyone.
Alcohol Reconsidered will be available on Amazon early May.
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Linkedin: Lesley Miller/Cate Kell-Clarke