As the Alternative Divorce Guide, I wanted to know more about Vivienne Smith's new book "The Single Mum's Survival Guide - How to Pick Up the Pieces and Build a Happy New Life" - and whether this was a book that would have helped me when I found myself suddenly single with three small children. So I asked Vivienne to tell me about how - and why - she came to write this book:
"They do say that everyone has a book in them - for me, this was certainly true although it has taken thirteen years before I was ready to share it with the world!
The event that triggered my inner author was when (as a mother of a three year old and a tiny three week old baby) I discovered to my shock that I was about to become a single mum. To say nothing had prepared me for the news is an understatement. Very little made any sense to me in those early days of survival and adjustment, save for a determination that I was going to survive and turn my life around, come what may."
Vivienne's description of the early stage of 'shock' rang true for me. I remember my hands shaking at the greengrocers and time seeming to move more slowly than seemed naturally possible. It was much later that I started using writing as a way to get a different perspective on what had happened to me. Vivienne however, used her writing in a very cathartic way:
"I found that writing was one of the only ways I could express the turmoil of emotions that now consumed me. A strong certainty had also begun to emerge in me - that when I got through this, I was going to somehow find a way to help other women in the same boat.
So I started writing - a novel at first, inspired by my experiences of single motherhood, divorce and internet dating. But then real life took over and I reluctantly shelved the project in favour of being a busy working mum."
Well not only can I relate to Vivienne's experience of motherhood taking over from other activities that are good for the soul - like many parents who love to write, I have a library of uncompleted works hidden away - but I also remember the surprise I got when my first essay on my experience of being a single mum was published in Juno magazine, and the feedback I received from readers formed the realisation that sharing stories can be not only cathartic for the writer, but also for the readers.
Luckily, Vivienne did not let motherhood stop her from getting back on track with her writing at a later date:
"One day inspiration struck and I felt compelled to rescue my pages from the shelf and give my manuscript a whole new slant. I realised that what single mums needed most (and what I had been craving at the time of my separation) was a combination of practical advice, expert guidance, inspiration, encouragement and support. Not only would I share my story and my tips on getting through, I would also speak to the many single mums I have gotten to know in my life and ask them to share their stories too... As a friend of mine said: reading this book is a little like having a wonderful group of women sitting round the kitchen table, sharing their tragedies and triumphs - dishing out advice, humour and hugs in equal measure.
And so "The Single Mum's Survival Guide - How to Pick Up the Pieces and Build a Happy New Life" was born!"
And that's just what you need in my opinion, when you are dealing with the early stages of single-parentdom. Sharing experiences with others who understand. It can be a terribly lonely time if all your friends seem happily married. It is that combination of shared stories (one of them mine, so I'm obviously biased), of practical information and most importantly of all - of inspiration - these are what I would have benefited from when I found myself suddenly single all those years ago. I didn't even know books like that existed back then. I'm glad to know that they do now.
Alternative Divorce Guide