Challenging The Monkey – Part III -the final part

Our family really hit it off with Steve Biddulph’s family – our girls formed really good friendships with Steve and Shaaron’s children and within a couple of weeks Steve had read the manuscript of The Male Agenda and offered to help me make it into a much better book.

He taught me how to bring life into it and I shall be forever grateful to his literary expertise and care. We agreed to differ on a few things – he felt too much of the book applied to women as well – but the truth in my consulting room year after year was showing me that much of what applies to men does apply to women as well. Men are not from Mars! My feeling is that this whole Venus/Mars concept can be hugely disempowering as individuals can use it as a ‘get-out’ clause when challenged to make changes. “Oh but I can’t do anything about how I am – you see I’m a bloke and us blokes come from a different planet to women”.

The resulting manuscript was ready. I sent it off to the only literary agent I knew and Steve said it was OK to mention his name. With this sort of help flying into my world I had no doubt that the agent would ring me immediately with an offer to sign me for loads of dosh. It was all so meant to be.

But it didn’t quite work out like that.

What came back was the most stinging, personal rejection letter that even my time in the music business had not entirely prepared me for. The agent raged at me. How could I dare write about such subjects in this way.

I was shocked. I showed Steve the letter later that day. His reaction? “You’ve probably got the equivalent of a hit record there Barry! You’ve touched his buttons”. Hmmm. I hadn’t quite seen it like that.

Reassuring though Steve was, I felt I needed time away from my baby. I put him to sleep for the winter, save one or two manuscripts that had gone out to friends. Even though we thought we needed the money that a publishing deal might bring, I resisted the monkey’s desire to take more action.

During that winter, encouragement, gratitude and support came back from the men and women that were reading those initial manuscripts. The following spring I unwrapped my baby again and took a whole new look at him. He was beautiful. Yes there were things that I could change to soften him a bit, but basically my book was saying something that I knew needed to be said.

There was still no clarity as to how this book would get out there. Then, one morning I woke at about 5.30am. I looked across at my youngest daughter who was still sharing a bedroom with us. She looked so beautiful, so innocent, so at peace. And that’s when it hit me. I hadn’t written anything on the subject that was probably closest to my heart. Being a father.

I crept out of the bedroom and into my office. I knew what I wanted to write. It was quite simple. The one thing I really wanted to get through to readers was the thing that had been most significant in my own life in recent years. That it is who you are 365 days a year that most profoundly influences our children. I knew my girls were benefitting enormously from now having a mum and dad that were more relaxed, that were having fun (how important is that to a kid?) and were supporting each other far more equally. And I knew that if our girls saw us enjoying adult life then they would be far more likely to embrace approaching adulthood with joy and anticipation. I finished the chapter in a matter of days.

The next morning I received a phone call from a relative who previously had experienced major financial deprivation. She had just received an inheritance and wanted to help me to get the book printed! A more unlikely financial source I could never have predicted! It was at that point that I knew the book really was complete.

Since then, this incredibly organic process has continued. Support has continued to come from the most amazing sources. A series of ‘coincidences’(?!) led to Robert Holden, founder of the Happiness Project and author of several successful self-help books, enthusing about the finished manuscript. Dr William Bloom, trustee of Findhorn for many years and successful author, also lent the book his full support. When finished copies eventually rolled off the presses last summer, the next stage of my baby’s life had already begun – it was learning to walk and speak for itself!

We did no advertising. We sent out press releases to major papers and magazines but received no interest. Well let’s face it, to these people we were nothing. Copies just went through word of mouth. This time, unlike my music business days, there would be no hype. If this book had a journey to travel, I wanted it to do it of its own accord. My monkey? Don’t ask what my monkey wanted.

And here I am over a year later and the momentum is clearly building. This gentle process has taken my little baby across Europe, America, Australia and the Far East. This summer he was selected for distribution to all of the UK prison libraries. We now have information distributing to all national libraries (please feel free to go and ask your local library to order a copy!) and are hopeful that they will also follow suit. And, in spite of us not being a big publisher, three magazines all expressed interest at much the same time this autumn, one of which of course was The Mother Magazine. And one of the surprising things has been that it has been women who have been particularly active in spreading the word about the book – something I had not anticipated when writing it!

When I started writing this article I thought I would tell you all about the book and its contents – you know try to sell it a bit to you. But this came out instead.

My monkey’s not at all happy with me…

©2008, Barry Durdant-Hollamby

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Barry Durdant-Hollamby is the founder of The Art of Change , a UK based organisation specialising in helping individuals and corporations to effect sustainable, holistic, positive change. He works intuitively on a 1-1 or group basis and also conducts many talks and seminars - all without notes or preparation! Barry is also the author of three books the latest of which is The Male Agenda - a book which seeks to inspire men to create greater life balance and happiness. He is the father of two daughters and lives in the South East of England. Contact E-Mail

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