Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
The latest in our interview series of authors over 50. Dee Coxon shares the inspiration behind her book, Polish the Diamond in Your Heart, how to reveal your unique fire and brilliance and use it to start a business in midlife and beyond.
I was born in the North East of England and have been self-employed since I was 18. After 30 years I left my vocational path and entered the world of academia, believing this was what I needed to support a career change. In the year I turned 50 I gained a Master’s degree, a teaching certificate, became a Grandma and lost my mother to cancer after a 2 year battle, during which I nursed her.
A quote by Rufus wainwright: you’re born twice, once at your birth and again when your mother dies had a profound effect on how I see and do things now, but it was a talk by Dr Brene Brown called why your critics aren’t the ones who count that gave me the courage to write this book.
When did you start to write?
In truth I began writing in a small way, years ago, although I never intended to become a published author. Firstly and after writing a eulogy for someone close to me, the people who read that began asking me to write for them and this included poetry related to life and loss, along with lots more eulogy’s. I also had lots of anecdotes recorded from my former life. These were about the women I’d met and the stories they shared, most of which were either hilarious, challenging or heart breaking and none of which I intend to do anything with, but they mean something to me so I’ve kept them. Officially though I began writing with the intention of being published, in August 2017, so fairly recently.
Biggest Challenge when deciding to write a book in my 50s
What have been the challenges for you?
Once I decided to write my book the biggest challenge was to get my family to understand this was a serious undertaking. They were delighted I was writing the book and had encouraged me to do so for years, but I think they thought I had a magic wand that would do the writing for me, because like many women I’m a giver and so I was constantly hijacked by their demands on my time. The answer to that was “night shift” where I committed to working through the night in order to meet my writing goals. The other challenge for me was, I’m a big writer, by that I mean in order to condense something I have to write it “all” first and then sift out the excess.
What did you do prior to this?
I was a hairdresser and beauty therapist with my own salon. A perfect environment to learn my craft as a story teller and advocate of women’s issues and where I realised very early on that I enjoyed helping women with their personal struggles, far more than I enjoyed hair and makeup and believe me, I loved doing hair and makeup.
When was your first book published?
My first book was self-published in August 2018. It’s taken me a whole year to complete including the publishing and launch process which is just as important as the book itself and a very arduous task for a first time author.
What is the title of your latest book?
What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
Because of my long term niggle to answer a different calling, having always known I was destined for something else, this meant starting a new business from scratch and one that was completely unrelated to anything I’d done before. The practical journey of setting up an online business was fraught with setbacks and mistakes for me because I didn’t know what I was doing so I learned and implemented a lot of the wrongs things before finally discovering the right things. On that basis I was inspired to write the book and share what I know because I don’t want other women to go through what I went through. By pulling back the curtain on the mess I made I’m able to offer readers a much shorter route to success.
What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!
Embarking on a journey like this, made me realise that so much of my future had already been shaped by my past although I wouldn’t find out exactly how or why until much later and as the result of a spiritual awakening, something I had no prior knowledge or experience of until it happened to me and to which I dedicate a whole chapter.
Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?
As the book is part memoir the key character is me. That said every other person in the book has impacted my journey for better or worse and is integral to the story.
As a transformational read the book appeals directly to midlife women who, after living one kind of life, are ready to live another, especially one that involves answering a calling that so far has been stymied for any number of reasons. And while it was specifically written for midlife women, I do know that men are reading the book too.
What do you like the most about the character/s you have created?
As the characters in my book are real, I like that the readers will see themselves within the pages and recognise many of the shared and lived experiences I reveal. Better yet they will also see that the second half of their lives can be designed as opposed to being lived on a default setting as it may be now.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
There are four key issues in the book and surprisingly they relate as two pairs. The first pairing is the term “midlife beginner” which in itself is an oxymoron given that one is a new while the other is halfway there however, that’s what its like going after a career change in midlife, for while we may be experts in one area we’re newbies in another and discovering how to blend the two is what makes the difference. The second pairing is this; no matter where you are in your business journey something is happening within the context of your life the two are inextricably linked. So the book reveals the links that already exist between life and business and how they are better referenced as one.
What do you want readers to take away having the read the book?
I’d like readers to know that ultimately: to turn your calling into a business you must have the professional competence to match your intuitive skills. If that sounds a bit daunting it really isn’t. It’s about knowing what you have to do, to get to where you want to be. This book shows the reader how to do that and what to expect along the way while getting rid of the myths and the fear.
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?
I had no plans for a sequel although strangely enough I recently dreamt that I had a collection of “Diamond” books on Amazon; the titles I could see on the page were Polish the Diamond:
In your kitchen
In your grand children
In your life
I’m just processing that dream sequence for now, but I do accept that with the overarching title Polish the diamond in your (fil in the blank) there is an opportunity for a collection, so who knows? Also, my book has been entered into the ” Kindle story Teller 2018″ competition
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
While I can only offer advice on nonfiction and particularly a transformational read, I would say;
- Believe that the world is ready for what you have to offer.
- Share the difficult stories because nobody’s interested in, or benefits from the easy stuff.
- Read- up, on the publishing and book marketing process and begin putting things in place for this very early on.
Thank you for taking the time today, I look forward to sharing my story with you.