On book writing: it’s not for me, and it’s an identity crisis for me

book writing

Oh hey.

Nice to see you again!

A while back, I took a breather from writing these “Karen’s Notes” so I could focus my writing energies on finishing the content for my book, The Accountant Marketer.

I meant to be intentional about it, explain what was happening, set some time frames. Maybe I’d take three months, or six, or the rest of the year.

It turns out I ended up taking nine months away from writing these. I wrote the last one in February. So I understand if you forgot all about them and are wondering why they’re suddenly appearing again.

I’m back because the book is done. It’s in the editing phase right now, and we’re looking at publishing in 2023. I’m hoping for May, because I feel like it’s a better month for a book launch than the summer, but if I’ve learned anything through this book process it’s 1) not to rush things and 2) I need to do everything I can not to hold the process back.

This week I met with the owner of the book editing company who is helping me move into the publishing phase of the book. We talked about how long things have taken, and why, and what I’ve learned along the way.

Here’s what I told her:

The right way is the long way. I’ve always believed this (for PF as well as for me personally) and the book process has been no exception. Lauren even told me I was probably the author who has taken the longest of all of her clients to get to the publishing stage. I heard that and didn’t even mind. I’d rather it done right than done rushed, and despite desperately wanting to get this book out there, I needed creative space along the way, and I gave it to myself.

Every book is an identity crisis. This book isn’t “personal” in the way a book about my life experiences would be. It’s a book for accountants who know they need to be involved in marketing and want to do that in the best way (and perhaps even come to enjoy it a little). And yet the process of writing a book, any book, causes you to look within. Figure out what you want to say. Cut out the extras, the fluff. Listen to the feedback from the people the book is for. Stand outside of it and look in. When I heard all authors take a long time but basically I’ve taken the longest, I thought you know what? That’s okay. The whole world shifted with an unknown virus and is still readjusting and reeling from it. I’ve completely changed the organisational structure of my business. And I’ve had some serious, major, life-and-identity-changing crises and trauma in my life which have required a great deal of reflection, therapy, and space to work through. Writing a book in the midst of all that changes you.

I don’t have to be like that other author or that other company. In the early days of my book process, seeing what others are doing (especially as it’s proclaimed on social media) used to really bring me down. I’m not writing fast enough. This is taking too long. They’re winning at life (or business or being an author) and I’m not. But now I don’t mind so much. They’re allowed to take as much or as little time as they need, too. Some people write a book in a few months. Some take a lifetime to do it. The point is not what they’re doing today, but what I am doing for me.

This book is not for me. I tell this to our clients all the time. “Your marketing is not for you,” I say. “Your brand is not for you. Your website is not for you. It’s for your clients, your audience.” I know this, I believe this….and yet the editing process of this book shocked me into the realisation of what that feels like to actually apply, in my own marketing. I sent a different chapter to 13 different clients, asking each one to provide feedback and suggestions, specifically about what I could cut out. Without exception they all said “cut out or reduce significantly the stories about yourself or PF”. When one or two people out of 13 tell you something, you take it with a grain of salt. When almost every single person says the same thing, you realise you’ve missed something. I have so many stories to tell I forgot for a moment the book was not about me. It says a few things about me – and I didn’t cut out everything – but it’s FOR the accountant. And the edited book is better, clearer, sharper because of it.

So I’ve made great progress. And we’re nearing the finishing line.

And it’s still not ready yet.

But it will be. And it is good. And I appreciate you being with me along the way.

Follow me


Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon