"There's a time for every purpose under heaven" it's said, and I've relied upon that truism many more times than I can recall in years past. It's become part of the philosophy by which I live my life and a personal mantra.
So when it came to my story about the seven years I spent as masseur and body-mind health-coach to Diana, Princess of Wales, I knew the book I wanted to write would come about in perfect timing. Now it has and I'm happy with the result despite the rocky path to get to where I can now hold it in my hands.
Truth be told I'd explored the project a year or so after Diana's death in August 1997 and produced a highly detailed synopsis as a result, but I'm glad I didn't write it then. I'm glad it wasn't the right time for me. I'm glad I felt the nagging doubts that made me put it aside.
Two or three times in the intervening years I pulled out my files -- not dusty notes wrapped in manila folders tied with hairy string but crisp digital pages which popped onto my screen -- and put them away again. The time wasn't right, you see. I can't say why but I just didn't feel it, inside, and since my chosen work and lifetime study has been the human body-mind process, I could hardly ignore what my gut told me -- could I?
This year though, the timing was perfect. Despite that I struggled to find an agent who would represent the book "No one wants Diana books any more" -- despite that all the big publishers, well their marketing and sales people anyway, turned it down "No market for Diana books any more" -- the feeling persisted. Now is the time. So I found some angels to provide the financial backing I needed -- note that please, lower case 'a', I'm not talking Guardian Angels here but I might just as well be.
In the London theatre world, the West End, 'angel' is the term used to describe those kindly souls willing to risk a small amount of money to back a play or musical that is not guaranteed to succeed. Get a host of angels together and you have a bunch of money which will enable you to offer your production to the public and, if your talent and luck coincide, you have a success and the angels get a return on their investment. It's an especially wonderful feeling knowing you have behind you the support of people who care, investing money and faith.
On 1st March I sat down at my computer and piled beside me fifteen books about Diana by a variety of authors.
I put my iTunes collection on random play through the speakers and, to the sounds of Mozart, Leonard Cohen and Groove Armada I settled in to put the life of the most famous woman of the twentieth century into a context only I was aware of.
My original outline anticipated about ninety thousand words. A little over four months later I finished the manuscript of just over one hundred and sixty thousand words and barely a one could be removed to make the book shorter.
I was surprised by the result of my efforts -- not by the four kilos extra in weight I was carrying, that was easily explained by day after day of the ten hour stints sitting at the laptop, and not by the length of the book, after all it had turned into a full biography and was no longer just the description of the seven years Diana and I had spent working together -- I was surprised by the story I'd written.
When I finished it I finally understood why I'd had to wait before writing it down. Any earlier and I wouldn't have had the detail, the facts only other biographers could give me, which provided substance to my own description of Diana's amazing metamorphosis. If I had written my book sooner I wouldn't have been able to show my readers the exhausting parade of difficulties she'd had to face and overcome in order to be able to follow her own path.
The writing itself was a roller coaster of high and low emotions, doubts and certainties, as I revisited the past and recalled an amazing woman; and discovered new evidence of the effectiveness of my work with her.
The result, I acknowledge, is a tale of phenomenal courage and determination, a unique history of who Diana was rather than just what she did, a source of insights for those readers able to recognise aspects of themselves and their own lives in Diana's story and an inspiration to anyone who is struggling with what seem like insurmountable problems. And that, of course, is what I set out to write.