Book Club, Thoughts & Experience

The ECBC Book Club: One Tooth Luce by Luce Watson

ECBC Manchester hosts a regular online book club that focuses on books/poetry/blogs that help those living with a mental illness. If you would like to suggest something for our next club please do get in contact.

This month we review local legend Luce Watson’s book One Tooth Luce – an honest reflection on an adventurous year alongside a pandemic. Hilarious, raw, educational (it taught me to be careful about where I step) – I could not resist writing about it and its brilliant author.

“I hope these chapters entertain/inspire/educate you into realising you’re not alone in being an absolute f**king mess.”

Luce Watson is the author I needed in my life in 2020. 27 years old and from Manchester, Watson has written ‘One Tooth Luce’ to share her year’s ups and downs to provide entertainment to those who may require it, which is pretty much most of us these days.

In Feb 2020 Watson fell flat on her face outside a Jonas Brothers’ concert and lost one of her two front teeth… which is where our story starts but unbelievably is only the beginning of a very complex year. We follow Watson from that eventful day to present day and whilst reading I felt like I was living her life alongside her.

Watson discusses openly about how her mental health dipped during this time and how she previously has dealt with her anxiety and depression. I appreciated how she allowed herself to be vulnerable, but somehow at the same time made us want to howl with laughter. Watson gives sound advice about looking after yourself, both physically and mentally and how we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for needing that break and space. It’s all about a healthy dose of self-love and self-care ya’ll.

“Rest is important for our mental and physical health and we shouldn’t be ashamed to admit when we need a break.”

Within this hilarious book is also small windows into Watson’s past and difficulties at school. She takes this opportunity to point out how we all seem to naturally compare ourselves to other people – which in the long run is pointless. We all find ourselves wanting to change sometimes about ourselves, more often externally – but beautifully Watson encourages us to celebrate our bodies for just keeping us alive. A massive achievement within itself!

“I spent years as a teenager hiding from bullies who picked on me for the way I looked. I hated my body when I should’ve been thanking it every day for keeping me alive.”

I think what makes this reading experience even more of a unique experience for me is that I have known Watson (I just have to keep saying her surname as it makes me feel like Sherlock Holmes) since I was 4/5 years old. Reading about how she felt during our high school years is saddening but I’m sure relatable for some. I found my high school years hard and preferred to remain as invisible as is possible, if only I had known there was another weirdo like me sitting in our science classes wishing to be anywhere but there.

Watson’s first book of many (yes I’m saying this as a way of pressuring her into writing more) is only a snippet of her brilliance as a writer and natural story teller. I was left wanting more. I had many questions that I wanted to ask and if we weren’t in a pandemic I would ask them over a pint. It was the book I needed to end one hell of a year.

Q&A with the Author:

I couldn’t ask Luce some questions over a pint sadly #covid so instead I went very 21st century and asked them via email:

Firstly Luce, how’s the tooth?

The tooth situation is progressing very nicely. I have a brace at the moment to fix a couple of crooked teeth and then I will be getting my permanent fake tooth! It’s so exciting and I can’t wait to name her. As for my lost tooth, I hope she’s doing OK. Maybe found a drain to live in or something.

How did your lovely book come about? Was writing something you always wanted to do or was it a spur of the moment thing?

One Tooth Luce started as me writing about my lifelong anxiety, which is funny now because I took that whole chapter out during the editing process (I thought it deserved more work and maybe a different book). It was cathartic to write down my thoughts and in a way, release them from swirling around in my head. And then one day I thought, my year has been pretty unusual. Maybe I should put it out there without much thought about publishing. Writing the book helped me, and I was hoping it could help others too. I have a Masters in Creative Writing and it taught me an incredible amount and gave me confidence in my work.

How did you feel whilst writing the book?

It was a mix of emotions. This year has been mentally and physically exhausting, and as much as I may joke about it in the book, I am still very much healing from a lot of it. But for the most part, writing One Tooth Luce made me incredibly thankful. Because of a few unlucky events, I met some of the most wonderful people and now I couldn’t imagine a life without them in it. I realised how much I am loved by family and friends. And I realised how much I respected myself for the way I handled a lot of this year.

What did it feel like when your book was published and people starting reading it?

Unbelievable. I never imagined the response I received. The fact that something I wrote has touched so many people is one of the best feelings in the world. It goes to show that none of us are alone in what we are experiencing or feeling. The fact that so many people can relate to the events in One Tooth Luce shows we are all human and we are all trying our best to survive the things that are thrown at us. Hearing that people laughed while reading the book made me smile so hard. This year hasn’t been particularly great for any of us, but it’s nice to feel like I may have helped people in some way, even if it was just while they were reading the book.

In your book you mention your mental health, in particular during your hospital stay – how has your 2020 ‘adventure’ affected your mental health overall?

I’ve been lucky enough to be in therapy for the whole of 2020. I had a wonderful therapist who was my guide and friend for eleven months. She talked through a lot of my 2020 struggles and really helped me to rationalise them. My time in hospital was challenging because everything was heightened. I had been plucked from reality and thrown into an unknown world, isolated from home comforts and my usual coping mechanisms. For the most part, I remained positive in hospital but on the days when it felt overwhelming, it was tough. I cried a lot. But I was surrounded by the most incredible, loving and inspiring people. The women on my ward will always have a special place in my heart. They taught me so much and supported me when I was at my lowest, as I did with them. We became a family unit very quickly and because of that I was lucky to never feel alone.

You mention in your book about living at home and jokingly wrote about the reader judging you – do you think there’s a lot of pressure for people to reach a certain point in their 20s?

Absolutely. It’s something I struggled with for so long. I saw living at home as a failure of some kind, or that I would be judged in some way. When in reality, so many adults still live with their parents and it is nothing to be ashamed of. That’s why I wrote about nobody having their shit together, even when it seems like they do. We are all struggling in some way. There are so many challenges that are thrown at us during our twenties, and if you have the option of a supporting and loving home life, you should absolutely embrace it. I know I won’t be living at home forever, but I’m lucky to say I have supporting parents who have been there through job redundancies, break-ups, mental health challenges and injuries. Secretly I don’t want to leave my cat. There, I said it.

Last question – if you could, would you go back and change anything from the past year?

No no no no no no no. This year has taught me too much!! From the start of the year, to now, I have grown into the closest version of myself that I always wanted to be. I know I will never be perfect, but I have learnt how to accept myself for what I am, and that has been the most rewarding feeling. I lost two very special people in my life and their passing made me realise that life is short. We can all look back on this challenging year and say we survived. There is something very strengthening about that. Plus, if I changed any of my 2020, i wouldn’t have a book!!

You can purchase Luce’s book here via amazon on kindle or paperback.

Thank you Luce for sharing your story to help others. I cannot wait for the next book. Emma x

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