'I feel so fat - even though I know I'm not.'
'I wish I was as pretty as her.'
'Ever since they divorced I feel angry all the time ... like I hate the world and want to hide away.'
'Some days I go without meals to try and get down to a size 6.'
The above quotes are taken from some of the many emails I've received from readers of my young adult novels.
All from different teenage girls living very different lives but with one thing in common: they feel unhappy or unable to be their true selves.
There are many reasons we can end up afraid of showing our true selves to the world.
:: Pain and rejection can make us rush to hide behind protective masks.
:: Tough times can cause us to lose sight of who we really are.
:: And then there's the relentless pressure from the fashion industry and media to reach their images of air-brushed, starvation-inducing 'perfection'.
:: Not to mention the glossy world of celebrity that we're all supposed to aspire to.
Two years ago I had a dream.
I dreamt of writing a book that would help and inspire girls and women to overcome these pressures and dream boldly, love passionately and live authentically.
Almost immediately my inner voice of doom started saying things like, who are you to do that? How would you know what to write?
But actually, who was I not to do it? When I was younger, my parent's divorce, my lack of confidence and my fear of getting hurt all combined to make me hide my true self from the world for many years.
It wasn't until I reached my late twenties that I finally started finding my way back to the real me.
And then everything began changing for the better.
My home life, my relationships, my work life - were all transformed.
And the best thing about it was, I no longer needed to look outside of myself or change myself to find happiness.
So when, two years ago, I saw a tweet from a publisher looking for new non-fiction titles I quickly fired back a message saying I had an idea for a book.
She asked me to tell her more so I sent her a quick pitch.
She asked me to work the pitch up into a synopsis.
So I sent her a synopsis.
Then she asked me to write the first three chapters.
And then she made me an offer and I set about writing the rest of the book, weaving together my own personal story with those of other women and girls, all interspersed with advice and techniques and empowering exercises.
True Face is being published by Faber & Faber on 2nd April 2015. You can find out more and pre-order a copy here.
But the more I talked about the book with other people, and saw their impassioned reactions, the more I realised that there needed to be more than just a book.
For True Face to work; for girls and women to overcome the relentless pressure on them to be something they're not, and to feel free to dream boldly, love passionately and live authentically, it needed to become a community.
And there needed to be a revolution in the way we view ourselves and live our lives.
And so my dream for the True Face website was born. A place where women and girls can come together to encourage and inspire each other.
A site full of advice and guest contributions and interviews ... and music!
I'm so happy to announce that the True Face website has now gone live - right here.
I have a fantastic guest interview to kick things off - one that will have you laughing, jotting down inspirational notes and possibly crying towards the end (I know I did!)
I am also looking for contributors, so if you'd like to submit any writing, photography, artwork, videos or music with a True Face theme, please take a look around to find out more.
This dream of mine has been a long time in the making and it's proof once again that if you keep the faith and take a risk and get your inner voice of doom to shut the hell up (!) anything is possible.
Here's to a world where we can all dream boldly, love passionately and live authentically.
Here's to starting a revolution!
SIDE NOTE: GIRL ONLINE
As you can probably imagine, there's a lot of work involved in plotting a revolution! As well as launching the book and running the website, I'll be touring the UK giving True Face talks and workshops. So, since some of you have asked, I'd also like to take this opportunity to confirm that because of all these added time pressures, I won't be working with Zoe Sugg on her second novel. It was, however, an absolute pleasure working with Zoe and I will be cheering her on from the sidelines.
DARE TO DREAM HAS MOVED
You can find the new site here.
Fresh new posts include:
15 Things I've Learnt From 15 Years as a Writer
Dear Dare to Dream: How can I overcome my illness and become a speaker
An Exciting New Chapter for Dare to Dream