Toni Tone | “My editors have been very effective in pointing out that there is a way for me”

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“I thought so: you can cry, and you can stay, and you can sit and be miserable about that person you thought was the love of your life. Or you can rebuild your self-esteem, and your state of mind, and your goals and self-concept.

Anyone who suffers after the breakdown of a long-term relationship can take courage in how such heartache has turned out to be the catalyst for a whole new career and a whole new life purpose for them. writer, speaker and content creator Toni Tone. Her significant combined following of nearly 400,000 on Twitter and Instagram was gathered after she began posting her pithy observations about relationships after returning from celibacy. Soon after, her popularity was spotted by Nancy Adimora, head of talent and audience development at HarperCollins, who approached Tone to write a book. The result is Wish I had known sooner: Lessons about love, a relevant and insightful self-help manual in which Tone, now in her 30s, distills everything she has learned from her experiences for the benefit of other young women, with the aim of helping them manage their own relationships. more effectively in the future.

When Tone and I speak via Zoom – her from the West London apartment where she recently moved in with her younger sister – I ask her what turned out so important in her old relationship. “It was my most serious relationship: I was there from the age of 23 until I was 30. We had talked about marriage, about having children, we were close to each other. So when the relationship ended, it was really upsetting, and it felt like I had to reset myself because the majority of my 20s was dedicated to this other person. I realized that I had invested so much in this relationship, so I felt like I had lost a bit of myself. At first, I was angry, thinking, “I’ve invested seven years of my life! But then I thought: no, rewind and reset, Toni. No one has pointed a gun at you for being in this relationship. You have voluntarily decided to be part of it. What did you learn from it? That’s when I started to sit down and write about how I was feeling.

As the oldest of three, Tone realized that she could be the big sister that she herself had never enjoyed. So she started tweeting her thoughts on relationships and love in order to streamline her thoughts. “I was using Twitter as a kind of online journal, sharing my stream of consciousness with other people because I wanted to know, am I alone? Suddenly a lot of people, women in particular, started to respond and say, “this is so relevant”. Women in their twenties, women in their sixties; women posting things like, “I just went through a divorce and lost all sense of myself.” And I was like, ‘OK, it’s not just an online journal anymore. I need to talk about this properly because it’s obviously a common thing for women to center men and give 110% to their relationships, but do so at the expense of themselves. Before I knew it, my tweets were ending up in so many random places: Oprah magazine resharged one of my tweets on Instagram, then Hayley Bieber and Khloe Kardashian shared my tweets, and I was like, “Woah , it’s crazy “. Because I already had so much content in my journal, when HarperCollins reached out to me and said, “Have you ever thought about writing a book? I said, “I literally already have a book in the works!” “”

Given Tone’s know-how when it comes to communicating with her audiences, it’s no surprise to learn that she holds a communications and media degree from Brunel University. Born in Nigeria and of half Nigerian, half English and half Norwegian descent, she arrived in the UK at the age of five with her parents when her mother won a scholarship to study for a third degree. cycle at the University of Oxford Brookes. The family moved to Oxford and Tone grew up there, only moving to London last year after giving up his job as head of student communications at the University of Oxford. Along with her growing reputation as a go-to guru for relationship counseling, she has also carved out a niche as a personal finance expert. After launching a paid budgeting model on her website, she was invited to host a podcast for BBC Radio 1Xtra, “Money Moves with Toni Tone”. She is also an ambassador for the Young Women’s Trust, a feminist organization that works for economic justice for young women.

It’s fair to say that Tone’s primary target audience for I wish I had known sooner is young heterosexual women in their late teens and twenties. However, even from the supposedly lived perspective of my 50s, I found Tone’s ideas often give me pause for thought, suggesting that the book might have a wider appeal. Structured into three parts: The Dating Stage, The Loving Stage and The Healing Stage, the book consists of short and succinct chapters of two or three pages, led by a small tweet-like observation. For example: “You will always appear in need to someone who does not give you enough”; “Uncomfortable conversations are often necessary for comfortable relationships”, and “Lacking someone who was not good for you doesn’t make you weak”.

Tone’s approach could be described as crisp but sweet, with a style of writing that is eminently accessible and inclusive, delivering exactly the kind of big sister feeling she originally aspired to. “I have a hard time writing long chapters because I’m naturally a social media person. So I thought, OK, I’ll write 500-word chapters, and I’ll have lots of short, succinct lessons ”. She tells me she was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Dear Ijeawele: A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions. “I love this book because it is full of concise and straightforward lessons, yet so valuable at the same time. When I read it, I had already started writing my book and took it as a sign of what to do. I love how relevant words can be when presented succinctly, and I think the reason I’ve been able to garner so many followers is that a lot of people have a hard time expressing what they feel.

In addition to providing brotherly advice, Tone also hopes her book will inspire writers who “feel like they could never be writers.” She praises the team at HarperCollins and the Fourth Estate, including Adimora and Tone editor-in-chief Michelle Kane, for encouraging her as a writer and helping her overcome her “syndrome. of the impostor ”. “One thing I’m really proud and happy about is that historically I had never really considered myself a writer or literary talent. In college and school I was good at English, but on average I was not an A * student. And I’m still not a bookworm. I kept thinking, ‘Why would anyone want a book from me?’ But when I wrote my first draft Michelle gave me such positive feedback, it really helped build my confidence. My editors have been good at pointing out that there is a way for me, that I should stick to it without apologizing, and that I should write about what is meaningful to me.

Book extract
A question I get asked often is what advice would I give to my younger self? In truth, I would tell my young self to keep going, because everything I have done has led me to this moment. This led me to write this book for you. But let’s assume for a moment that I would still have written this book regardless of the choices I made when I was younger. In this case, I would certainly give myself advice on love; this book is a manifestation of that. Why love? Love binds us all together. Despite what some people might say, I believe we all want it, we all want it, and we all love what love can make us feel. I love to talk about love and read about love so it only makes sense for me to write about that too.


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