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Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Dr Morgana McCabe Allan about her life, her career, and what inspired her to write her new book, Unbecoming: The Unorthodox Guide To Radical Wholeness.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a different way of thinking about the world. A deadly nut allergy meant I missed a lot of school when I was growing up and every time I went back to the classroom after being ill, I felt like I was entering a parallel universe. This meant I had to really focus on just being myself, no matter what was going on around me. This inspired me to look deeply into what reality really is, a topic which formed my interdisciplinary PhD from Glasgow University. My study explored how women’s identities and realities are shaped by thoughts, beliefs, behaviours, emotions and interactions with things, people, places and ideas.
When I became pregnant with my third child, I felt called to do something different so I left the world of academia to start my own business. Now I work with frustrated entrepreneurs to help them fall back in love with their businesses, achieve their goals and attract the right kind of clients.
I help people understand the relationship between themselves, the work they do and the world around them so they can achieve their true potential, make an impact and live in integrity.
My book, Unbecoming: the unorthodox guide to radical wholeness is really a culmination of my life’s work and I hope it helps others realise that they can design their own reality and live a life of joy, abundance and freedom by breaking free of the old patterns which have been holding them back.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I’ve always wanted to write books since childhood, and have never imagined a life where I wouldn’t write.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I’ve always written – I started with poetry published from around age eight or nine onwards, and progressed to writing academic articles and pieces for magazines when I was in my 20s and 30s. However, I didn’t seriously start to make the space and time to write a book until just before my 40th birthday.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
From coming up with the initial idea for my book to its release took four months.
What made you want to write Unbecoming?
This book has been growing inside me for a long time. It’s the intersection of my life experience, years of academic research and professional practice and it really didn’t feel like I wanted to write the book, more like the book wanted to be written.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Unbecoming?
The book flowed out so easily, it only took around two weeks to complete a full first draft. The main challenge was committing to not over-editing. There are really big ideas and personal stories in there and it took an ongoing process of challenging myself to bring my best work – it would have been emotionally easier to play safe and dull the edges of those sections. I definitely had some nerves when I sent one of the chapters telling our family’s story over to my mum. Although we’d talked about me telling it before I ever started writing, things hit differently when they’re written down.
What was your research process for Unbecoming?
I did eight years of postgraduate research as an MLitt and then PhD student, and have continued my research and practice over the past five years since submitting my thesis. The nature of my work is also very much centred around questioning the paradigm and incorporating novel ways of inviting readers into new questions and understandings. So the book is founded on my interdisciplinary research that’s unique in the world.
How did you plan the structure of Unbecoming?
Through my research and practice over many years, I’ve come to create a modality called Conscious Reality Design™, an integrative relational model that brings together 12 major themes that appear over and over again in ways that we understand being in the world, refracted in archetypes, chakras, the hero’s journey, the tarot, and in many other relational reality models.
Whilst I did not teach that system in the book (maybe in a future book), I based the structure on that system because it’s tried and tested. Some of these conversations I’ve been teaching in one form or another for well over a decade.
It made sense to make things easy for myself and use what I have that’s already working great rather than reinvent the wheel. It also made the writing process so much faster.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Unbecoming need?
I worked with a lovely team who edited, copy edited and did the formatting for me. Editing the book in the first instance took me three or four days, and my editor a few days to a week on each of her two rounds of edits. However, it’s important to be totally clear – the only reason the editing was so quick was because these are conversations I’ve had 100s of times. You could just as easily say I’ve been editing these conversations in real time for years.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Just start writing. I’ve been writing my whole life, with poetry, short stories, journal articles, magazine and newspaper articles, a 100,000 word doctoral thesis that passed without corrections, and now a book. The only way to do it is to do it – thinking about it doesn’t produce anything. Be brave and write. Even if it means sitting down and writing “I literally have nothing to write. This stupid woman shared the advice to just write but she doesn’t know me! Where do I even start with it…” do that. Write for ten minutes and you will find that after you dump the chatter out your head, better things will come through. Make it a practice, and soon great things will come through. On a good day, I can write 10,000 words, and I still often start off with this exercise. The other thing is read widely, not just in your niche. If you allow yourself to be wild and creative in your reading, it will find its way into your writing.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
My next book will be going into Conscious Reality Design more explicitly, and I’m so excited to share it with the world.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, I’m really proud of it. I can’t control how others receive it or how they respond to it, and I know that as with anything, it’s likely to be mixed. I can control how I perceive it, and I’m focusing on the positives. My work has changed many lives over the years, and I truly believe can help change people. It’s not “my life’s work”. – my life is my life’s work. But it is the best I can create in this moment, and I believe that’s all we can ask of ourselves.
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