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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author Emma Morgan describes her new book, The Breakdown That Made Me.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author and mental health advocate Emma Morgan about her book, The Breakdown That Made Me, written under her pen name, Morag Morgan.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I am Emma, a mother who lives in Cornwall. I am originally from the Midlands. I was lucky enough to go to University in Sheffield finishing my degree in 1990 (yes, I am old but inspired!) with English And Communications.
After I worked a few jobs and did a lot of travelling, ending up in Bristol with my best friend from home. There I became disillusioned with marketing, and so became a recycling collector driving trucks round Bristol, with to a view to save the world. I have always been a rebel, I suppose.
I then ended up moving to Cornwall in 2000. I had spent a lot of time in there particularly Polzeath in my youth and I have always been drawn to the coast.
After a few jobs focused on the environment, I now work as a Health Advisor for Cornwall County Council. I love surfing and the sea and have to keep up with my super fit son. My partner lives in Exeter with two teenage stepdaughters.
On paper my life may look perfect but in 2015, for various reasons, I had a nervous breakdown. I am sure hormones had their place in it, but there were many other factors that I describe in my book.
After miraculously surviving, I decided to write about what I had learned and the how the outer world had responded to me. It really gave me utter respect for those who suffer with anxiety and depression all throughout their lives; what warriors they are!
I hope that the book will give those in the same boat, opportunities to improve or recover fully from their suffering, as well as a sense of knowing, that we understand what they are feeling and like I express in my poem(many of which I include in the book) The Battles Outside My Head;’ It is just temporary.’
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I have always written poetry but never had the confidence to think that I could be an ‘author.’ Ironically after having a breakdown, I realized I would need to tell my story. It became a part time pipe dream, but in 2020 I finished it and in 2021I met my editor Beth who gave me confidence to publish it after she read it.
Being well read herself on this subject, and said it was fantastic and must be heard in the self-help genre. So, this is my first book but not my last I don’t think.
When did you take a step to start writing?
So my first written words of this book, was some angry scrawl of frustration after a few glasses of wine in 2016, and there it lay in a note book, which that grew and grew till l started one day in 2018 I decided to starting typing.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write The Breakdown That Made Me?
I had already written poetry but the urge to write this story of survival was burning inside. There was so much misinformation out there about mental health; I needed to tell their story; the sufferers and the misunderstood.
I also felt judged and patronized by some like I was now in a category in society, and I needed to regain my power by telling my truth, which I felt had been misrepresented.
It was both nerve racking but a total relief that my words were out there and my version of events had been shared; after all I was the one experiencing it whilst everyone else was judging it; and the book is really about that too..’never judge a man till you have walked in his shoes.’
What were your biggest challenges with writing The Breakdown That Made Me?
I think the biggest challenge in writing a book is having faith that people will want to read it so you go through phases of ‘yes I must do this,’ to ‘what is the point,’ but as I talked to people and told them about it seemed to hit a nerve or interest that inspired me to keep writing.
In the end I had to think if it helps one person change their life then I will be happy.
What was your research process for The Breakdown That Made Me?
I have always researched alternative health probably because of my health anxiety. My foraging mentor Raymond has also put so many books my way. The spiritual side has also been a long term passion so it was just compiling it all and adding more as I went along.
How did you plan the structure of The Breakdown That Made Me?
My original scrawl of anger became chapter 3, but my intro and how it all happened were mixed up for so long.
I kept adding chapters too, I guess my structure was not succinct; more chaotic LOL!..but it all came together at the end.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did The Breakdown That Made Me need?
My editor came into my life at the right time out of the blue..so we would both work on chapters together weekly but it went on and on. There are always mistakes. I would say it took a good three months of a few hours a week and still there would be mistakes!
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
Firstly don’t give up.
Put some time aside every week.
Do not worry if the first publisher turns you down. And self-publish if you want; it’s free but you have to invest and know how to market your book and this still is a learning process for me.
Your book may be great but there are so many books out there you need to show it off.
It is a labour of love..but most importantly enjoy the process of writing.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Possibly a foraging book and a short story in ‘George Orwell’ style about what we have just been through as a society with the Covid 19.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I have had such a positive response and I am massively pleased and proud of myself. My journey through breakdown has led me to self love so I can be proud of what I have done.
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