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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Lynn Forney writes about surviving an attemped murder, and why she chose to write her book, Choosing Survival: How I Endured A Brutal Attack And A Lifetime Of Trauma Through The Power Of Action, Choice, And Self Expression.
Written by Lynn Forney
In 1998, I often found myself saying, “My story is so crazy, I should just write a book.” Admittedly, that comment came *somewhat* from a place of anxiety as I told my story to someone. I would notice how their face changed as I shared more details. I could sense their discomfort grow as they struggled with what to say or how to react. I couldn’t blame them. It was a lot. It still is.
At 21, while visiting my mom between semesters at college, I awoke with a strange man in my bed. He stabbed me 7 times. I lost approximately 21 pints of blood.
If that’s not enough of a story, I’m not sure what is. But the aftermath proved to be just as compelling. And from 1998 until 2021, the thought of writing a book would pop in my head from time to time. I still found myself saying it to others as well. “I should just write a book.”
So I finally did.
Wanting To Write
Over the years, I never thought I couldn’t do it, but I was never sure I would do it. I’m a dancer, a performer. I added acting to the repertoire and became busy with auditions and bookings, while still choreographing, dancing, and preparing for performances. I had various other jobs while doing all of this, so I never felt I had the time or energy to focus on such a large undertaking. Plus, it seemed a bit counterintuitive.
Understandably, safety became a huge issue for me. Both physically and emotionally. And I came to recognize all the ways not feeling safe showed up for me. So why on earth would I put myself out there even more? I knew I would have to share deeply personal things about myself. My mental health. Things, deep down, I still felt shame around. I could be ridiculed, blamed, disgraced, or shunned. Even worse, I could be setting myself up to become a physical target once more. So again, I wondered, why?
Enter: the COVID-19 lockdown. I suddenly found myself with a lot more time on my hands. In addition, my husband and I had moved to a different city and state a few months prior. A move I wasn’t happy about at all. As I tried to navigate all of that, I found myself turning to various online outlets and workshops. And video games. Turns out, they are a lot of fun and more engaging than I had assumed. Who knew?
Finding A Community
Over the years, I had been curious about taking singing lessons, but had pushed it to the back burner. One of the workshops I took happened to be run by a singing and life coach. Her platform involved helping people find their authentic voice through singing. I was drawn to that idea, and months later, I signed up. It turned out she was starting a small group coaching container that would involve the use of an app called Voxer.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I jumped in. I was super timid at first, but over time, I stared leaving more and more messages to the group. One day, I wrote a poem, and my husband encouraged me to read it to them. I was shaking, and fearful of the feedback I may (or may not) receive. But I did it anyway. The feedback was beautiful. It encouraged me to think about what else I could write. And then I knew it. It was time. Time to start my book.
Starting To Write
When I create, I’m incredibly visual, and many times it will come with a moment of just knowing. The incessant chatter in my mind will stop, and I’ll just know. I knew instantly what the first chapter would be about. I didn’t know anything else, but this much I knew. It would be the moment I got taken off of life support. And then I thought
Wouldn’t it be interesting if I could write it from the first person, present tense?
I knew it would be challenging, but I also thought it would be different. I clearly haven’t read every book or memoir out there, but I thought this would be a unique perspective. Something creative. When I choreograph, I push myself to make different choices. To get out of my comfort zone. Why couldn’t I do that with my writing? After all, it would only be this one chapter. Or so I thought.
I read that piece to the group. The chapter entitled “I Couldn’t Breathe.” No one but the coach knew what happened to me, nor did they know I had been talking about writing about it. Again, the feedback filled me with encouragement. They were intrigued, and wanted to know more. I felt like maybe, just maybe, I really had something here. Something worth sharing.
I wrote the book, chapter by chapter, totally out of order. I challenged myself to write a few more chapters from the first person, present tense. Throughout the process, I was definitely stressed out that this book wouldn’t make any sense. I struggled with what the “through line” was and how it would all come together. But I chose to trust it. Trusting that all the pieces would find their way together.
And I believe they did.
About Lynn F. Forney
Lynn F Forney is a dancer, choreographer, actor, director, and writer. Earlier this year she published her memoir “Choosing Survival: How I Endured a Brutal Attack and a Lifetime of Trauma through the Power of Action, Choice, and Self Expression”. She currently lives in Austin, TX with her husband and two rescue dogs and loves scuba diving, hugs, and honey mustard.
Instagram: @ choosingsurvival
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