love lay down beside me and we wept

By Helen Murray Taylor

A rare and lyrical memoir about the author's time in a psychiatric ward and her road to recovery

Thursday, 1 December 2022

A catalyst for conversations

A couple of weeks ago, a lovely friend of mine invited some of her friends round to her place for an evening of cheese and wine, and book talk from me. I love doing in-person events although I was weirdly nervous to begin with. Talking to a small group of people who you don't know can sometimes be harder than talking to a roomful. But once I got going, it was a fantastic experience. I did a couple of readings, talked about my writing and my mental health, and explained how the memoir came about. 

Now, obviously, I do these events with the hope that people will be interested enough to pledge for love lay down beside me and we wept, but I know from crowdfunding The Backstreets of Purgatory that reading events bring more benefits to me than the possibility of new supporters. There is something very special about seeing and hearing an audience react to your work with gasps, with laughs, with empathy. For the memoir, this is especially true and it reinforces my belief that (or quashes any doubts whether) I've done the right thing by trying to get this book published. I experienced this to some extent after the event I did at the WayWord festival, but what I didn't get there (because it was such a big audience) was the profound and intense discussion that followed my readings at my friend's place. 

I've asked myself many times during the process of writing and crowdfunding the memoir, why am I doing this? Why reveal such deeply personal events in my life? Is my story worth telling? I do have answers to those questions: that I want to add to the conversation about mental health and suicide awareness; that maybe, just maybe, my words might help someone who has been through a similar experience; that I want something worthwhile to come out of an experience that was so utterly desperate. But the book talk at my friend's house added another point to this list. Because that night it seemed that me reading from the book and talking about my experiences of being unwell acted as a catalyst for the other people there to open up about the different ways mental ill health has impacted on their own lives and those of their loved ones. And that, I reckon, can only be a good thing.

Helen xx

PS In other news, I'll be putting a new extract up sometime next week. Please please feel free to share as widely as possible. I'm hoping it will bring in new supporters and we can get this book funded and on its way.

PPS I do love a landmark. Today we reached 66% so we are two thirds of the way there. Yay! 

PPPS Of course, I forgot to take photos of the event, so instead, just for the sake of it and with no apparent link to today's update, here is a picture of a seagull on a post.

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