Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mslexia Advert

STOP PRESS - My book - the original memoir - is going to be featured in the next issue of Mslexia magazine!  Only because I have paid for an advert, but still...

A couple of years ago, when I was invited up to Newcastle Uni to talk to staff and students there about Surviving Schizophrenia, the Public Engagement Officer there told me that she had called Mslexia (who are based in Newcastle) and tried to get them to cover the event and feature the book in their magazine. They told her that this would not be possible and she was quite indignant on my behalf.  

I understood though.  I told her that although Mslexia is only a small, women-only literary magazine, it is REALLY prestigious.  Top authors are featured in Mslexia, not first-time, self-published ones.  I would never have expected such an honour.  Anyhow, I was confident that my book would get the recognition it deserved as and when the time was right.  I knew I had written something that mattered.  Newcastle University was just the first step, I believed. 

Two years on from Newcastle (or is it three?) I am still waiting for the world to sit up and notice my book.  I have been really lucky in lots of ways - I have loads of wonderful reviews on Amazon.  Other authors have read my book and loved it.  Raymond Briggs praised my writing, for goodness sake!  That should be enough for ever, for anyone, and in many ways it is for me.

And yet.  I have to admit it, I still yearn for a wider readership.  There is still something in me that feels I have missed out.  And not just that, but that more people could benefit from reading this book.  There is so much injustice, still, in the mental health system and so much potential in so many people who are labelled, wrongly, with brain disorders.  I have found my way through but I am still held back by the label of schizophrenia, and I know that people are still being diagnosed with this spurious condition.  I know of several recent cases personally, and I don't go out of my way to look for them!

Perhaps I need to acknowledge that my memoir is just one more book in a sea of others - sometimes, when I read a really brilliant book, I think I must be delusional to think mine is any good, any use at all.  (Recently, I was blown away by Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees, an incredible read).  Sometimes I think, okay, move on, write something else, something better, keep working.  And I do that, although not always as regularly or in as a disciplined way as I could, maybe because inside me some sulky child is still waiting to be noticed for that memoir. 

So, I have placed an advert in Mslexia, hoping that more people will read my first book, Surviving Schizophrenia, that perhaps an agent will notice it, see the Amazon reviews, sit up and pay attention.  I might be flogging a dead horse, but the same instinct that told me to write the book tells me that it still has potential, that something good will happen in relation to it, perhaps soon.

The sequel, Surfacing, is more about recovery and mostly about how the label itself stands as a barrier to that recovery.  I still wish it was better written, as in more entertaining - I could have done with an editor there and perhaps I should have paid for one.  But mental health often seems like a serious business - the system as it stands is not doing an awful lot to help people in severe emotional distress and lives are, literally, at stake. It's hard to be funny about that. 

Ah well.  I need to go now.  I am working on an entry for the Bridport First Novel Prize.  Maybe this will be the break I have been looking for... if I can get my entry in by the end of this month.  Which is actually really soon...Right, definitely going now! 


1 comment:

  1. I wish you luck with the magazine advert. I recognise how difficult it is to publicise a book when the author is not already a big name. However, based on all those glowing Amazon reviews it is clear that your words have already made a big impression on many. Your message is an important one so I genuinely hope it will be read by many, many more.