Amanda Green, writer, survivor, campaigner…
Visiting author, Amanda Green, writer, survivor , campaigner on several fronts, shares with us the amazing background to her first book, ‘My Alien Self-My Journey Back To Me’ and a brief description of the sequel, ’39’. in which she has written about the goals that she set for herself, to achieve before reaching forty. Amanda also gives us her tips for writing memoires, for publishing and her personal writing tips. Many thanks to Amanda for generously taking the time and sending us this material for inclusion in our series, ‘Visitors’ on the blog: writersend.com
I am Amanda Green, author of ‘My Alien Self – My Journey Back To Me’ and the sequel ’39’.
‘My Alien Self – My Journey Back To Me’ is my memoir which follows my journey through travel, excitement, normality and mental illness to find myself again. ’39’ is about what happened afterwards; the year before reaching the prime age of forty, family relationships, love and memories. I want to inspire others that it is possible to recover and have a life worth living.
If I told you I’d been to twenty-four Countries (twenty-one by the time I was twenty-two), that I’d worked in Japan for nine months, toured Australia for six months, enjoyed seven months in Thailand and met and campaigned for the Orangutan in Borneo, you might think that I was pretty lucky.
If I told you I’d worked in the hotel industry, for a sexual health department in a hospital and with prisoners in a drug cell block of a male prison, that I’d worked as a recruitment consultant, in so many office jobs I’ve lost count, as well as having my own company and multiple websites, at age thirty-six, then you might think I’ve had an interesting life. But if I added to that a mix of child rape, mental health problems, promiscuity, drug taking, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, self-harm, violence, mood swings, obsession, jealousy, loss of self worth, being raised by a mentally ill mother, bankruptcy, thyroid and gastro problems and public masturbation in school at age nine, then I am not sure what you’d think.
But this is me; Amanda Green. This is my life, my story; my journey back to me from depression, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and Borderline Personality Disorder – mental illness which manifested during my life and came out ‘to it’s peak’ in my thirties. I was able to use my collection of mementos, photos, diaries, journals, letters, emails and text messages of my past to finally see who I had become, and more importantly with a combination of therapy, medication and my writing, how I became that alien self and how I found the real me.
The editor (Debz Hobbs-Wyatt) adds… This is the journey of a normal working class girl, trapped in a roller coaster world of disorder and excitement, love and joy, depression and anger – and her fight against stigma. While My Alien Self would be inspiring for any sufferer, their families or medical teams in its honest insights into living with a mental illness, it also has universal appeal. For who, at times, has not felt their life spin into chaos and wondered what is normal? This story effectively and openly highlights just how fine the line is between what is normal, and what is ‘mental illness’ And everyone who reads it will be able to relate to it.
Contains explicit language and sexual scenes.
I self published this book and am very proud of that fact, because I was able to write it exactly as I wanted it to be written, with the help from my fabulous editor, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt. Whilst the massive help a publisher and agent gives, they do narrow down what is published, so I took on the journey to publish it and market it myself. I had some interest from a couple of agents, who I sent my draft manuscript to, and it gave me the strength to go forth and self publish, so I published my memoir as an e-book through Amazon. I created my website www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk for articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, CBT, self harm, OCD, eating disorders, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, psychosis, Suicidal thoughts, paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues, IBS and psychology. I actively raise awareness of BPD and run my own anti-stigma campaign. There’s a sequel out too, called ’39’. It’s quite different, but it leads on from this one 🙂
‘39’ (memoirs of Amanda Green) – this is now at just 77p or 99 cents (or equivalent in other countries) until my 40th Birthday on 4th December 2013. Since it is about reaching the age of 39 and all the ups and downs that happened during a year of my life, I thought it was apt to put it on sale for a few days while I am still 39 – it also helps me to celebrate and not feel so bad about delving into the 40’s.
From 2008 to 2012, I spent all my time writing and editing my memoir and I was still recovering well after publishing it, whilst finding myself left with the bare broken bones of a life which needed to be fixed.
And since my fortieth birthday was fast approaching, I gave myself a year to turn my life around – May 2012 to May 2013. I had managed to enjoy social media, sell books and get some great reviews, so, here were my goals for the year! Not New Year resolutions, life goals…
- Get to my thirty-ninth birthday, and at thirty-nine have a life worth living, be happy, let my personality blossom, and take some responsibility…
- Complete a course at college and pass the exam as this will allow me to meet new people, learn a new skill and gain confidence. Even though everyone seems to believe I have tonnes of confidence, I absolutely do not!
- Move out of the aparthotel I have lived in for well over a year, into a real home, paying bills and taking responsibility.
- Have pets – cat or dog. Volunteering – helping animals, elderly or mentally ill. Stop taking my mental illness medications.
- Settle down, like myself and my own company, and have a life worth living.
- Accept that I am childless. My mum had me (her fourth and last child) when she was thirty-nine, and was going through her menopause at the same time, and since early menopause can be hereditary, I have lived, for years, with the idea that if I don’t have children before I am thirty-nine, my chances will be gone forever.
Sounds boring right? But life is far from boring in my world, and as we all know getting what you want is all too often not easy at all…
More about me…
Because I grew up with my mother having severe Schizophrenia, who had been incarcerated in psychiatric hospitals for years, and felt the bullying and loneliness that stigma can spread, I campaign to ‘stop the stigma surrounding mental illness. I also felt the wrath of stigma when I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality disorder. Many people do not understand mental illness, so judge people unfairly. So I created www.amandagreenauthor.co.uk where I publish articles on the topics covered in my story, including self help, depression, bankruptcy, Alcohol/drug abuse, family and relationships, sexual, physical and mental abuse, anxiety, anger, Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), self harm, Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Anorexia Nervosa/Bulimia, mindfulness, panic, rape, Schizophrenia, pychosis, Suicidal thoughts, , paranoia, dissociation, mood disorder, thyroid issues and psychology.
I will be working with mental health charities, magazines, newspapers, social networking and other PR projects, actively making people aware of this disorder through every means possible through the media. But also, I hope that my books will help other sufferers and their families and friends to understand BPD and mental health and how to help oneself to feel better. I want to raise awareness to the general public about mental illness and the stigma sufferers have to deal with. I am going to continue writing through fact and fiction storytelling, on the genre of Mental Health and love stories – facing and combating adversity as the main point. (not self help books, but based on reality).
I hope that Doctors and the medical industry involved with mental health will benefit from reading my stories, as they unfold what it is like to suffer from debilitating mental illness from the inside out and how it manifests itself.
But I have also written my memoirs in a style that I hope will be compelling and sometimes shocking reads for anyone interested in memoirs with a twist, so that I can reach more people.
I really hope to encourage more celebrities to come out about BPD, depression or other mental illnesses.
I love photography, writing and looking after my many websites, and have had my work published in magazines. I enjoy the challenge of getting published and very much enjoy doing my own PR, which is why I chose to self publish to kindle in this first instance.
Outside of work, I love eating out and reviewing restaurants, travel, days out, campaigning for the precious Orang-utan and the issues of unsustainable palm oil production, running six websites of my own and seeing my family. I also enjoy reading, theatre, films, TV and cooking and when I can calm my mind down, just relaxing!
Tips for self publishing ebooks and writing memoirs from my experiences:
Make sure you keep to your genre – it is not an autobiography, it is about a theme. Mine was mental illness, so I concentrated on telling the story of why I had mental illness, showing I had mental illness, or showing my recovery, and I had to lose a lot of the stuff I wanted in there, such as fabulous holidays, events etc that did not move the story on or fit with the theme of the story. My editor (Debz Hobbs-Wyatt) taught me this and it took me a long time to be able to edit things out as easily as she could!
I guess if you keeping thinking that a memoir is about ‘memories’ of a certain type (your theme) then it will get you going!
When I was suffering mental illness and felt alone, I read other people’s memoirs and they helped me a lot. I knew I had a story to share that would show just how mental illness forms, what makes it worse, and all I had to do was get better to have the ending! It took many years, but I managed it and I knew that mental illness was my theme, so I took out any irrelevant events and descriptions from my life, diaries etc. My second memoir is about life after mental illness and nearly reaching the age of forty a childless woman – it focuses much more on the positives in life with a more ‘uplifting’ tone.
Although writing a memoir does need to have a story line, flow and peaks/troughs, it does not require the same story arc a novel does. Also the protagonist in a memoir just does what they do rather than a fictional character that needs to tick certain boxes. It is harder to write a memoir because it is so close to you, the author, but then it’s easier in many other ways, because the story is already there.
I self published both of my memoirs and am very proud of that fact, because I was able to write them exactly as I wanted them to be written, with the help from my fabulous editor, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt. Whilst a publisher and agent do offer a lot of help and contacts, they do narrow down what is published, so I took on the journey to publish and market both books myself.
Tips for self publishing
Never publish it until you are 100% sure you have done the best you can with it – editing, proof reading etc.
Take time to ensure that the file conversion for an e-book, of any kind, is perfect. You do not want sentences, words or even paragraphs misaligned with the rest of the content, or bullet points starting halfway across the page!
If it is too daunting to do it yourself (as it was for me) then there are many pro’s out there, so seek their assistance and get it right first time.
For ten more of my writing tips CLICK HERE http://amandagreenauthor.co.uk/my-top-ten-writing-tips-based-on-my-own-experience-and-learning-from-many-other-authors/ (Opens in a new window)
My top 10 writing tips
1. Just write and keep writing, only edit once you have finished or you will lose your natural rhythm and focus
2. Write when you are in all sorts of moods – it amazes me how my writing changes when I am in different moods – happy, sad, angry…
3. Unplanned writing – Write instead of doing something else that is planned. My writing is often at it’s best as I am not expecting to write and have no set goal as to what I want to write or how much I want to write. Sometimes setting goals around writing can put too much pressure on me and if I don’t set a goal, I write and write and write…
4. Warm up writing. I love to write a journal each day and this is often my warm up to writing some really good narrative – all the babble comes out so I can focus on my words.
5. If planning to publish a piece of writing or a book, get an editor or at least a proofreader! This is essential as no matter how much we read our own stories, we will always miss things and no-one wants to read repetition or misspellings!
6. Read other people’s books! You will learn so much from them – what you like, don’t like, what grips you etc
7. If you are a beginner to writing or just want to better your writing, then writing courses can be very helpful
8. Writing magazines can provide lots of tips!
9. If you do publish, make sure your piece of writing or book is the best it can be – do not rush to publish it, as once it is done it is often too late to go back.
10. And a final tip is to be quiet and to think of nothing for a few minutes each day. It might seem hard to find those few minutes to do this, but it is worth it. Often, thinking of nothing will result in many ideas coming to you once your mind is clear – many of my best ideas have come to me from doing this mind de-clutter!
Also: Take part in author interviews…
Finally, get a professional book cover designed – first impressions really do count!