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Image by Maria Portway

Hello

Having worked as an editor and book coach for ten years, alongside working on books as an author, I really know what it takes to write a manuscript. I understand the difficulties many writers face and the fact that, more often than not, those difficulties have nothing to do with a lack of talent or know-how, but rather they are to do with the internal battles we each have with ourselves surrounding the novel-writing process.

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My Story

I started writing the book of my heart when I was eighteen. Then I moved away from my home city of Liverpool, UK to study English and Drama at Goldsmiths, University of London. I hoped that by doing a degree that let me soak-up the inspiration of great literary works, it would help me to write my own book. Then life happened. Then life happened some more. I found myself a graduate at twenty-one living in Antigua (the Caribbean island where I was born) working as a ghost-writer, editor and writing mentor for other people's soul books whilst barely writing any pages of the book of my own. 

Whilst living back in Antigua I wrote an experimental biography of Caribbean billboard chart-topping artist J. Nation, which was published by his record label, and then I got picked up as a Performing Arts editor for a major international magazine group. I worked sixteen hour days writing articles, interviewing acclaimed artists from across the globe, reviewing the world's most interesting new works for stage and screen. I got to call myself a writer in a way that I understood others would see as legitimate because it was paying the bills and putting my name in print; but inside I felt like somebody had turned off the air. There was no time at all now for working on my own book. No expectation from the people around me that it was something I would ever return to. Nobody but me really rooting for it, willing it into existence. And I did will it, every day. But of course willing it to be a tangible, finished thing, didn't mean the book continued writing itself. It just stayed there. A sorry, half-formed thing.

Slowly I became a sorry half-formed thing too.

Before long, my body broke. 

I caught a tropical infection on my honeymoon (not in Antigua!), moved back to the UK and spent three years largely bed-bound by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E. along with other co-morbid chronic conditions. My condition was triggered by an infection, but undoubtedly caused by many contributing factors; a big one being the denial of the creative calling I felt to finish my book. I hadn't given myself the space for the work it would take to really be with my manuscript and develop it, I had also been refusing to go to the places it would take me inside myself to finish it. This was the work I knew was mine to take up and yet, somehow, I had been pushing it away for years.

Seven years on from when I first got sick, I have healed in so many ways. My body walks. Long, ambling, invigorating walks around Edinburgh, Scotland, where I now live with my husband, my partner in life, Ben. I can hold a pen again. Sit at a desk. Hold thoughts in my head without a heavy brain-fog descending over me. And I've finished writing that book. From start to finish, draft after draft, edits complete, its out in the world getting lots of love and happy feedback from literary agents (which gives me a grin and a sense of deep satisfaction every time one such email comes in!). 

I didn't go from where I was to where I am now overnight. It took years of daily dedication to recovering myself in every way I needed to. Gruelling physical and neurological rehabilitation with a team of occupational therapists and medical consultants, trauma recovery, intentional living, a dedicated meditation practice, deep exploration and excavation of my self, and a personal decision to say 'yes' to the calling to finish writing my book. And now I'm here. Happily working on a second manuscript.

 

I want to help you write the book calling to you too. 

I use a Schema Mode Therapy-informed approach in my book coaching because this modality helped in my own creative and trauma recovery. I combine my knowledge and training in this area with my belief in creative living, and the many insights I have gained through my lived experiences over the years. I of course also bring my expertise as a writer and editor with me too, though I don't believe editorial feedback is always helpful in the early stages of a manuscript, so this may not form part of our work together directly. I will use my skills to help you get in touch with the parts of yourself you need to, to help you make progress in writing your book. I want you to get there in a way that feels happy, healthy and deeply fulfilling for you.

Portia x

Creative Director and Owner of the Centre for Novels in Progress
 

(Recent continued professional development accreditations can be found below).

Recent continued professional development:

Recent published/produced works:

- The Good Life, personal essays column for Cohorted Cult

- Freelance travel writing articles, various online magazines

- Contributing writer for the inspiration of 'Love, Liverpool', Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Coaching continued professional development:

-Schema Therapy course with Latanya Richardson, academic and clinical counsellor 

- Webinar: Introducing the New Young Schema Questionnaire (ISST accredited CPD)

- CPD recognised reading: International Society of Schema Therapy recommended books: Schema Therapy in practice, & Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns: A Schema Therapy Support Book

- CBT Cognitive Behaviour Life Coach certification (current)

Editing/writing continued professional development:

- Advanced Writing Lives course, University of Oxford

- Pitching masterclass with literary agent Juliet Mushens

- The Book Proposal Masterclass, with author Beth Kempton

-The Hook course, The Novelry

- Planning and Plotting your Novel: The Practical Way with author Abigail Mann

-Writing your novel course, The Novelry

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