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News > Life After Yarm > Former Pupil Becomes A Published Author With Powerful, Personal Story

Former Pupil Becomes A Published Author With Powerful, Personal Story

Former pupil and author, Megan Ravenhall, visited Yarm School to speak to pupils about her newly published book: My friend, Jane.

Megan, who joined the Senior School in First Year, left Yarm Sixth Form to read English Literature at the University of St Andrews between 2014 – 2018 and further obtained her MLitt (Master of Letters degree) in Creative Writing in 2020.

Despite always loving words, she never thought she would have become an author. Instead, she had always planned to study medicine. It wasn’t until a careers talk on applying to Oxbridge that she realised medicine wasn’t something she was passionate about; the only thing she had a real interest in was English.

Megan returned to Yarm as a guest speaker to discuss her time at St Andrews and share her journey to becoming a published author with a keen group of student writers, as well as members of the English Department.

My friend, Jane

‘My friend, Jane: Life after anorexia is not recovery, it is simply just life’, stemmed from Megan’s aspiration to write her powerful and personal story. As part of her Masters, she had to submit a 15,000 word dissertation and she put pen to paper to create the beginnings of her book.

Megan said: “I realised that I had more to say and so I kept going. The pandemic also meant that I finally had the time to do it – as the world paused to breathe and think and rest, so did I. 60,000 words later the book was, I thought, finished and I put the whole idea to bed. This was a deeply personal story which I had never really intended to share beyond my own eyes.”

Megan returned to St Andrews after restrictions first lifted towards the end of summer 2020 and found herself working as a baker and barista at a local cafe. Despite having two degrees from a leading university, Megan struggled to find a job that utilised the creative skills she had honed at university. Instead, she maintained her part-time job at the cafe whilst continuing to work on her craft by exploring and writing experimental pieces.

Megan was introduced to the educational publisher ‘Small World, Big Imagination’ in January, 2021, who, after reading the book, were eager to publish the first draft. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, Megan arranged a two month edit period to allow her to redraft it and get it to a place she was happy with. This also gave her time to find the perfect front cover which was illustrated by a close friend of hers.

My friend, Jane, ‘a story about a rather troubled girl who wasn’t quite sure how to grow up; mental illness, family, love, pain, adventure, university, sadness, hope, friends, relationships’ is now available to pre-order, with the intention to release it by July 2021.

When asked what she found most challenging and if she has any words of wisdom for budding writers, Megan said: “Perhaps just sitting and starting it. I knew I had to do it, for me, Megan, and for the protagonist, Jane.”

“If you want to write, write. The only person limiting you is yourself. Talk about it with like-minded people. Share your words with them and get them to share their words with you. Take their constructive criticism (accept it, or don’t!) but whatever you decide to do, build on it. Use it and run with it. If you have an idea, write it down; on the back of your hand, in the notes section of your phone, wherever and with whatever means you can.

Sometimes the most simple sentences are the most powerful, often verbosity gets you nowhere. No one will ever see an image the way you see it in your mind so you have to learn to trust your audience, let their imaginations do most of the work, just give them a nudge in the right direction.”

Thank you to Megan for taking the time to visit Yarm and share her journey to becoming an author so far, and best of luck in the future!

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