My second guest author is the champion eventer Polly Williamson. I heard about Polly from friends in Gloucestershire who knew about her accident and subsequent book 'Where Did I Go?' which was published in December 2017.
The more I found out, the more I wanted to meet her and I knew she would be a marvellous ambassador for the Jemima Layzell Trust.
In 2011 you suffered a freak accident when the young horse you were training fell and then kicked you in the head. The brain injury was incredibly traumatic, what was it that inspired you to write about it?
Following my brain injury I had a complete lack of confidence. Primarily due to thinking that I must be viewed as ‘slow’. By sheer chance a good friend said to me one day “you should write a book”. We must have been commenting on my accident, I can’t remember, but it was far from a deep conversation because Alison was sitting on a pony at the time! But as soon as I arrived home I switched on the computer and began tapping away. I wanted to write for two reasons. One: I wished to do something completely on my own. After my accident I lost my independence and although that independence was returning, writing was something I could do completely on my own. No one needed to know. Secondly I wanted to prove to myself that my brain did still work. I questioned whether my brain was good enough to write in a clear and coherent way. So I wrote in order to prove to myself that my slightly altered brain did still work.
You have a young family to look as well as a challenging recovery programme, how did you find the time and energy to write?
Well both children were at primary school so I was free for much of the day around the school run and the house to keep organised. Also I was very much building up my equestrian training at the time so the writing did have to fit round a few commitments! But if you want to do something enough you will find the time.
What feedback have you had? I imagine the impact the book has had on others who have suffered traumatic brain injury has been profound.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have good feedback, both from the head injured world as well as many people who have read the book out of interest. Perhaps the best amazon review for me was one that read: “I had a brain injury and this book has helped my recovery so much.” Those words meant a lot to me.
What creative plans do you have in the pipeline? I heard a new book novel might be on the horizon.
I have started a second book. This one a novel. I started it during the first lockdown which went on for many weeks. However it has been put aside at the moment although the story and how it might run does keep flickering to mind but at present I am too full on with kids and teaching. However I have just said “if you want to do something you will find the time!” Undoubtedly it is my plan to finish it. I got to know the two leading characters very well and want to see how their story will pan out. The equestrian teaching is quieter Nov-Feb so I’m looking to pick it up again. But the one thing I do know is for me to write I need peace around me and not the constant distraction of all the things I need to do. Eg. Grocery shopping, dog to walk, my son’s pony to look after, and now Christmas presents to buy! I need to clear my head and fall back into the story. When I can do that I can write.
Polly’s inspiring book ‘Where Did I Go?’ is available on Amazon.