Every book on the shelf starts with an idea, and this week, Riding the Storms took its place amongst them. Emily Davey, who captained the ship, found time to come ashore and tell us the tale.
The story begins with the 2010 publication of “Beyond the Storms.” This anthology of lived experience extended hope to so many readers, and opened the door for new perspectives – including Emily’s.
Her work with the Devon Recovery Learning Community and at Langdon Hospital showed her scope for a further book, centred on times when “getting better” feels most remote – and precisely when recovery principles are most needed.
“I kept hearing people talking about finding stories of making a complete recovery hard to relate to when they were in the midst of despair. People could often relate to authors talking about their struggles, but found healing stories harder to access.”
Emily started to wonder whether a book that focussed on struggle would be helpful. However, people she worked with kept entrusting such stories to her. Recovery Devon’s Judith Belam also saw the need for a book with a different way of viewing recovery; one that focussed entirely on the “living with,” rather than “getting beyond.”
“Judith and I talked about this maybe being a bit of a hard sell, but felt that Recovery Devon would be open to it, so we presented a proposal to them. They agreed that it would be ground-breaking, and helpful, to honour the experiences of people living with mental distress in this way.”
“We were given the go-ahead to reach out to people and create this collection.” Over the next two years, stories and artwork were curated with the utmost care and respect. Emily was humbled by the generosity and openness of artists who shared her vision and gave of their work freely. “I’ve met so many amazing people and heard so many stories while collecting. It’s been such a privilege.” Then came the nervous wait for funds to be raised via a crowdfunding campaign. Happily, it was well supported. Dozens of organisations and individuals came forward to help make it happen, proving once again that Emily’s idea was not, in fact, a hard sell at all. By the end of October, more than enough had been raised to get the book to print.
Yesterday, after weeks of proofreading and checking the final copy together, Judith and Emily were invited to BrightSea Print Group for the first print run. Seeing, and holding, those very first pages was a moment to remember.
It’s clear that Emily carries the trust of all those who have shared their work with the project.
“I’m so privileged and honoured – and terrified of getting it wrong!” But contributors have been full of praise for her care and determination.
What kept Emily so determined? Her words on this are a recovery story of their own. “I hope that people who read it feel heard, feel less alone, find connection, and some hope. I hope people find empathy with others’ suffering and in that, maybe find more empathy for themselves and those around them.” Thank you to Emily, Judith, and all the contributors and funders who steered “Riding the Storms” safely to harbour.
The finished edition will soon be available digitally. Distribution of the printed book follows; to get your copy, contact the team via their website.