Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Turning This Thing Around - Keith Maginn - Author Guest Post

Today I am pleased to welcome author Keith Maginn to my blog with an article about how he came to write his memoir, Turning This Thing Around.

Guest author post by Keith Maginn

"I'm not what I ought to be, I'm not what I'm going to be, but thank God I'm not what I used to be."

This famous quote sums up where I am these days. I am still a work in progress, but I am light years beyond where I was just a few years ago. There were times back then when I wondered if life was worth living. I do not feel that way whatsoever anymore.

About five years ago, I found myself sitting outside of a psych ward in Atlanta, Georgia. My fiancée was struggling terribly with bipolar depression. I had done everything I could, but was powerless to help her. I was also fighting my own battle with chronic pain and anxiety. I had no idea what I could do to turn things around. No matter how hard I fought, how much I prayed, things seemed to get worse and worse.

I soon found myself slipping into a deep depression, though I remained outwardly happy. Few of my family, friends or co-workers had any idea how desperate my predicament had become. My fiancée was adamant that no one know what she was going through, but I knew I couldn’t keep everything bottled up inside. I was perilously close to a complete nervous breakdown. Not wanting to betray her trust and talk to anyone, I started writing. It was my therapy, the only way to get some of the anger, sadness and confusion out of me.

I have been writing most of my life, as far back as I can remember. But it was never focused writing, just here and there. Now the words (and emotions) poured out of me. The story seemed to write itself. I realized that others might benefit from what I was writing. I felt people could relate to at least some of what I went through: heartbreak, depression, chronic pain, frustration…

Despite more hardships and heartbreak initially, my life gradually started to improve. I felt I was doing what I was meant to be doing, fulfilling my purpose. My mental and physical health improved and I had a new direction in life, a new focus. Things were looking up, finally.

When I started writing what eventually became Turning This Thing Around, I had no plans of ever publishing it. I wrote for myself, for my own sanity. But what started as a very personal diary evolved into something that I wanted to share with others. If I could overcome what I had, then others could, too. I decided to take a chance and self-published my writing as a “self-help memoir” (changing my fiancée's name to protect her privacy).

I had no idea how people would react to my book. Would they think I was feeling sorry for myself and looking for pity? I had my doubts, but I am very glad I decided to go ahead with the project. The response was wonderful. I have gotten many replies from people that relate and share their own stories with me. I am happy that people can learn from what I went through and that we can connect on an emotional level. I now know that people are often going through more than they show, making empathy, kindness and understanding all the more important.

As Eckhart Tolle said in The Power of Now, my challenges helped me grow as a person and gave me more "depth, humility and compassion." I knew it was time to be around my family and closest friends after ten years of living four hours away. Once I swallowed my pride and reached out to them, their support was overwhelming.

I moved home two years ago and threw myself into writing. In January, I self-published my second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward, about a philanthropic road-trip that I went on with a friend around the southeastern United States. After working at a library for the past year and a half, I took a leap of faith last month, leaving my job to pursue writing full-time. I don't know what will happen, but I will in no way regret not giving my dream everything that I've got. Though I may never understand why I have gone through what I have, I remind myself often that I am right where I am supposed to be and that everything happens for a reason.

As an unknown, independent author, I am grateful to people like Lindsay for giving me a platform to help spread my message. I also appreciate people like you for reading my story. I would love to connect with you on Twitter (@Keith_Maginn) or at my website Thank you and all the best!


  1. Such a wonderfully moving post Keith. I wish you well in the telling of your story.

    1. Thank you for reading the post and for the kind words! All the best, Tracy.


    2. Thanks for taking the time to read and for commenting Tracy.

  2. I'm fascinated by those who are so committed to writing that they quit work to do it full time. Wishing you all the best, Keith! I love a good memoir, I'll definitely check yours out!

    1. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting Karen.

    2. Thank you, Karen. I appreciate the kind words. Thanks for checking out my memoir. All the best,



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