Readersforum's Blog

March 29, 2013

Julie Myerson: a life in writing

The-Quickening‘I don’t like to call it a breakdown, but I went to pieces and have only just got my confidence back’.

By Susanna Rustin

Exactly four years ago, novelist Julie Myerson found herself at the centre of a media storm. Over the course of a few weeks her family and career became the subject of intense scrutiny as it emerged, via a series of newspaper articles, that she was not only on the verge of publishing a memoir about what she described as her eldest son’s addiction to cannabis, but was also the author of the anonymous Living with Teenagers column that had just stopped running in the Guardian’s Family section because one of her kids guessed it was about them.

Over tea in a London hotel, Myerson says she is still getting over what happened next. “I don’t know if you would call it a breakdown, I don’t like to call it a breakdown, but I went to pieces after it and have only recently got my confidence back. I lost my ability to do lots of things that I needed to be able to do, like drive and so on. It really knocked me. We’d had the most difficult two or three years you could imagine, there was a lot of stuff I haven’t written about. And so all of us, including me, were very vulnerable and when you’re in the middle of something you don’t always see that.”

Myerson, who had been a regular on the BBC’s Newsnight Review, stopped doing live television. “I couldn’t even do radio,” she says. She still hasn’t driven a car – the family got rid of theirs to be green anyway – and for the past two years has used meditation techniques learned on a course recommended by her GP as a way to control her anxiety.

In professional terms she got quickly back on track, publishing a novel, Then, two years after The Lost Child, and from a glance at her backlist you would never guess there had been a crisis.

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