Finding relief through writing

Finding relief through writing

Katie McKenna said in 2007 she was stopped at a red light on her bicycle in Brooklyn ready to turn left. 

After she signaled to the cars behind her, the light changed and she began to turn, she said.

Then an 18-wheeler knocked her off her bike, ran over her and put her in the hospital for two months, she said.

“I broke all of my ribs, had a punctured lung, had lacerations all over my body and fractured my pelvis in five places,” said McKenna, who is originally from Manhasset and currently lives in Brooklyn.

Lying in a hospital bed, experiencing post traumatic stress disorder-related flashbacks about 30 to 40 times a day, McKenna said, she began to write about her experience in hopes of eliminating the flashbacks.

“For me, writing was so helpful because it gave a voice to a lot of feeling that I had,” McKenna said. “I had a lot of feelings at that time. I felt so much better after I had written about it. I found levity and humor in the terrible moment.”

McKenna said she compiled her writing, organized it and turned it into a book.

On Oct. 13, McKenna is holding a book signing at the Dolphin Bookshop & Café in Port Washington for her book, “How to Get Run Over by a Truck,” which she described as “a memoir about the experience that’s surprisingly hilarious.”

“I’ve always loved the Dolphin and think it’s such a cool bookstore,” she said. “I’m so excited the event is at the Dolphin. My parents, who recently moved to Manchester, Va., are coming back and so many of my old high school friends are coming, too.”

McKenna said she sent out her book’s manuscript to 75 literary agents and received 75 rejections.

“I was very sad about it, but believed it would be a book that could be helpful to others,” she said.

McKenna posted to, a crowd-funding site for books.

If a writer sells 750 books in a pre-sale, Inkshares takes on the project and edits, designs and markets the book.

McKenna said the book sold 750 copies in three days, the first time an undiscovered author had ever sold that many copies in such a short time.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “I was just so happy that so many people were interested in my book.”

When she was young, McKenna said, she would write in journals everyday and that made her familiar with writing about her own experiences.

“I wrote in a journal every day — even when it stopped being cool,” McKenna said. 

When McKenna was told she would never walk again, she didn’t believe it, she said. A few months ago, she completed a half marathon on an elliptical machine, because she can’t run anymore.

“I’m in pain all the time, because of a plate in my back,” McKenna said. “But I’m fully mobile and that’s great. The pain is a bummer, but everything is better than I thought it would be.”

McKenna said she could see herself writing another book, but her end goal is to become a motivational speaker. 

“I want to inspire people with my story,” she said. “I got knocked down with an accident. I got knocked down with 75 rejections. I got told my story wasn’t a good story and that no one would be interested. I got told I would never walk again. Things worked out, and people should know that.”

McKenna said she now looks back at her accident as a lesson that taught her to not take life for granted.

“I was living in a world of yes and rarely heard no,” she said. “I took things for granted and didn’t appreciate beautiful things. I didn’t even recognize them.” 

“The accident gave me an opportunity to look deeply at myself and life and be grateful,” she said.

By Stephen Romano

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