Writing With a Long-term Limiting Illness
Finishing the writing of a book is a massive achievement. It’s right up there with home ownership and giving birth in my view. There’s the initial awful draft to complete. Writing time during this phase consists of getting the maximum amount of words onto the page whilst beset with constant doubts that the concept I’ve come up with is good enough. This is even before I begin evaluating if the writing is any good at all. Now, and only now comes the beginning of the editing process. The book will go through 5 or 6 edits, sometimes even 10 if it’s being an irritable monster. My writing group, beta readers and sensational Editor, Emma, will all be giving it the once over. When I think the final edit is the one, I then have to send it off to my magnificent proof-reader, Chantal.
It doesn’t stop after the writing process. In the meanwhile I have to ensure I’m keeping up with contacts, sorting the cover, creating a fabulous look to the interior, arranging a blog tour before the release, maintaining my social media presence etc etc. Oh yes, let me not forget that I have to keep up my tutoring commitments throughout.
This relentless focus on the task along with the need to pay the bills means I have to commit myself to the job in hand. Sometimes this is not all that easy. There are periods when my writing mojo goes off to its secret mojo cave and I’m left mojo-less for several days at a time. This results in writing days full of stilted sentences, much muttering, under the breath, swearing, nails chewed to bloody stumps and repeated abuse of the delete key. Then of course there’s the restriction to my writing time dictated by my teaching schedule. Falling ill is really not an option open to me. But it’s one I face on a daily basis as I suffer from Lupus and Scleroderma. So when I'm ill it takes me at least 3 times longer to get over whatever it is than it takes anyone else.
Along with this there are several symptoms of Lupus which make life a tad more difficult. The ones which affect me the most are prolonged periods of fatigue and pains in my chest when I have to breathe deeply. I also suffer from debilitating migraines when I ignore my body's need to rest. These can knock me out for 3 days at a time. My Scleroderma symptoms are mild in comparison to the Lupus. I really feel the cold, have very cold hands and feet (they sometimes turn blue), some hardened skin on my hands and feet and red spots on my face which intensify when I’m under the weather or tired.
Too many changes in my routine, failure to eat regularly and rest when my body requires it can result in days of lost writing time. So I jealously guard my writing schedule and support my dodgy immune system by taking a daily homeopathic remedy, eating a healthy diet, exercising and resting whenever my body demands.
Of course, life will throw curve balls along the way so I don’t necessarily stick as religiously to this regime as I should. When I slip, I suffer for it and hasten to mend my ways ASAP as it affects my writing considerably if I don’t. I am first and foremost, a slave to what my writing dictates it needs from me. And that means I must ensure as perfect a work-life balance as possible. So far things seem to be going well.
Is there a long-term illness which makes your writing life harder than it needs to be? Tell me about it.