Monday 2 March 2020

Spoonie Writer: Coping With Reliance


There are two things that brought this piece to mind. One is the part of spoonie life when you're realising that you need to rely a lot on assistive technology. Whether that's a wheelchair, or walker, or using text to speech software so that you can keep writing. The other reason is the feeling of being unreliable when you're a spoonie, not just for personal things, but for the parts of being an author where you need to be doing something at some time, and your body just doesn't get with the program, and you end up having to cancel, or move the deadline.

Now both of these are more than okay. There's nothing wrong with needing help, and it's more than understandable for you to need flexibility as a writer because of you chronic illness. But that doesn't make either one any easier to cope with. I've been published for over fourteen years, and I still look back at the years I didn't write because of health issues, as a bit of 'wasted' time, even though, logically, I know that I couldn't have managed it then and needed that time to focus on other things, like getting my degree.

But yet the brain can be against you and the whole idea of needing to be productive to be valid is a hard battle to fight within yourself, and within the writing community. It's never, usually, framed in a bad light, people are never, usually, telling you that because you don't write this much, or because you need this or that, or because you weren't able to get to this thing, that you're not really a writer. But that doesn't stop the brain gremlins from speaking up and letting you know that's what they think.

I've been really lucky in my writing life that I've always had the support from my friends. I've always had people, even though at the beginning they weren't all writers, telling me that I was doing the best I could, and that was okay. But it took me a long time to be okay with the fact that I needed that reliance, that extra help, and also to be okay with the fact that to some people, I would always be 'unreliable' or 'unable to follow through'.

And for that I really don't have much advice, other than to remind yourself that it's okay to take your time, and it's okay if you need help, and it's okay if you have to re-schedule something because of your health being a pain in the butt. And it's also okay to not be productive. I spent NaNoWriMo last year going at double speed, and while I don't regret doing it, I am still paying for it now. It's something that I'm having to pull back on because I pushed myself so close to burnout. And for what? To prove to my brain gremlins that I was valid?

I AM valid! Just as any other writer is, any other author. You don't have to be madly productive to meet that limit of suddenly being valid, to somehow proving that you are doing this. You're doing what you have to do, to keep yourself healthy and the words coming, and if that takes you months and years, and takes someone else less time, that's not because you're doing it wrong. You are valid. As a writer, as an author, and as a person. End of story.

So I know this isn't the usual tone of my writing advice pieces, but I felt like it needed to be said. I'm struggling right now on a year of limited sleep and still no end in sight. I know that it's hard to get going, and I don't need brain gremlins trying to convince me that because I find it hard, I'm somehow doing it wrong.

So remember that, you're not doing it wrong. Keep going, keep writing, and keep knocking down those brain gremlins!

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