I’m getting there, slowly. The past month has been busy and not always for the right reasons. I have meant to work on the opening of the novel, preparing it for the Mslexia competition, but as is typical I became distracted by many other things. I suspect it is often like this for all writers, and I am certain I have experienced this before: but not quite on such a scale. I have actively been avoiding editing the novel, not quite consciously but definitely noticeable as I look back on the last few weeks.
Those that have been following me some time will know that I came back to writing in a roundabout, difficult way. If you are not familiar with my active decision to begin writing again and prioritise the dream I had take a moment to read “The long winding road of how to be a writer…” There you will find out why I had to put the breaks on my life for a short time and adapt to living with a debilitating condition called M.E. One of the common traits of people who suffer with this condition is the over-achiever attitude. Typically, we are of the ilk that we do everything, all of the time and have no concept of how the word ‘No’ might work.
I got used to ‘No’ being my automatic response to things when I was diagnosed with M.E. But that was five years ago and in that time I’ve learned to balance to my energy with rest and discovered how to do the things I want without compromising my health (most of the time). Because of this I am, for the most part, recovered: though I still suffer with flare ups and it takes me an inordinate amount of time to bounce back from general illnesses like colds.
What does this mean? It means I have rediscovered my love of the word ‘Yes’ and rekindled my passion for the inward glow of satisfaction at a job well done. In the last few months I have taken on the role of Secretary for my home town Literature Festival, found the joys of paper-cutting as a new hobby and agreed to use my Egyptological skills in helping to moderate an online course in November. [Hmm, Yes. I did just say: November. That lovely month of the 50,000 word challenge.] Let’s not mention the languishing novel I need to polish for submission or my desire to write short stories, or even my oft-neglected homework for my writing group.
So, it’s safe to say I have become the ‘Yes’ woman once again. I have convinced myself of the phrase: “She believed she could, so she did.” Only, it’s not so easy as that for me. Hence why, over the last two weeks I’ve had a terrible cold which put me in bed pretty much all weekend and disrupted all of those things I had been meaning to do.
That cold was a reminder of what life can be like for me with M.E. If I truly want to have my book published it needs to be prioritised. I can’t do everything – not like I once did – and so I have to pick and choose wisely those things that I spend my time and energy on. I don’t intend to put back any of my current intentions, but I’m certainly going to have to start refusing any more that come my way for the time being. All I need to do is balance my workload smartly, and I know I can do that: I’ve been doing it for five years, slowly building up the weight of said load to see what else I could carry.
Well, now I recognise my limit, I know where I’m at. And I’m pleased to say that, just before writing this post, I polished up those 5,000 words that begin my novel and a print out is now awaiting my judgement once I’ve had some time away. And that’s how this works. One step at a time; one task at a time; one dream at a time. I can’t concentrate on my novel while I’m thinking of new paper cuts to try, or answer emails when a short story thread is pulling at my imagination. I need to be present: be mindful; be in the moment. And of all the things I’ve learned over the past five years, M.E. has taught me that this is the real way to achieve what we want.