ME and fibromyalgia doesn’t mean gradually getting more tired and in pain throughout the day or having occasional days but it means pushing through the exhaustion and pain several times a day. I have to find something in myself to push through and get out bed, to answer the phone, to get to lectures. It means constantly making compromises and never being a good girlfriend, sister or daughter because you always end up not calling someone on their birthday or missing the party, not getting someone a card, never replying to the text or phone call, missing the presentation. Constantly, constantly, constantly apologising and canceling. Having a chonic illness means you’ll never be a woman of your word but always unreliable. You’re always trying to make the decision between being the person who never accepts an invitation or being the person who never turns up. I am so lucky to have a partner who loves me despite the birthday cards and parties he never got. I’m lucky enough to have a sister who loves me despite never getting to be the one who takes the lift instead of the train. A best friend who continues to be just that despite all the unanswered texts, emails, letters, calls, despite my absence when she needs me and despite my never having visited her once, although she travels hours to visit me. I am lucky enough to have parents who will look after me like a toddler when what they really need is for me to be strong for them.
I have just begun reading A Novel in a Yearby Louise
Which route will you choose?
Doughty. It’s been a dream of mine for a good few years to become a writer, although I am fully aware there are millions, probably billions of other writers with the same dream. Agents and publishers get thousands of manuscripts a year, assuming you even get to the stage where you finish a manuscript. In the introduction of the book Doughty admits that it took her 10 years to become a published author. She wrote two full manuscripts and began several other novels before she wrote the manuscript that would be published. At that point I pretended to shoot myself in the head. The worst thing for aspiring novelists to hear is that there is a very strong possibility that the “genius” idea they have in their heads will never sit on a shelf in Waterstones. It takes so much effort, time and even a blood to finish a full novel, it’s painful enough to have to edit and cut huge parts of that manuscript, but to do all that, only to have it go unread, that’s hard to swallow. That’s why, for Doughty, the most important question that any aspiring writer must ask themself is – what are you willing to sacrifice? That’s a question anyone who has a dream, big or small must ask themselves. The harsh truth is that what holds people back most is themselves. For most people there are tons of reasons not to take a risk in order to achieve what they want, but some people give it a go anyway.
I have great role models in my parents, when they were into 40s they decided they would take a risk and try to train for jobs they wanted. It’s not an easy choice to try to live off a student loan when you have a mortgage to pay and two children. They had to travel over an hour to and from the University they studied at, take out a loan, but most of all, for my dad there was the huge risk of his health. My dad has several ailments which had destroyed his life, prevented him for working (and caused huge financial difficulties), meant he couldn’t be the father he wanted to be, and had to be cared for like a toddler by my mum. He risked the years and years he had spent trying to get better, he could easily have lost of all the progress he had worked so hard for after only attempting a full-time course for a few weeks. On top of that, his illnesses made study incredibly hard, the bound copy of his thesis which sits on their bookshelf, is representative of the hours and hours and hours more time he spent working on it than his counter-parts because he was unable to type and held back by severe dyslexia. Somehow my parents found the courage to do it anyway. My dad set up his own business, and keeps it going despite the amount of pain he is in, I have no idea how he gets out of bed in the morning. The only conclusion I can come to is that they wanted it bad enough. They could have listed the gazillion reasons not to follow their dreams, it would have been easy for my dad to simply give up and not want to fight to get better and back into work, but he did it.
Is there a dream or ambition you have? Why aren’t you trying to follow it?