Author with Multiple Sclerosis – MRI scans and writing

head-254866_640Had to have an MRI scan today. If you’ve never had one, imagine having your head strapped down and being pushed inside a giant tube, just slightly bigger than your body, but magnetic. When I went arrived, the nurse had to take me through a series of safety questions: Do I have any metal in my body? Have I ever had a magnetic implant? Have I ever had surgery on my brain? Have I ever had surgery on my ears? I got into a rhythm of saying ‘No, no, no’, but after a while I started to question myself – do I have any shards of metal in my eye? Do I have a prosthetic limb? It’s one of those things, a little bit like writing – Just when I think I know what I’m talking about, self-doubt creeps in, and I start to question everything, but once I was past that, came the ‘please remove…’ part of the questionnaire. Did I have any money, even notes (they have metal strip)? Bank card? Phone? Belt buckle? It all had to go. I gave them £25 that I had in my pocket. I asked for £55 back afterwards, but they had been paying attention, unfortunately. They took my cardigan (zip) my glasses and by necklace (wood and elastic, but what the hell, ‘Just in case’). They also told me I couldn’t go into the MRI room in my wheelchair. When I asked why, they told me ‘if you take your chair in there, it will rip it apart. Nice. That filled me with confidence right before they put me inside a giant magnet, capable of pulling the metal out of my body.

The experience itself wasn’t too bad. I wasn’t claustrophobic, and they gave me a panic button to press, but also said that if I pressed it, they would have to start the whole process from scratch. So I didn’t press it.

When I came out, I asked what super-powers could I expect to have gained, but they said none, which was disappointing. I assumed I would come out somewhere between Captain America and Hulk. Ho hum.

What did the scan tell me? Well, apparently, I have Multiple Sclerosis, which is a bummer.

How does that relate to my writing?

Aside from some sort of Professor X-type mind powers I was hoping for, I think what I faced was similar to what I face as a writer every time I press the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button. When I write, I do so alone. I spend days / weeks writing a story, and usually each thing I write I tend to think is the best thing I have ever written (rightly or wrongly). Then comes the part where I have to show it someone, and that’s where it becomes scary.

Of course, I don’t have to show it to anyone, and for a long time, I didn’t, but a few years ago, I reached a decision, that I wanted someone to read something that I had written. That meant hitting that ‘publish’ button and sending my work out to the Internet. Initially I posted work on sites like Wattpad, as complete pieces of work. Once I started sending out to online magazines, I needed more feedback to make the work the best it could be. For me that meant showing a couple of friends, both of whom are voracious readers. I wanted to know if my stories were interesting, worth reading. Showing friends brings with it a whole new world of doubt – will they think my work is below-par and how would I feel about that? As scary as it was, I sent work to them and realised that as the feedback came back, they were not going to spare my feelings! But they told the truth and it helped me to get better. It also meant that when they tell me they like something, I tend to believe them!

If you can find people who can give constructive feedback for your work, take a chance and let them. If you don’t have friends like that, try one of the many online writing communities (I suggest a few here), where you can receive feedback from a much wider range of people. I’ve just become a member of ‘The Write Practice’ for a competition they are currently running. They offer a chance to submit a story, have it looked at by their community, and improve the piece. I don’t know if it will make me a contest winner, but I do know that it will make my writing better, and that’s got to be a good thing, right?

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