The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for me, both as a writer, and someone with a degenerative condition. If any of you follow this blog (and I know there are at least one or 2 of you – thanks mum!), you may have noticed a gap of several weeks’ worth of posts. Things are slowly working their way back to a baseline level, but there is still some distance to travel. So on to the update, and as usual, writing first:
My first thought when I looked at these numbers was ‘holy cow!’ Does that mean my writing is bad, all my newsletters are rubbish? Well, when I look at the interaction figures over the last few months from these newsletters, I can see that I had an open rate well above the industry average, and each newsletter had a click rate approaching 50%, which is not too bad.
What it has left me with (which is no bad thing), is a highly targeted list of people that chose to remain on my mailing list, even when there was no freebie on offer. It feels a bit like having access to a secret club now, and a lot more personal!
I’ve also written first drafts of two new short stories, one of which is available to read in its early form over on Chapterbuzz, and is inviting comments from readers. As it stands, I’m not satisfied with large parts of it, but that’s okay, as for me, it represented my way back into writing after some time away. It was written fully as a ‘pantser’ , meaning that I opened a Word document and started typing. I did no planning or outlining like I would normally do. I didn’t really know where it was going until I got there, which was quite exciting, to be honest. The second story doesn’t even have an ending yet, just a vague notion floating around in my head, which is fine with me. It felt good to be back at the keyboard after a few weeks of struggling (see below), and I would recommend some similar writing if you find yourself blocked or have been away from writing for a while. Just writing without any thought of where it’s going is quite refreshing!
My health took an unpleasant downturn over the last couple of months (hence the lateness of this diary update). My pain levels went back through the roof, which makes it difficult to concentrate, but as far as is possible, I think I have it under control now. The medication I take is keeping the pain at a manageable level. I could take more (Nortiptalyne), but I find that the negative side effects are unpleasant enough to make me not want to take any more than absolutely necessary.
I’m still taking Fampyra (cool name for a horror character) which helps with my limited mobility (it allows me to transfer from wheelchair to regular chair), Zapain, which is for pain relief (I’ll be stopping that soon as it’s not really helping), Baclofen for muscle spasticity, and I still inject Rebiff 3 times a week to help keep my number of relapses under control, which is important as my MS has moved into the secondary progressive stage but with super-imposed relapses, which makes me feel special!
I’ve been offered appointments at the pain management clinic but so far, I’ve not bothered – what would be the point? This is the hand I’ve been dealt in life and I just need to get on with it, right?
This last downswing had affected my ability to think clearly as well as upped my fatigue levels to the point that coming home from a day at work, then writing, was too much to contemplate. Something had to give, and unfortunately, I need the day job to bring in money, so the writing took a back seat for several weeks. I thought that would help, but after a few weeks of no writing, I began to feel worse from doing nothing, so I went back to my keyboard, but with a new goal of writing when I feel able, which, surprisingly, is more than I thought, now that I have started again!
But the big news is that in the last 2 weeks, work has started on an extension to my house, which will give me a downstairs bedroom – have you tried getting up stairs in a wheelchair?? I’m hoping it will take some of my stress away, as the night time routine is currently very stressful, and I rely on my 5’2″ wife to help me up the stairs, which is unpleasant for both of us, but also means I feel that I can’t stay up at night to write, as I can’t get into bed after! When the extension is completed, my bed will be about 2 metres away from my Mac, so that will be an improvement!
Here’s what’s been happening:
The view from the back of my house now…
New drains went in…now I have a giant hole!
The view from the back of what’s left of my garden…
Very exciting, but I’m really sorry to be losing the garden. My wife loves the garden.
More updates to come, but I’m interested to know how people deal with pain – were you straight to the hospital, or did you investigate alternatives, and how effective were they?