So, 2017…

Tried, but didn’t quite make it back here in January. Been awful poorly. Caught a chest infection sometime back in mid-December and although it’s nearly gone now I’m still laid low.

Missed an appointment with my consultant eye surgeon Monday. Too ill to leave the house, never mind spend a day in the hospital. So back down the surgery list I go.

That’s it. See you when I can sit up and type more.

A slow week can still be a good week

Photo by Uğur GürcüoğluSky Train is up near 30k and I’m pleased with last week’s work. I spent four long evenings on a single chapter, which is a new POV character’s introduction in the form of a sort of flashback.

He wants to be an MC’s love interest, and to overcome her mistrust of strangers he tells her his secret story. He’s the leader of a Quaker-like travelling religious group now, but in the war he was a sniper. And his secret is a big one. He’s trusting her with his life.

So I was researching sniper tactics and counter-tactics, and writing an op, and it was a slow process, and that felt perfect because everything about his old job is slow and ultra-cautious.

Thursday night I didn’t sleep. Trapped nerve pain was too sharp. I wrote, edited, and polished right the way through until 7 Friday morning, until the chapter was done and I was more pleased with it than I’d expected to be back there in the middle of that painful night.

Then I crashed. ME doesn’t let you pull all-nighters without punishment. I’ve been washed out like a pebble beach all weekend and haven’t even thought of writing anything. Slept a lot, showered when I woke up, ate a bit now and then, but mostly just slept.  No panic though. I know where the story’s going, and once I’m through this fog I’ll dive back in.

Brain damage

Bridge photo by Tony WebsterHad the horrible realisation last week that what I’ve been calling brain fog all these years has now become brain damage.

Another friend of mine with severe ME has died. Jodi Bassett was only 40. Artist, writer, for twenty years an advocate for ME sufferers, and founder of The Hummingbirds Foundation. Through her detailed and influential papers on that site she helped many people (including many doctors) to understand the medical science of our disease. One remark I remember her making about her own condition was that the brain disease had caused real and permanent brain damage.

Last week, while enjoying one of Frauke Spanuth’s excellent workshops, I came up against a wall that no amount of determination and persistence on my part or intelligent and calm teaching on her part could get me around, and I saw it for what it is.

Frauke has been so patient with me all through our mentorship this year, while I’ve struggled to learn and apply new skills that even a year ago I would have absorbed without scratching my head.

Clearly, I still have the ability to communicate. I still have the words. But the learning new skills part of my brain is burned away.

And, yes, the ME was (and still is) punishing me in its normal nasty way for overdoing it with ten hours of good writing on my new project over the previous weekend. But that wasn’t the case for the three months of our mentor program, when these exact same brain symptoms stopped me from functioning.

That’s where I found myself in the middle of last week, and I didn’t know where I would go from that point.

It wasn’t the anguished wail it probably sounds like. It was more a hollow thud of recognition.

But then I realised I wasn’t getting any intel that my brain’s frustrating inability to learn new technical skills is affecting my ability to write. I mean, yes, my ten hours of weekend writing had kicked me to the kerb, but it’s good. Really good stuff that I’m very happy to build on.

I’m probably tempting fate saying this, but sod it. It’s my fate and I’ll tempt it if I want to. This is how I see this development:

It’s frustrating as hell that the part of my brain that enables me to learn new technical skills has gone, but  I still have the creative planning and writing parts of my brain.

Last night I wrote 500 good Sky Train words to start its second chapter. This project is very much still alive.

And the other aspect of this is that for a writer, nothing, nothing, is a wasted experience. 😉