Girl of Many Scars Ponders the Year Ahead…

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So, my neurologist approves of Cribbins. She read it, enjoyed it and now looks forward to reading more of my work. How cool is that? Also, my annual MRI results came back showing no new lesions or scarring, which means the disease modifying treatment I had for MS is working. There’s no new disease activity!

My last relapse was back in February 2016, which means I’ve been in remission for over two years now. But even though I’ve been in remission for all that time – and probably look fairly normal to the casual observer – it’s taken till now for my body to get back to normal. Well, as near to normal as it can be with my immune system shot to shit.

This time last year, when I was fast approaching round two of treatment, I tried going to the gym because I was fed up of the sedentary lifestyle MS had forced on me. But one session wiped me out. Like, totally floored me. I wasn’t ready for that sort of physical exertion.

But now, a year after my second round of treatment, I’m fighting fit and raring to go!

Now don’t get me wrong, I hate every single torturous, sweat-dripping second of going to the gym, but I do it because, firstly, I can and, secondly, it gets me closer to having the sort of physical fitness I’d like. So I force myself to go.

Which brings me to another goal of mine: creative productivity.

Till lately I always thought I was a ‘one-book-a-year’ type of girl. That’s always been the typical turnaround and, I dunno, I guess I thought I needed that long for an idea to fully develop and transfer itself onto the page. But now, I’m questioning that overall theory and actually want to prove it wrong.

It might turn out that trying to up my speed doesn’t work and, much like last year’s attempt at going to the gym, will turn out to be a big fat no-no.

But what if it does work?

What if I’ve been imposing unnecessary restrictions on myself?

After all, I’ve never fallen victim to writer’s block, and have enough notes in my ‘ideas notebook’ to fuel the next twenty books or more.

I won’t know until I try, will I?

But will a speedier turnaround affect the overall quality of my work?

No. I self-edit the hell out of my work before I have it edited properly and that’s a part of the process that won’t change at all. I just need to condition myself to be faster and better at getting the first drafts done.

I guess with every new project most writers tend to listen to their inner demons too much, giving credence to self-annihilating questions such as: What if no one likes it? What if it’s the biggest load of shit anyone’s ever read in the history of shit books? What if it’s not as good on paper as it is in my head? What if it doesn’t live up to the last book? What if I offend someone? What if no one ‘gets it’? What if the protagonist is a total cockweasel who no one likes? What if it’s a massive one-starrer and destroys the brand I’ve worked my arse off to build up over the years?

Well, I’m gonna extend my middle finger to my inner demons from now on because, well, who’s got time for that shit?

If MS has taught me anything, it’s to push myself and strive for more. It reminded me how valuable time is and that nothing in life is guaranteed. You can be happy and carefree one day, but the next, without any warning, your world can easily be blown apart.

I got through the dark days of MS, and who knows maybe I’ll enjoy another 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, hell, even the rest of my life without another relapse, but the not knowing makes me more determined to succeed in all of the things I’m passionate about…you know, just in case.

MS has made me stronger. It’s taught me to challenge myself more than ever. The treatment has caused merry hell with other aspects of my health, but on the whole I feel pretty much back to my old self. I get flare ups of old damage now and then – a subtle reminder of what happened. And that’s okay, because I never want to forget. I never want to reach a point where I’m blasé about the days when my MS was active and aggressive just because it’s become a distant memory.

Multiple sclerosis is actually latin for ‘many scars’ and, personally, I prefer that term. It sounds more badass.

So, on that note, I’m R. H. Dixon, a girl of many scars. And next year I WILL release four or five books.

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