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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Writing and Retention with Fibromyalgia

For as long as I can remember, I've been a sponge when it came to reading. When I was a kid, I'd read anything I could get my hands on. As I got older, it became the time I could spend just for me.
The same was true for my writing. Although it was very different when I first started out, it evolved as I did. But always one thing remained, it was for me.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with then a little known disorder, fibromyalgia. I use the word disorder even though it is characterized as a real disease, because most people look at you sideways if you dare to group this with something really treacherous. It took several doctor visits and tests to come to this funny little word. One I really hate by the way. It just sounds like the reject of diseases. But nonetheless, here it is. Over the years I have kept this funny little word at bay by exercise like yoga and cardio, combined with trying to eat healthy. Notice I said trying. Just like everyone else, I have my vices. Mine are usually in the form of dark chocolate with nuts, coconut and cherries. Oh and let us not forget the celestial being—peanut butter.

Most of the things that I have experienced over the years I've learned to deal with. Pain can be treated, prevented on occasion and tolerated. You learn to live with the fact that there are no longer days you don't feel it, just days you feel it less. It's stupid actually, to moan about something like this funny little word when there is real suffering in the world. So you internalize.

But there is one side effect that honestly breaks my heart. It's what they refer to as fibro fog. It clouds my memories and then eats at them. There are countless books, classics that I know I've read but can no longer remember. When I write, it has become a challenge to know who my characters are, their names, what I intended to do or how the journey was progressing. I have notebooks filled with things to remind me where I'm going and the place I left off the day before. My desk draw is literally comprised of notes. Unlike a few years ago when I could sit down write, walk away and then just resume, I now have to read back to refresh my mind. Sometimes I need to go back chapters to be sure. It won't stop me from doing what I love, but it sure does try. In addition, I no longer retain correct grammar, which for someone who loved English class is more than an annoyance. It's an embarrassment.

When I work with an editor and they know they have pointed out on other projects the proper use of things like capitalization use, punctuation, etc. it's humiliating to me. Knowing there is a reason other than I just don't take the time or care, but not wanting to say the words out loud. I don't retain the knowledge. It's fine when I'm working with the current edits but as soon as I'm done and I start writing another book it's as if I go on reset and the page is blank again. This funny little word has silently changed my life forever, but it's okay. I keep a good supply of paper and pens.

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