Three factors central to living well with RA are also important when youre writing a book
Written on March 10, 2013 by Lene Andersen
Welcome to Invited Blog on CJ
CreakyJoints welcomes author Lene Andersen to our Invited Blog.
About our Invited Writer…
Lene Andersen is a writer, health and disability advocate and photographer. She is the author of the just-released Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain. Lene has lived with RA since the age of four and has used a power wheelchair since she was 16 years old. She is the Community Leader for HealthCentral.com’s RA site and the author of the award-winning blog The Seated View. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment. Side Effects and Pain – http://www.yourlifewithra.com/
The Seated View – www.theseatedview.com
Three factors central to living well with RA are also important when you’re writing a book
I was honored to be asked to write a guest blog for CreakyJoints about the process of writing my new book, Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain.
I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) since I was four years old, making me a “lifer” with well over 40 years of experience. I meet a lot of people who struggle with the changes to their life that this disease brings. It’s not something you can put it in its own separate niche — when you have RA, your whole life has RA. Learning to juggle everything about this disease and get to a place where your life is first and foremost, can take a long time and a lot of energy. I wanted to make my four decades of RA be useful to others, to help them find the shortcuts to getting empowered, take control and live well with RA. That idea became the Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis series. Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, the first of three books.
Great idea, right? Now I just had to write it…
It took three years. In the process, I discovered that three factors central to living well with RA (and any other kind of inflammatory arthritis) are also important when you’re writing a book.
First, living well with RA often means doing something that’s hard every day. Whether it is the energy required to get out of bed when you are still exhausted or the willpower to take one step after the other when it feels like walking on knives, having RA means you do it anyway. Doing something hard becomes second nature. Writing a book was really hard, too. There was blood, sweat, pulling my hair out and the occasional fit of doubt and anxiety. There were chapters where I needed to do an hour of research for every paragraph and times where the last thing I wanted to do was go to the computer.
Second, living well with RA is about persistence. So is writing. Dorothy Parker famously said that writing is “the art of applying ass to seat.” As I’m a wheelchair user, my behind is permanently affixed to a seat and I rolled that seat to my desk every chance I got for three years. There were times where pain and fatigue meant I had to take a break from writing and there were times where I had to use my energy on other things. Thankfully, that RA persistence kept me going back.
Third, living well with RA means remembering you’re not alone. There is a strong and vibrant community of people with inflammatory arthritis who are there to help you get through the hard times. As I wrote the book, I had help along the way. My family, friends and partner were members of a wonderful cheerleading team. But late at night, my secret friend was Laura Hillebrand (so secret that even she doesn’t know). Whenever I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, I thought of how she wrote Seabiscuit. It took her several years to write her book while severely affected by chronic fatigue syndrome, often writing from her bed. Thinking of Hillebrand was a comfort and motivation to get back to my desk.
After three years of putting one foot (metaphorically) in front of the other, the book has finally been released. It has been an overwhelming experience. Accomplishing my lifelong goal of writing a book was joyful and very emotional. Early feedback has been very positive, with people saying the book is helping them make decisions and feel more empowered. This, it turns out, is the most overwhelming thing of all: that the book is fulfilling my dream that it might help others live well with RA. And as I head back to my desk to write the next two books in the Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis series, that is going to be my comfort and motivation.
Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Treatment, Side Effects and Pain is available for Kindle and Kobo. If you don’t have any e-reader, free apps for computer, tablet and smart phone are available from Amazon and Kobo Books. Other ebook formats will appear in the next few weeks and a paperback edition will be forthcoming in the Spring.