So, this isn’t going to be the usual Friday When Life Hands You Lymes post. That’s because, well, there’s been a lot of changes happening with WLHYL. This post is going to be full of change, information, numbers and all that kind of good stuff.
See, when I started writing WLHYL in January of 2014, I knew it was going to be a difficult book for me to write and therefore I would need some kind of accountability to keep me going. That’s why I chose to post segments on Noveltea each Friday.
I quickly realized that wasn’t ideal because while I do plot, my plots are very basic and subject to a lot of change. That meant that I’d randomly realize that I was sharing a storyline with y’all that was going to change and morph and become something totally different. Or I’d go off on a bunny trail that had no conclusion.
I can’t properly explain why Madalyn’s story has been so difficult/rewarding/challenging/everything-else for me except to say I feel her pain. I’ve been through what she went through and I want to help the world understand what it’s like and that’s a huge responsibility. I went through years of being misunderstood while trying to find a diagnosis for a mysterious illness that stole my strength. How do I put that into words that convey the correct emotions without turning it into a whining fest? Plus, there are so many people out there who are still struggling with Lyme disease. I want to help encourage them and make sure I don’t compromise the reality of Lyme disease for sensationalism or by romanticizing it.
Sometimes while writing I’m worried that what if people think this is my story? What if the people I know personally try to figure out which character they are? Because this isn’t my story. This is Madalyn’s. The two of us are very different. By the same token, I did go through a lot of the things Madalyn goes through and so it’s difficult being open about them. It’s painful ripping up the past. Sort of like cutting through scar tissue. It hurts. But it’s necessary.
At the beginning of this year I looked back at what I had written and was appalled by my pervious writing. So I changed tracks and “started” at a new place in the book. That’s because I knew Madalyn and her story and her life so much better after working on it every single day for a year and I was ready to get serious. I also wrote a better plot.
Near the middle of February I sat down and got a lot of writing done. I coasted along with posting that on my blog for the next few weeks while tinkering around and trying to figure out what I was really doing with WLHYL. Then near the end of February I sat down and I buried myself in Madalyn’s world.
I would sit on my chair in my office, choose a point in my plot that matched the emotions I felt I would be able to properly convey at that time and write for hours. I ended up with a folder on my laptop that looked like this:
Another thing I did in March was gather all the different stories and segments I had written about Lyme disease and put them together. Here’s a breakdown of what I had to work with:
In 2014 I posted 41,882 words of WHLYL on Noveltea.
In 2015 I posted 15,224 words.
And I had 50,518 words that I wrote during this week in 2013. The storyline is totally different but it’s all about Lyme disease so I knew I could use some of the emotions.
I also had 7,307 words from various blog posts I had written about Lyme disease in 2013 when I still had Lyme disease. I knew there was some of those words I could use.
And last of all I had 2,654 words from blog posts from my sister’s blog that I wanted to use.
That meant I had 117,585 words to work with and read through and weed out. During this past month I spent hour after hour copying, pasting, deleting, changing, revising and re-writing. I probably ended up cutting out about 50,000 of those words so I had around 68,000 words to work with. Then I added probably around 43,000 words which means WLHYL currently has almost 111,000 words.
So, pretty much… All of this to say that the story has changed. A lot. I’ve finally figured out when the story starts, how long it goes for and what is supposed to be included, although I’m still trying to figure out just where the story ends. Which brings me to my next point:
I don’t actually have more segments to share with you right now. I know. Ouch. That’s because I didn’t continue writing after the last segment I posted. I just began over again. Sorry for all the confusion, people!
The good news is that I can share parts of the story. So now for the 65th segment of my fictional story When Life Hands You Lymes…
We slip and slide down the red earthen bank, bubbles of joy dancing around my heart. I close my eyes and feel the luscious sea wind blowing in my face, tugging my hair that frames my face and tickling my nose.
I open my eyes when I feel someone tuck their arm through mine.
“This feels like a movie, doesn’t it?” Katie asks. Her voice is relaxed, happy.
I nod as I feel the beauty enveloping my soul.
“Are you two coming?” Jason waves at us from down closer to the beach.
“The water’s refreshing, come join us!” Darrick extends the invitation.
“Refreshing?” Katie cups one hand around her mouth to shout at them. “Don’t you mean freezing?” Katie and I skip toward the swelling waves.
“It’s all the same thing in my book,” comes Darrick’s quick reply.
Jason already has the picnic blanket laid out by the time we reach him.
“Here, my lady.” Darrick leaves the waters edge to come over and give me my violin case. “Would you delight us with some music?”
I laugh at him, I love it when he gets in his old fashioned mood. “Of course, kind sir.” I do a curtsey then reach for my musical instrument. I put Whimsy on my shoulder and close my eyes with gratitude. This is the most perfect of perfect days. Katie and I are both wearing white dresses complete with lace, ruffles and bows. I’m with my siblings about ready to enjoy a picnic on a gorgeous beach on Prince Edward Island and I’m about ready to dance my thoughts away on the cords of my violin.
I open my eyes as I begin a jaunty tune, wanting to etch every moment of our time into my memory bank. We’d all agreed no cell phones or electronics would be allowed today, so the pictures I store in my brain will be the only ones I have and I couldn’t be happier. We’d also agreed no talk about Emerson Airlines. This was our day to relax. To exist. To just be outside of Emerson Airlines, outside of connecting with the rest of the world.
When I’m done with my brisk tune I switch to a deeper cord and play a reminiscent melody of childhood years gone by. I infuse my music with every emotion I’m feeling and when I finally finish the piece off with a flourish, I’m greeted by applause.
“That was beautiful, Madalyn.” Jason appears almost shocked as he takes the violin from me and carefully sets it in it’s case. “You’ve improved by leaps and bounds since I last heard you playing.
“It’s no wonder, too.” Katie leans back against the blanket. The wind has died down by this time, producing a calming atmosphere. “She’s so dedicated to her music it often puts me to shame.”
Now it’s my turn to be surprised, I want to dispute the claim, argue that no, Katie’s far more serious about Emerson Airlines than I am about anything, but I hold back. Maybe there is truth to what she says.
“I remember before you were born,” Jason takes a carrot stick out of the basket and munches on it. “Mom knew back then that you’d be musical because you’d always start kicking and moving around whenever there was music playing.”
* * *
I would be delighted to hear what your thoughts are and I’m sorry for the crazy switch up and change. I’ve seriously been trying to figure out what to do about posting the story on my blog for the last month or so. Hopefully my solution works fine. Thanks for hanging in there with me, y’all!