Today I had a conversation with my little boy which went something like this:
A: Do my mummy and daddy die?
Me: Yes, at some point. It’s alright. It’s what’s meant to happen.
A: Hmm. When you and daddy die I’ll need to take some money and buy new ones. And go to a party. You get new mummies and daddies at parties.
Me: Um, right.
Tonight my husband told me (once again) he thinks I take on too much, try to do too many things, run myself ragged and get stressed. These two conversations made me realise something which is perhaps blindingly obvious or common to other writers but came as a shock to me:
I’m perfectly comfortable with my mortality as far as me-dying-before-my-son goes (though I do sincerely hope he is a lot older than his current 4 when it happens, and is healthy, happy, safe and secure when it does). It’s natural and normal and only to be expected. But the idea of dying before I’ve written all I want to write, read all I could possibly read, and gone to all these wonderful worlds in my head (not in reality – I’m not one for travelling) fills me with actual-factual terror.
As my facebook friends know, I tend to have migraines. Unpleasant, vomit-inducing, atypical migraines. When they started interfering with my life a couple of years ago, no-one knew what they were. The GP was confident I was pregnant, I was equally confident I was not – and when the drippy stick confirmed my womb’s empty state he was worried. Maybe it was epilepsy. Okay, so long as I could still look after my baby without worrying about an ‘absence’ when we were at the park or crossing the road or whatever, I could handle that. We sent off for some leaflets, had a look about online, tried to remember what I’d studied at Uni on the subject, and kept our fingers crossed it wasn’t something degenerative.
We went to see a neurologist who ran some tests. It was an unusual form of migraine. A lot of my family have them, though theirs are far more painful than mine, so there was nothing too mystifying there. I told him about my writing and he suggested it was a symptom. Since it was ‘going well’ rather than interfering with my life, there was no need to worry about it (not that I was). But he advised I start taking medication before the migraines got much worse, as he strongly suspected they would. He couldn’t say whether the medicine would pick and choose which symptoms to reduce or get rid of – or whether I would lose the writing if I tried it.
So I didn’t. My writing career took off and the migraines got steadily worse. I am now symptomatic every day, and have been for nearly six months. I’ve also moved house and country (boo), become co-editor of Spilling Ink Review (yay!), and have my first book [Wild: a collection] coming out in July (hip hip hooray!). I have the 24 hour non-pregnant version of morning sickness every single day.
Tonight I will start taking a beta-blocker and see how it goes. I’m to take it for a month, every night. I’m really really scared, and I feel guilty about being scared about something like this – we have so much going for us and I’m grateful for all of it. But to lose the writing? I would no longer be me. Bring out Donald Sutherland and the rest of the pod people, let me join the ranks of fake faces and false bodies.
I also have a very important deadline to meet: I have a month to write the first draft of another book. With my previous two [a supernatural thriller and a crime thriller] that was no problem. Our circumstances have changed since then – quite apart from the meds – so this time I’m not so sure. No pressure then (!).
So… this blogpost is my goodbye to nausea but, I hope, not to writing.
It is also my statement of intent.
I’m going to do this.
I have to.