Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Time Flies, So I May as Well Be Writing (Lupus Life)


Today is release day for Sweet Haven.

This is book number 39 for me.

That's a lot of books. It's also a lot of words and sentences and paragraphs. One of my kids calculated that I have written 2.6 million words during my twelve-year writing career. It's a good estimate, but I figure I've far exceeded it. All those words that I've written and deleted, the books I started and then scrapped, the journal entries that will never see the light of day, the blog post and unpublished books and secret beginnings of secret stories that may or may not ever be finished, they add up to a lot more words and sentences and paragraphs.

You might wonder if book number 39 is as special to me as book number 1. Maybe you wonder if I will get the same thrill from seeing Sweet Haven on the shelves as I did when this one was released:

Trust me when I say that it is and that I will.

Sweet Haven is not just book number 39. It is proof of the fact that I am still alive and kicking. It is evidence that the thing that could have stolen my career has not. Lupus is no joke, friends. It steals a lot of things - energy, joy, creativity. If we let it, it will steal so much more.

It is a silent disease, but it is loud for the person who is living with it.

Pass me on the street, and you will never know that I am ill.

Truth? This year, I finally reached a healthy weight. My friends and family tell me how wonderful I look. I guess I can understand why. In our culture, weight is indicative of health, and lupus has graciously helped me lose a lot of it.  You can see the progression here. The first picture is summer 2014 when I was just beginning to suspect something was very wrong. The next picture is this past summer. I'd lost 35 pounds by then, and I knew I had lupus. The last picture is from my birthday in December. At that point, I'd lost 45. I've lost a little more since then.

For the record, I am not trying to lose weight. I am losing weight because it is difficult for me to enjoy food. Which is really not fun, but maybe I'll share more about that another time. Today is not for mourning what isn't. Today, is about celebrations, so I'll simply say that all the medicine in the world can't completely mask the symptoms of lupus. Today, my fingers ache and my feet have pins and needles. My stomach hurts from the medicine I take to keep my immune system from attacking healthy tissue, but I woke to hear rain pattering on the window and a bird singing a joyful song. It was 6 a.m, and my body was stiff and my back ached, and I thought I could lie in bed forever and still not feel like I'd rested.

But, you are alive, a voice whispered, so get up and live.

And, so I did.

I opened up a manuscript that I am working on, and I started writing, because I am alive and time is flying by, so I may as well be writing and loving and living and celebrating.

Today, is release day for my 39th book, and I can still hear the rain dripping from the eaves and feel my heart thumping in my chest and my fingers throbbing as they tap the keyboard.  I can still hear all the words from all the stories that I have yet to write, scratching like fingers on a chalkboard in my brain, demanding my attention.

Time is flying, and we all have to choose what we will do with it.

Today, I choose to love and be loved, to write and to read, to bake some bread and make some whoopie pies with my girls, because the rain is still falling and the day is calling, and I may as well live it joyfully.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;

    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy.
Psalm 65:8


Melissa Jeglinski said...

As always, I am in awe of you. Today you truly motivated me. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and your wonderful outlook. And the book is fantastic, too! Happy Release Day! Here's to many more!

Shirlee McCoy said...

MJ, I mean this sincerely when I say I could not have done this without your quiet support. When I really didn't think I could write another word, I kept thinking about all the people who believe in me - my family, my friends, my editors and you. It kept me going when the words wouldn't come and the tears were falling and I thought my career was over. Thanks isn't enough but I guess it's all I have. So, thanks! :0)

Melissa Jeglinski said...

You are so welcome!

Susan Sleeman said...

Lovely post, Shirley. I have an autoimmune disease, too, so I totally understand your journey and you put the struggle into words as beautifully as you write in your books. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on another book!

Casidy Giles said...

Ahhhh I do love you and your books Shirlee. You can do anything. Even if you are sick. Shirlee McCoy: she's not atrocious

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thanks, Susan! Casidy, Emma said that to me yesterday to cheer me up. And, it did. Love you, kid!