2013 did not go how I expected. In January my first book was published: Confessions of a Fashionista – a humorous memoir of my time in the fashion industry. The first few months of the year were spent in a whirl of promotional activities: writing features and articles, event appearances and a lot of networking. As far as I was concerned I was laying the foundations to my new career as an author. Instead I was laying the foundations for a terrible health scare.
I have EDS III, a degenerative connective tissue disorder which makes bones weak, tissues vulnerable to damage, and leaves sufferers with both sporadic and chronic pain. Pushing myself in my work life cost me dearly. In April 2013 I suffered a massive flare up and was unable to walk for six weeks. This was just the beginning. The damage to my body and my core strength was extensive. By September I could just about manage typing for one hour a day, three days a week. Work became a distant dream as I focused on pacing, and building my strength and my health back up. I started 2014 fragile and nervous, hopeful that I might be able to get back to writing properly.
2014 did not go how I expected. I trained myself so I could write 700 words per day, and then trained myself to stop there: terrified that pushing too hard would cause a flare up again. My resolutions, my aims were small, compact, and achievable: I would write the rough draft of a novel.
And then life changed the rules. In March 2014 I was prescribed new drugs. The effect was amazing. I slept. And my body began to heal. I grew stronger and stronger. It was in May, while I was sorting the un-tackled filing from the previous year, that my mum’s words hit home: ‘You’re like yourself again.’ It was like being given permission to try again, to reach, to hope. I still had to pace, and my condition will always need careful management, but it was no longer a choice between having EDS III and being me. I could be me. I could do what I wanted. I pushed on with my novel.
And then in June a documentary director I’d previously worked with asked if I’d like to write the script for a short fiction film. I said yes. Who knew when I’d get another chance to do something like this? Who knew if I’d be well enough? Eagerly I completed the project and the film, Drift, was shot in July.
In July I was offered the role of sit-in host on Radio Verulam, to cover a presenter’s maternity leave. I might never get another shot at this, I thought. I said yes, and I trained up on how to use the desk, sourced guests, produced and hosted the current affairs show Outspoken. It was challenging, rewarding and a huge buzz. For the first time in months I didn’t spend all day in pyjamas.
In October the opportunity to write a play arose. Timing was tight and I knew I’d have to push myself physically to complete it, but it was too exciting to say no. If I was careful with everything else then my body should hold. So I became a social hermit, and the rehearsed readings for my play The Legacy were staged in late December at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden.
It was a glorious end to a year where I’d resolved to write a novel and ended up writing a short film, penning a play, and hosting a radio show. I never set out to achieve these things but when opportunity knocked I said: ‘Disability be damned, hell yeah!’ The way your year unfolds depends less on what you resolve to do in January, and much more on how you respond to what arises throughout it. Sometimes bad things happen and it upsets all your plans. It’s okay: you will get through it. Because sometimes good things happen and upset all your plans too. And that novel I was writing? I finished it in December. Take that, New Year’s resolutions! Wishing you a happy, healthy, and fruitful 2015, whatever you wish for.
I had intended to write this at the beginning of January, but a bout of sinusitis has rather amusingly supported my point.