Monday, April 18, 2011

Why I Write - A Writer with Sarcoidosis

The hashtag #WhyIWrite has been trending on Twitter lately and I thought I would do a blog post on why I write. Writing is very personal for me as I'm sure it is for anyone who writes. I've been writing since I could write. When I was in kindergarten I was allowed to stay inside from recess so I could write my latest story. My friend Ginny was my illustrator. When you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always replied, "an author." I pursued my writing through college by majoring in Journalism. I loved telling a story and learning the craft. When I graduated, I continued to write and landed a job doing technical and scientific writing. There's not a whole lot of creativity in technical writing, but I still managed to write in my free time just not on a daily basis. 

In 2009 I began experiencing weird symptoms; swollen joints, large painful lumps formed under my skin, I had terrible headaches, pain everywhere and chronic fatigue. I kept going to my primary doctor who ran some tests, but he couldn't figure out what was going on so he sent me to a rheumatologist in January of 2010. That was when I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis; a multi systemic autoimmune disease that was already in my lungs, skin, eyes and joints with the possibility of it spreading to my heart and brain. The pain was so bad I would cry every morning when I woke up and tried to walk. After months of aggressive treatment they were able to get some of the swelling down, but it never goes away completely. Some people go into remission, but I have the symptoms that typically mean it's chronic and I'm in for the long haul. 

I dove into my writing after my diagnosis. I poured my heart and soul into my notebooks, lived in my imagination and tried not to get too down and depressed about what I was facing. Learning my limitations is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Coming to terms with who I am now as opposed to who I was isn't easy. Writing has been my outlet, my therapy and my saving grace. I have chronic fatigue and brain fog that never goes away, but writing is something I can do curled up on my couch with my laptop in front of me (as I'm doing now). Not to mention I can live vicariously through my characters. I write because I have to. I write because if I didn't I would be in a much worse mental state. I write because I have a story to tell. I write because it keeps me thinking positive. I write because I love it.

Why do you write?


  1. :( Courtney, I'm sorry to hear about your condition, but I am so, so proud of you for writing through it! You're an inspiration.

    I don't know if you know about them, but two fantastic writers, Laura Hillenbrand (adult nonfic) and Robin McKinley (YA fantasy - AMAAAZING), suffer from a fatigue syndrom. Laura wrote about her experiences with it here, and how she succeeded at writing in spite of it:

    I find them incredibly inspirational as well.

    Anyway, to answer your question... I write for much the same reasons, minus the condition. (In fact, writing is CAUSING me pain, nowadays. Wrists and back, mainly.) I write because I love to read, and I want to give that love back out to the world. Sappy but true.


  2. Hey Kristan! Thank you for sharing why you write =) It's not sappy at all, it's what makes you a writer. I know how it is with the carpal tunnel and back pain! The things we do for our love of words.

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I started writing long before the disease, but since the disease I've found myself writing more. It's the one thing I can do while sitting on my couch or when I'm feeling icky. Writing is one thing this disease cannot take away from me.

    Thank you for the link! I am about to read the post now =)

  3. New follower here!

    I've not heard of your condition--I can't imagine. But kudos on not giving up your writing, and diving into it deeper instead!

    I write because my brain is completely overactive, bursting with stories and characters that need to get out! It seriously keeps me awake at night. :)

  4. Hi, Courtney. I'm coming by from YALitChat. It's nice to meet you. I'm so sorry about your condition, but I really love your attitude. I completely agree that writers write because we have to. It's part of who we are. I'm following you now, and I look forward to coming back often.

  5. Thank you, Kelly! I just checked out your blog and can't wait to chat more on here and YALitChat. I appreciate your encouraging words; some days my attitude is better than others. So nice to meet you!

  6. Hi, Courtney. I'm also dropping by from YALitChat. Your story is so inspiring. It makes me wonder how I can ever justify procrastinating (as I'm doing now). Good luck to you on your writing journey. I'm looking forward to reading along.

  7. You are kind, Jessie. And procrastination happens to all of us =) Good luck to you on your writing journey! I am reading Oasis for YA right now. So much knowledge on all of these awesome blogs. They are a fabulous resource. I look forward to chatting with you on here as well as on YALitChat!

  8. I from YALIT CHAt and im a new follower...learning limitations is so hard, i know. I have an immune diffiency, but not quite as severe. Though I have some other probs too so limitations has always been part of my life, but I know it would be harder to just wake up and have to deal w/ it one day. You found a great way to get through it, so congrats and good luck with your writing.

  9. Wow, Courtney, what a story! Inspiring. I write because I'm obsessed with it. I'm following you now. If you want to take a peek at my blog to see who I am, that'd be cool. I'm at
    Cheers, Catherine

  10. Beth: You are so right about how hard it is to learn your limitations; I'm at a year and a half since my diagnosis and I am still not used to it. Good luck on your writing as well. If you ever need to chat about health issues, feel free to contact me on here or YALitChat!

    Catherine: Thank you! And what a fabulous reason to write =) It's so nice to be obsessed with something that really gets you thinking. I checked out your blog and I'm a follower on there as well =)

  11. Hey Courtney! Nice to meet you.. I hopped over from YALitChat. You have a very good reason to be writing. It's kind of that way for me too... thruout my entire life, writing as been my number one companion. It's just who I am.
    I wish I could read like you do. You're a machine!lol
    Wishing you luck with your condition. Sounds painful, but you're a trooper! Happy reading!

  12. Hi Courtney. I'm also from YaLitChat and really pleased to meet you. Your story is very encouraging and glad you shared it. I hope in the future research will find a way to alleviate all those symptoms and maybe even cure their cause.

    My reason for writing is just that I love to do it. Nothing very dramatic, just true.

  13. Pk Hrezo: Nice to meet you as well! I look forward to talking to you on here and YALitChat (and on your blog). Writing is something that can never let you down =) It's so nice to live in a fantasy world! And Happy reading to you, too!

    Cleemckenzie: Hiya! I am pleased to meet you, too! Thank you for the kind words; I, too, am hoping for a cure. Some days just plain suck, so I just live for the good ones. And your reason for writing is perfectly awesome; you have to have love for it to do it. And you can save the drama for your characters ;)

  14. Thanks, Courtney for saying my reason is awesome.

    Also thanks for stopping in at the Write Game to say hi! See you again in many places.

  15. Hi Courtney, I came over from YALITCHAT too. You sound like a brave young woman, an inspiration to others facing similar situations. Hugs.

  16. Thank you, Beverly! I really appreciate the encouragement. It's been a tough journey, but writing has really been a great therapy for me. I can't wait to get to know you more through YALitChat and our blogs!