I've been writing here very little of late, and I feel I owe an explanation to those of you who have kindly clicked and read and kept me writing during the past couple of years.
The one thing I have been reluctant to write about is the principal fact in my life--that I have, and have had for two decades, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Why write about something that I am, literally and figuratively, sick of?
One reason for my reluctance is that I find the few books that have been written about CFS very difficult to read. Some are medical in orientation and, because there is no cure for the disease, necessarily depressing. Others vent a mostly justified anger at the medical and political establishment's mismanagement of an illness that affects an estimated one million people in the U.S. alone. And others are self-help texts advising one to curtail one's ambitions, avoid physical or mental exertion, and try to live in the moment.
I thought that there might be room for a different kind of book--a non-medical, non-didactic account of one person's experience of the illness that would not be devoid of humor and in which other sufferers might find themselves reflected and perhaps consoled. And because CFS encapsulates many of the conditions--loss of energy, loss of power, isolation--with which everyone sooner or later must come to terms, I believe that such a book might find application beyond the CFS community.
So I've been writing this thing, and it's not been easy. For one thing, most people who sit down to write their memoirs plan to tell about things that happened to them, or that they made happen--how they crossed the Atlantic in a raft, climbed the Himalayas, raised quintuplets. In my case, I'm writing about an event that caused things to stop happening to me, and caused me to stop making anything happen. I have lots of stories to tell about my life before CFS--but after CFS, not many. And because of the mental fog that accompanies the disease, my memories of those nothing-happening years are few and far between.
Why then write about this at all? Because, although I would never have chosen it, it is my adventure, my crossing of the Atlantic in a raft, my climb of the Himalayas.
I hope the story will not be too dour or dolorous. There will be plenty of dogs and goats and chickens and gardening mishaps to lighten things along the way. We'll see--I am yet at what is known in the trade as the "shitty first draft."
Meanwhile, I don't intend to abandon this blog, and I hope that you will not abandon me. In the coming months I will be adding, to my stories of dog training and Vermont living, bits about my writerly struggles, defeats, and resurrections. Wish me luck.