Most people don’t know it took me almost three years to write Lust and Lemonade.
I started it on December 29, 2013 and finished the first draft on the May 23, 2015. Writing Lust and Lemonade was a labour of love, yes, but it was also one of self-discovery and healing.
When I was diagnosed in 2013 with Multiple Sclerosis, I still wanted to write; I needed to write. Words are like breathing to me. I was diagnosed in January that year and trying to find my way to words again was like going on a journey. The words had broken themselves up into letters and I had to walk along the ground collecting the letters and seeing what I could make with them.
I was desperate to write, but unable to write as much as I had before the MS. The words were in my head but I couldn’t get them through my fingers, as my fingertips always pressed the wrong keys. So, I started with a few words at a time and would stitch them together into poems.
After a while though, I wanted to do something more. I wanted to write a novel. I have written tons of books and a lot of those are romance novels, but I didn’t feel like trying my hand at one of those, not feeling particularly in the mood for romance at the time.
It was after Christmas when, tired of writing yet another poem, I looked through my files to see if there was anything unfinished that would tickle my fancy. Like every great writer, I have tons of unfinished writing: novels, plays, short stories, and poems. I always keep them instead of throwing them out. You never know when you’ll click with that idea and want to see it through.
I stumbled upon a document I had just called Boyfriends. I had started it back when I was married to my ex-husband in 2005. It was just two chapters, but I read them again all the way through and I immediately wanted to know more about these characters: Blaine, Nancy, Chuck, Mike, and Poppy. I had been hooked by my own writing.
I left it alone for a little bit, letting the novel and the story take shape in my head. It had been so long since I had written a novel or anything of length, I wondered at my ability to write it. I wondered if it would be any good, if I was still a writer, or whether or not my muses had left me. I had written plenty of poems, but a novel? And though I had left notes about the plot and a 10, 000-word goal in the original document, I knew that Boyfriends would be novel sized and so much bigger than a novella. Did I have it in me to commit to that kind of length? Could I even write it?
I decided to go for it, as nothing ventured was nothing gained. I knew that it would be difficult forcing my hands to shape those letters that littered the ground like stones into words, and dialogue would be hard, perhaps the most difficult thing I had ever attempted. But my inner muse demanded that I try, and if it sucked in the end, at least I was writing.
Continuing on from where I had left off, I delved into the third chapter. That took me a week to write. The fourth chapter took another week. However, I noticed that each successive chapter took less and less time. The fifth chapter took six days, the sixth chapter took four and a half. Little by little, as the story of Blaine and friends formed on the page, I was getting better.
I noticed something else too: when I was writing Boyfriends and losing myself in the story of the characters, I didn’t feel any pain. There were no spasms from the Cerebral Palsy I was born with—or the Multiple Sclerosis. My symptoms lessened, too. My vision improved, the tremors also lessened. I felt like I was alive again, albeit just on the page.
Yes, the novel took almost three years to write, but every step, every word, every page was worth it. As I wrote, I remembered the joy I used to have from writing. It wasn’t a constant battle to get the words down before they disappeared. The words flowed out of me, slowly at first, but then in a flood.
Though I say it took almost three years to write, it really was a ten-year journey. From idea to the last word of the first draft, it was ten years. Let me tell you, having those characters in my head for ten years was a blessing and a curse. I am so glad that the novel, renamed Lust and Lemonade, is out now.
It is the book that I love the most perhaps because of the work and the healing that went into it. And better yet? There are more books in the Lemonade series to come! It seems my characters had more to say then even I had imagined.
Jamieson is an award-winning, number one bestselling author of over sixty books and writer of Two Steps at a Time, a blog about having Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy. His latest novel, Lust and Lemonade, has just been released!
He is an accomplished artist who works in mixed media, charcoal, pastels, and oil paints. He is also something of an amateur photographer, a poet, a perfume designer, and a graphic designer.
Jamison currently lives in Ottawa Ontario Canada with his husband Michael and his cat Tula, who is fearless.