by February Grace
Editor’s note: I met February Grace through Twitter and she’s just lovely. This month she created a new Twitter chat group called #writersRX. They meet every Monday at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) and it’s specifically for writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. I attended it last week and it was great. You can find it on Twitter by searching for #writersRX, then clicking the Latest tab so you can see and participate in the discussion. Don’t forget to include #writersRX at the end of your tweets so people can see and respond to you!
When I was asked to write this blog telling a little bit about me and why I decided to start the #writersRX Twitter chat, I wondered: What could I write about myself that wouldn’t be as dry as a medical textbook? What can I say about what the #writersRX chat means to me without sounding ridiculously sappy?
Well my friends, please read along and see what I came up with, because I am winging this.
Greetings! I’m February Grace (my friends call me bru) and I’m in my middle-late-ish forties. I learned to read very early, and have been writing ever since I could hold a crayon. I was telling stories aloud before I could do that. Books were a huge part of my childhood, as was the local library.
My grandmother taught me to read and my mother followed up by reading to me frequently at bedtime during my early years. That set me up to be a writer; I was always wondering what came next after the story ended.
When a kind and wonderful fourth-grade teacher set me up with the projector at the library and tasked me with rewriting the ends of fairytales, I really felt the power of being part of the story. You could imagine things your own way and your ideas could become the story! How cool is that?
Sadly, along with memories of books, most of my early childhood memories are of being in pain. This is due, we know now, to a genetic connective tissue disease. The collagen in my body is . . . well, basically I’m coming unglued.
This has done terrible things to my spine and joints and also caused me to lose my eyesight (six surgeries over two years gave me some of that sight back, but it is limited. Long story there).
I have a laundry list of other conditions and med allergies (so many that they barely fit on both sides of an 8 ½” x 11″ sheet of paper at a 10 pt font. The font keeps getting smaller). I’ll spare you the boring details. Suffice it to say I am lucky to be alive, and I am stuck at home most of the time due to my ill health.
Throw Bipolar 1, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into the mix, and I’ve got quite a combination of daily challenges. Some days, I can’t even make it out of bed in a day. Between chronic pain and the mental health issues, sometimes it’s all just too much. But you do what you can when you can.
Now let me skip to another topic—Twitter. I love Twitter. Of all the social media sites out there, Twitter is home for me. I’ve met people there who have changed my life, literally (I was published because of people I met on Twitter, no lie. But that’s another blog).
I spend as much time on Twitter as my impaired eyesight allows, really. I’ve become a regular at two amazing chats I adore (#writestuff and #storydam) and it was at a #writestuff chat that the concept of #writersRX chat came into being.
Our host asked us for ideas for possible future topics for the chat, and I suggested something like “writing while chronically ill.” Someone (forgive me, I forget who) replied that could be a chat all on its own. I thought about it . . . and realized it really could.
I’ve seen lots of chats for people with chronic illnesses, but had yet to come across one specifically for writers to show each other support while dealing with illnesses of any kind.
My idea was not for somewhere people could go and say “poor me” or heaven forbid, seek medical advice. The few rules I have for the chat are as follows:
- No spamming.
- Do not seek/offer medical advice.
- Please be kind.
No, instead my idea was for a place where, for just an hour a week, writers could go and share their experiences and support each other, whether it was to talk about trying to find comfortable places to write (Who knew so many folks write in bed?) or sharing what kind of text-to-voice programs they prefer to use.
We had our very first chat last night, and I was overwhelmed by the reception! Friends from other chats showed up, and they brought other friends along with them, and before I knew it the hour had zoomed by. The best part? It was a really positive experience, and people found it comforting as well. As one chat guest put it, it felt good to talk to others who understand the frustrations we face. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s about understanding, encouragement, and community.
We’re still in very early days as far as the chat becoming established, but I was thrilled to see it get off to such a great start. It’s my hope that, as your host, I will continue to offer a comfortable, welcoming space on the web for people to come and share what they feel comfortable sharing (no pressure) and even have a laugh or two while supporting each other’s writing endeavors.
Does that sound good to you?
If so, then please consider this your invitation to join us Mondays at 7 p.m. eastern time (we’re on daylight savings time now, so please take that into account if you’re in a different time zone). If you can’t make it then, feel free to use the hashtag #writersRX to catch up on the chat later! I’ll respond to as many tweets as I am able.
It is my hope that encouragement, smiles, and positive experiences will continue to be the result of this brand new chat. Even though sometimes we might cry together, too, just because we are relieved to finally be among those who really understand what it’s like to be us; those trying to sling ink onto the page while battling our bodies and minds day by day.
I really think we’re much stronger together than we could be on our own.
February Grace is from Michigan, where she lives with her husband and fourteen year old cat. She is obsessed with words, music, art, Disney, and still wants to be a Jedi Knight when she grows up. She may or may not be a Fairy Godmother. Her five (previously published) novels and a novella can all be found on Wattpad. Her poetry and prose can also be found on her blog. She would love to meet you on Twitter @februarygrace!