Wednesday, January 12, 2011


by Margaret Birth

I was a young wife of twenty-six when it began. At first I thought I’d strained a muscle, but when the pain didn’t resolve itself, I began to worry. The flesh around my joints started to swell, and the pain that I’d once imagined as a strain in one muscle began to travel to different muscles, and to feel far worse than a simple strain. There were times I could sit stationary and watch my muscles twitch, in a spasm. There were other times I could barely walk, or hold a pen, because the pain was so severe and I felt so stiff.

For five years, I traveled from doctor to doctor, and allowed test after test in the hope that I could receive a definitive diagnosis. The good news—I had fibromyalgia, which was not disfiguring or deadly. The bad news—I was going to have it for the rest of my life.

Through all that, one of the things I have needed to do was to develop an attitude of mind-over-matter (as I’ve heard others express it, “If I don’t mind about it, then it doesn’t matter”); this has required my developing a new way of thinking about how I do what I want to do in life—including my writing.

There are lots of people out there who casually remark, “You know, I’d really like to write a book someday,” or, “Yeah, I thought maybe the next time I had a week off I’d write a romance novel, send it off, and make some extra money.” Uh-huh, I’ll bet you’ve heard them too. But those of us who do desire to be full-time writers because we love writing tend to be driven folks—self-motivated, high-achieving types. That’s me.

Even as I sit here, seventeen years after finally receiving my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I’m not only drafting this blog entry, but I’m also simultaneously drafting two mystery novels (one a sequel to a mystery novel that I’ve already submitted for publication), editing one of my older romance novels to hopefully submit to another publisher, submitting old short stories and poems for publication while I continue to write new ones and submit those too, and proofreading another author’s manuscript for a publisher for which I freelance. Like the people who’d “really like to write a book someday,” I still haven’t achieved my goal of publishing a novel; but I have the drive—I’ve written the poems, the short stories, the articles, and even the comic books and the novels—and I’m still writing.

I figure, whether we battle physical pain and ills, or procrastination, or busy family and work schedules, most of us freelance writers could easily find at least one or two excellent excuses for not sitting down to write. Pursuing a writing career while suffering from fibromyalgia has taught me an important lesson, though: whether I hurt, or feel tired, or feel stressed, I can never be truly happy if I let any of those excuses stop me from doing what I want to do—because in my heart and in my soul, I am a writer…and writers write.♥

Margaret Birth is a Christian writer who has been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry, both in the U.S. and abroad; in addition to working as a freelance writer, she's spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor.


  1. I know what you're dealing with. There are few lessons I learned first is that we can deal with anything and the second is we're not going to stop. Both lessons surely help when you deal with writing, critiques, and rejection.

  2. Kudos to you for continuing to work toward your goals, Margaret. Many people would use theil illness as reason to stop reaching for their dreams. It's marvelous to hear from someone who didn't. Best of luck on all your submissions!!