Jane Godman: It’s All In My Head – Writing As Therapy
26 February 2018
Today we welcome Jane Godman to the blog, talking about writing with a life-altering condition. Jane is a multi-published author living with a brain tumour. Here she talks about this and we also discuss her upcoming novels for 2018…
In February 2015 I was on a high, having signed a contract with Harlequin Mills and Boon for three books in their Nocturne (paranormal) line. I’d also just found out I was going to be a grandmother for the first time. Apart from the excruciating migraines I was suffering, it felt like 2015 might be my year.
A few weeks later, I was sitting in a neuro-surgeon’s office trying to take in the news that I had a brain tumour.
Alongside the fear and uncertainty I was feeling at that time, I clung to my writing. I was determined to finish the first book in my contract on time. I did.
I still think of Otherworld Protector, my first Harlequin Nocturne, as the book of my heart. It’s dedicated to those of us with brain tumours and to everyone who cares for us.
I’m lucky. My tumour is low grade and slow growing. Don’t get me wrong. Our relationship is not a cosy one. I haven’t given it a cute name and I don’t want it inside my head, but I’ve learned how to live with it.
Since my brain tumour diagnosis, I’ve published fifteen books with Harlequin/Mills and Boon and SMP Romance, with more in the pipeline. I also self-publish.
I tell people my story to give them the message that, no matter what life throws your way, you should go for your goals. Climb the mountain, run the marathon, paint the picture…write the book.
Writing is my therapy. But I am chronically ill, and my output is affected by what is going on inside my unpredictable head. I have pain, vertigo, tinnitus, and a range of other issues that you really don’t want to know about.
This post is too short to be a self-help manual, but my New Year’s resolution for 2018 was to raise awareness of how life can get in the way of art and provide some insights into the ways I’ve made it work. With that in mind, I’ve been tweeting under the #livewell hashtag (Twitter is always the best place to connect with me: @JaneGodman).
While it’s true that the creative spark doesn’t die out when you have a life-altering condition, you do have to find ways to nurture it. I don’t have all the answers, but these are some of the things that have helped me:
- Have a routine
Then forgive yourself if (when) you can’t stick to it. Be kind to yourself. That should be your motto even if you are 100% healthy.
- Be flexible about your goals
When I first started writing full-time, I’d see those “1k in the next hour” sprinters on Twitter and feel like a failure because I will never achieve that. I might write a thousand words in a day. Two thousand on a good day. Or I might not write anything. We are all different.
- Don’t be afraid to tell people if you have an invisible condition
I suffer from chronic illness. Many of you reading this will also be battling your own significant impairment. If it’s not obvious, people won’t know what we’re going through…unless we tell them.
- Your health comes first
One of the best posts on this is “The Spoon Theory” by Christine Miserandino. www.butyoudontlooksick.com
- Do it your way
Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t listen to people who tell you how to do it. In the words of the incomparable Nora Roberts, “Anyone who tells you there’s a right way to write is a lying bitch.”
- Build up your support network
Family, friends, online or face-to-face support groups. Find them, use them, talk to them. Let off steam with them. Tell them how unfair it is that you have to live like this. Then get back to living.
- Reward yourself for your successes
My rewards can range from a hot bubble bath to a meal at my favourite restaurant or a beach holiday! You got out of bed, you met that deadline, you got another book deal. You deserve a reward!
I have one simple thing I keep in mind when it comes to self-care. When you travel on a plane, the air crew will tell you that, in the event you might need oxygen, you must put your own mask on before you help others. Even though the reasons are different, the underlying message applies to life as well as to a plane journey: If you don’t look after yourself first, you may not be able to look after anyone else.
Love, Jane x
Thank you Jane for such a positive article which I think all of us writers can take something away from. I definitely need to pay more attention to number five!
Jane has five releases out this year; two romantic suspense stories with Harlequin Romantic Suspense/Mills and Boon Heroes and three paranormal titles with Harlequin Nocturne/Mills and Boon Paranormal. Her April 2018 release, Colton and the Single Mum is a Romantic Suspense and will be available on Amazon.
Colton and the Single Mum is Book Four in the Harlequin/Mills and Boon Coltons of Red Ridge series.
In this series, someone is killing bridegrooms just as they are planning their wedding. Couples are scared to be seen out in public. Wedding planners are going out of business, caterers are closing their doors…
This Colton cop falls for a ready-made family.
A serial killer is on the loose, and true-crime filmmaker Esmée da Costa is on the case. K-9 cop Brayden Colton, the prime suspect’s half brother, works hard to stop her prying, but sparks fly as he falls for Esmée and her son. When Esmée and Brayden’s little family comes under siege, can they save all they love?
Jane Godman writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and SMP Romance and thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. She also self-publishes her historical and gothic stories. She has been a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Nominee and a Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Award Winner.
She was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. Jane still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history.
When she isn’t reading or writing romance, Jane enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She is married to a lovely man, has two grown-up children and has recently discovered the joy of becoming a grandparent.