It’s a banner day, my faithful readers. For all the years that I have been writing this column, I have intermittently spoken about a phantom “book” that I was writing. The book, an autobiography, tells the story of how I have lived my life with Rheumatoid Arthritis, 25 years in the making. Those of you who have been faithfully following my column have heard the story of “the book” in bits and pieces, but to celebrate finally finishing my magnum opus, I figured I’d post a sort of retrospective of my time here at CJ, and tell the story of the inception of my book, from beginning to end.
Many times before, people have asked how long I have written for Creaky Joints. My answer usually was something like “oh two years or so,” mainly because I never really checked the exact date I began my career here at CJ. Because this is such a momentous occasion, though, I finally did check the exact date I began to contribute to this fine website, and it turns out, as best as I can determine, that I have been writing here since the end of 2009. Let’s call it December.
So, for just about two and a half years, I have been putting my thoughts to paper at CreakyJoints. I thought this would be for the good of the readers, but little did I know that the column would end up helping me just as much as it has been helping those of you who follow it each and every week. I mean, it was easy to tell I was helping others because of the fantastic, touching, wonderful, e-mails that I got from many of you. Even the shortest, least touching e-mail I have ever gotten was more important to me than most every other communication I have ever received. To know that I have helped some of you cope with the physical pain and mental strife that comes along with autoimmune disease is a gift that I could never, ever, match. Thank you, sincerely, to all of you who not only read my writing, but to those of you who take the time to drop me a line or write a comment that lets me know how my words affected you.
To that end, I can truly say that without this column and those of you who have become my fans (for lack of a better word), my book would not have come to fruition. You see, a little over three years ago, as many of you know, my disease was running rampant. Unchecked, the Rheumatoid Arthritis was going haywire, and the bloating and other side effects I was experiencing from over 40mg of prednisone a day was making life virtually unlivable. There were several times I wanted to lay down to sleep and never wake up, and after a particularly bad spell, I sat down and my computer and let all of my angst flow into MS Word. At the end of that three-hour-marathon writing session, I had composed over ten pages. Not realizing what I had, I printed out the pages for filing in my “R.A. scrapbook,” and left my desk.
Months later, I had a visitor at my house, and she picked up the pages that were still sitting out, waiting to be filed. While I was engaged in making dinner, she read the pages from beginning to end. When I returned to my study where she was sitting, she instantly went on and on about how the writing was fantastic, and how I absolutely had to turn my thoughts into a book. “Writing?” I said to her. “I hated English in school, and always avoided it like the plague.” I thought that was that.
All that next week, I felt a distinct pull towards the computer, and a dire need to put more thoughts to paper. I finally gave in, and after I had written ten more pages, I realized that a book was inside of me and was going to come out one way or another. So, during the summer of 2009, I spent most of my days adding chapters to the book, and finished about half by the time school started once again. I told most people I knew that I was writing a book, and most thought it was a fantastic idea. In addition, when these people read the actual pages I had finished, there was no doubt about the fact that I had a winner on my hands. So, I resigned myself to finish the book by the end of that year and get it published.
Around Thanksgiving of 2009, I made a trip to my doctor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. While, there, I met with an old friend who also happened to be the head nurse in charge of the infusion room. This was where drugs like Remicade and Rituxan were administered via IV in outpatient style. I told this person that I was writing a book, and she not only showed me some of the books she had written, but told me about Seth and the wonderful website called CreakyJoints. It took a while from that day, but long story short – I impressed them here at CJ enough with my writing that they actually allowed me to pour my insane ramblings out in a bi-weekly column. Either that, or they were scared I’d submit my freak show elsewhere and CJ would miss out, who knows.
So, I began writing the column for CJ, and as often happens, life got busy, my disease got worse, and my book project hit the back burner. It was all I could do some weeks just to get the CJ column turned in on time. Writing a book took hours of uninterrupted concentration, which I just couldn’t muster. It went on this way until the end of 2011, actually, when I finally promised myself that for 2012, I’d get the damn book finished and begin helping those R.A. patients out there who still think no one else knows what they have to live with.
So here it is, May 2012, and the book is now officially finished. The best part is that I can say, without question, that if it wasn’t for the support, friendship, and e-mails that I get from all of you, my readers, and the staff here at CJ, I would never have thought my book was worth finishing. Fortunately, you have all been so good to me. You have taught me that I am actually helping some of you, and for me, that’s the single best feeling that I have ever experienced and probably ever will.
Of course, a new quest begins now that the book is finished. I have to decide whether or not to try to find a literary agent and a publisher, or decide if I should self publish. If I do go the agent route, it could be years before anyone even agrees to read my material, much less accepts me as a client, and then finds me a publishing house. I may not want to wait that long. Either way though, the book will be out soon, and I want all of you to read it and hopefully take from it the same comfort that many of you take from my column. The folks here at Creaky Joints will certainly make sure all of their readers know about it when it is finally released, so don’t worry about missing it.
So, all I can say now is thanks again, and keep and eye out for “So Young – A life Lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis.” It’s coming soon, I promise. It will make you laugh, make you cry, give you a better understanding of a sick child’s innermost thoughts, and maybe even make you a bit hungry. Also, before any of you ask, never fear – Dan’s Du journal will still visit with you twice a month to deal with those issues that no one else seems to talk about.
My sincerest well wishes and gratitude go out to those who have read my column in the past, read my column now, and those unknown among you who have not yet read my column. I value all of you more than you will ever know — you are the coal that fuels the fire that powers my hands and my head.