Lucy Robinson writes of her battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and how it helped reignite her passion for writing.
I’m writing this in the run-up to my US/Canadian launch for A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger, and I’m thinking about the disaster that befell me shortly after I launched the same book in the UK last year. I remember the evening well – I had my hair blowdried by a mad Brazilian man who was wearing a skirt, I went mad with the red lipstick and I pushed myself into a little black dress and red high heels. I was on FIRE! My launch party was crammed and when I did a (spectacularly bad) reading from my book, my guests clapped and cheered as if Shakespeare himself had popped in to read a passage from Hamlet. Fantastic reviews came tumbling in and I was on top of the world.
And then it happened. I woke up one morning and discovered that I could barely move. What followed was six months of hell. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an illness that is still very poorly understood and for which there is no medical treatment. Some people never recover. In the most severe cases, sufferers cannot move at all, not even to eat food, and require 24-hour care. Luckily, I was nowhere near that bad, but I was nonetheless pretty dreadful.
I won’t dwell too much on the illness itself, because there’s very little to say, beyond the fact that it was awful. What I want to write about today was the fact that I have recovered completely, due to a wonderful treatment that someone had recommended to me, and that my life as a writer has been completely transformed. (My life in general has been completely transformed … But it’s probably beyond the scope of this little piece to go there!)
So, the writing. I’ll be honest – in spite of producing books that apparently made people laugh out loud, I’d lost all joy and enthusiasm for them. For writing in general, actually, which was pretty bad at this stage in my career. I’d run out of jokes, I’d stopped caring about my characters and I dreaded sitting down at my computer each day. I remember spending a day working in the British library with some writer friends and completely destroying our lunch by bursting into tears and saying I hated being a writer! In hindsight, I can see that that was the Chronic Fatigue beginning to creep in and spoil my life, but back then I was really concerned. How could an author of romantic comedy possibly write books when she’d lost her sense of humour and started to hate her job?
In a way, I’m glad I got ill, because the process of recovery helped me rediscover my love of writing. Of creating a romantic lead on whom I’ve got a MASSIVE great thumping crush, of writing a scene that makes me roar with laughter, of working with my publishers to create a brilliant book jacket. It’s only a few months since I recovered but already I’ve noticed how much less I mind average reviews, and how much less I compare my own success to that of my contemporaries. I’ve realised that I am incredibly lucky to have a job like this, that pays me to sit around writing stories that people read until two in the morning. A job that’s allowed me to work and travel, to meet a whole wonderful community of online readers and reviewers, and to carry out all sorts of weird and wonderful research.
Had someone told me, when I was flat on my back, staring at the ceiling with tears running down my cheeks, that I’d not only be able to write again but to do so with such joy, I’d probably have punched them. And muttered something about never being able to write again. But I did recover, and I’m so proud and excited to be releasing my second novel on the unsuspecting folk of North America. Hurrah for writing! Hurrah for health! Hurrah for life!
Charley Lambert has worked hard at creating a perfect life. She has an aspirational flat, a job of international significance and a very good pair of legs.
Then she breaks her leg in three places, watches her boss propose to someone else and – horror – is forced to hand over her job to her nasty deputy. Charley, a certified workaholic, fears that she will go mad, thanks to a rigorous health and fitness regime. Best of all, her boss has asked her out after seven years hard flirting and a covert fumble in a mop cupboard.
Dangerously bored, she starts helping people who are talentless at internet dating. Then William arrives in her inbox and rocks her world. Helpless, she watches herself fall in love with this unknown man and discovers she’s not who she thought she was.
But can she turn her back on her old life – all for a total stranger?
Prior to writing Lucy Robinson earned her crust in theatre production and then factual television, working on documentaries for all of the UK’s major broadcasters. Her writing career began when she started a dating blog for Marie Claire about her fairly pathetic attempts at internet dating. Lucy was brought up in Gloucestershire surrounded by various stupid animals. She studied at Birmingham University and lived in London for many years before disappearing off to South America to write her first two novels. She now lives in Bristol with her partner, The Man. She likes dogs and cheese and horses and seals and cake and baths and she blogs daily about funny things that have made her smile today.