Throwing a sickie

And breathe…!  Or not.

Well, I’ve been having some difficulty doing this over the past fortnight. I flew home from the highly energising Dublin Writers’ Conference with a raging sore throat and feeling like a superannuated wet dishcloth. The tiredness could have been due to the conference (it was fairly intense), but the sore throat was no doubt due to a cold picked up there. But I’d be over it in a couple of days, wouldn’t I?

I had a load of projects in front of me, all neatly scheduled: the next conference talk, editing my Roma Nova short stories for a collection due out later in the summer, my monthly writing column for the local English language magazine, preparing a new box set of the second Roma Nova trilogy, running a couple of joint promotions with colleagues, running my own promotion for INSURRECTIO, preparing to pitch a new series to publishers, writing the June newsletter for my faithful followers, etc.

That all went completely out of the window as I raged with a temperature, overwhelming exhaustion, coughing fits from the depths of Tartarus and sneezing like a plague victim. I lost a kilo and a half in weight in three days. Oh, and did I mention the heatwave of 34C for the whole of the first week?

Now, I’m not looking for sympathy. Really. My overwhelming feeling was one of impotent anger, fuelled by the frustration of only being able to manage to totter to the bathroom and the urge of my body to pull me into sleep the whole time.

Writers have to work hard these days, not just writing: they run small businesses, market, promote, interact with other readers (a true pleasure!) and with other writers, they arrange talks, events, contribute to anthologies, write blogs and short stories as well as office admin and record keeping. We seem to think we have to be superhuman and for the most part we are – juggling and 60 hour weeks a speciality.


Then the germs strike…

Now, I can usually keep going on some level in the face of the sniffles, but this virus was a horror, one level down from flu. My favourite sweetie became a Strepsil, my best drink a Lemsip. You’ll realise how grim it was when I report that I went right off chocolate and my daily glass of red wine.

But I learned valuable lessons and ones that all writers can embrace:

  • Germs will always do their thing – resistance is futile
  • Accepting an illness will make you less angry and help you recover faster
  • You can catch up on your reading
  • When you start to recover, you can reschedule your work and at least do some small things which will lift your morale, but don’t rush in too quickly
  • If you relapse, go back to bed and don’t feel guilty
  • Grab any help that’s around

We have to give ourselves a break. If we were employed, we’d phone in sick, especially if we’re contagious. I’ve been able to catch up on 75% of my work by today lunchtime which I don’t think is too bad. I hope by working over the weekend, I’ll get to 95%. As self-employed writers, we have resilience and a strong work ethic, but we are human…


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, will be out on 12 September 2019.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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