Thursday, January 25, 2018

Today I'm World Building my Life

In writing, we talk about "world building." It's when you create landscapes, religions,  languages, and a completely unique culture where your characters live out their adventures. C.S. Lewis built Narnia, Tolkien built Middle-Earth, and we build with our own imaginations.

Two notable things happened to me in the past week. The first is that I started doing core workouts. I started because I realized it wasn't my body that was keeping me from exercising anymore, it was my fear of failure.

I was so paralyzed by my mind screaming, "what if I can't?" that refused to acknowledge the opposite idea: "what if I can?"

I finally tried.

And I can.

The second thing is that I started taking action on my books. Two books have been on my mind recently: one that I'm writing and one that I'm editing.

I keep starting over with the book I'm editing. I haven't made a lot of notes, or changed a lot of sentences, and every time I get to the third chapter, I shut down and start the book over.

When I realized how much fear was paralyzing me with physical workouts, I started to wonder if it might also be paralyzing my writing the same way.

I'm afraid that I won't be able to finish. I think that I'll be overwhelmed by sickness, brain fog, and emotions all at once, and I'll quit. I'll sink into this huge puddle of wordlessness, of emptiness, of charcoaled creativity and feel so defeated by the thing I love the most that I'll never come back to it. I'm scared of chapter three and beyond because I know those are the chapters that need the most work.


I know that writing is possible for me.

I know who I am, what I can create, and how fast I can create it.

What's holding me back?

The fear of failing.

I know that Lyme Disease can't really change a person's DNA, but sometimes it feels like it can. Someone once told me that chronic illness causes people to have to go through the stages of loss over and over again, because they lose so much of life. I have lost jobs, homes, sports, writing, friends, and college to Lyme. I know others who have lost so much more.

As I gain some losses back, part of me wants to dive completely in with no thought to the past. You know, continue with my life where I left off and forget it ever happened. You can't really do that, though. For instance, I can't start on the same physical core training level that I left off at and still succeed today. I have to build from the ground up. I have to recognize that I have limitations and I have to stay within healthy boundaries for a while.

If I don't recognize boundaries, then I will fail. And that's why I was so afraid, I think.

Recovering from chronic illness is kind of like world building. I got sick almost seven years ago, and a lot has changed between then and now. I'm the same person, but I'm not the same person, and I've been doing a lot of rediscovery. I've been choosing new priorities, but still chasing old dreams. I'm creating new landscapes, relearning my religion, and I'm figuring out new terminology that doesn't include things like "chronic patient" and "I can't."

It takes a lot of time to "world build" a new story. It's okay if it's a process to world build a new life, too.

I'm just glad to have the change to try.



  1. Oh wow, I just got inspiration for a post when I read this!

    This is a great insight to what it's like living with an illness! I never thought of it as world building, but that's definitely what it's like at times. The daily grind. The wondering if it's even possible. The starting from scratch. Yep, that's world building. But hey! at least we know that it can turn out to be the beautiful stage for an entire story!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Yay inspiration! YESS! I love how you said it could turn into a story. :) I also love that looking at it like world building makes it more of an adventure.

      I'm curious to know if you also have chronic illness? I'd love to chat sometime. Some friends and I are working on a project for people with chronic illness and I would love to include you! <3

  2. Sending so many hugs, sweet friend <3 I believe in you!

    1. You are absolutely the sweetest. Thank you for believing. <3 I have loved getting to know you, Caitlin! Thank you for commenting :)