I’ve written what I am calling a ‘verse memoir’ detailing aspects of my life with multiple sclerosis (MS). The memoir is more or less finished, and will be printed and ready by the end of August. When I was diagnosed with MS, I looked for an easy to read book telling what it was like to be living with MS. I couldn’t find such a book.
That’s when I decided to write the book myself, and just to make it even more interesting (or so I hope) I decided to write the memoir in verse. This was even though writing a verse narrative was alien to me to a large extent, and I wasn’t really sure what the writing of one entailed.
I’m a writer, writing mostly poetry, but short stories too. I’ve had my work published, and I’ve also self-published my work. I also have some longer works, novels, written, but they may never see the world – they’re a long way away from being publishable! There’s still time …
This memoir though, this is the work that’s had most of my attention for the past two or so years. I’ve written some relevant poems, which are in the memoir, and I’ve worked on writing the verse. I had assistance with writing in verse. I received a grant from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust to pay for a mentor.
This mentor has been Ray Tyndale. I’ve enjoyed working with Ray, she’s a knowledgeable person, who has written her own works in verse. Ray has done her best to get me on the right ‘verse’ track. If any of my verse memoir works as verse, it’s thanks to Ray, more than me – and if it doesn’t work as verse, well, that’s entirely my fault!
I’ve shared this memoir at various stages in various forms. The earlier versions are certainly poor attempts at verse. I think I’ve got at least a teensy bit better as I’ve gone on. Sharing my work in these earlier stages though, has led to some doubt about whether or not my work is actually verse, rather than prose chopped up. I hope it’s just that it was earlier versions shared, that led to the question. I’m nowhere near being an expert on the question of ‘what is verse?’
You know what? I’m not going to worry about this question. If it turns out my work is judged to actually be chopped up prose rather than verse, so be it. My main aim was to get the words out there, my thoughts and ideas about how to live a good life when you’ve been handed this troublesome disease to try to live well with.
I know how lonely I felt at first, not feeling understood as I wondered how to live my life now that I had MS. I’ve learned things, and met people, and these things have helped me so much. If my memoir, whatever form of writing it really is, helps other people to feel more in control of their life, and less alone, then my memoir has done the job I hoped it could do!
If you have MS, and feel alone, please reach out to others – people with MS truly do know how you’re feeling, because we’ve live through it too.