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As a Writer, I’m Not Ready to Throw in the Towel

Parkinson’s entered my life at 34. Along with writing, I journaled daily. Journaling was my way of working through hard things in my life and the lessons learned from those trials. It was also my way of keeping track of the blessings granted to me.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved to write short stories, articles, poems, novels, essays, and more. I entered some of my writing into contests, won a few (mostly in the short stories category), and received a few awards.

As a young teenager, I asked my grandmother to read a story I wrote for school. When she finished, she praised me for how good she thought it was and told me I should be a writer. A few years later, my creative writing teacher in high school told me I should pack up my pencil and find something better to do with my life, adamant I would never measure up as a writer.

I was crushed, but I kept on writing. However, I never asked anyone to read any of my writing after that. I took another creative writing class in college, and when it came time to read my work or have it read by the instructor out loud, it was received favorably, which boosted my morale to continue on.

Years went by, and Parkinson’s entered my life at 34. Along with writing, I journaled daily. Journaling was my way of working through hard things in my life and the lessons learned from those trials. It was also my way of keeping track of the blessings granted to me.

Shortly after my diagnosis, I began a blog titled “Parkinson’s Journey.” I shared my heart on those pages, including all the trials and the blessings, my experiences journeying through this disease, and the wisdom I had gained.

Eventually, I was asked to write for Parkinson’s News Today, which I accepted with great excitement. This is my fourth year here. Lately, I have been wondering if I am running on empty and have nothing left to give. I have questioned whether or not I still have anything worth sharing. I sit down to write and nothing comes. I am empty.

And then, something happened. Somewhere in my messed up brain, I had been thinking that I needed to share more technical information. But I am more of an “experience” writer. I write from my heart, from my personal experiences, and not about information shared in medical journals and the like. I will do it (and sometimes with great enthusiasm and joy) if I have a personal attachment to the subject, but in truth, I usually find it frustrating, and it tends to drain my joy of writing.

And so, I have been mulling over all of this for the last few days and weeks. Nearly ready to throw in the towel, I sat down at the table and did what they teach you in all those creative writing classes. When you are empty, write. When you are stuck, write. When you think you have writer’s block, write. No matter what appears on the paper, keep writing.

I decided to write and see what came of it. And you know what? I found my voice again. I found me, the me with Parkinson’s disease, and I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

By Sherri Woodbridge, first published on https://parkinsonsnewstoday.com/ January 7, 2021