I’m enjoying some cuddles from Pegasus. You can enjoy this fantastic post by Jamieson Wolf.
Words have the power to heal. I experienced this firsthand.
In 2013, I woke one morning with little motor control
and could barely walk. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with
Labyrinthitis. I wasn’t allowed to read or watch television or write at my
computer for two weeks. Thankfully, my mother suggested I listen to audiobooks.
I downloaded the first two Harry Potter books and started listening to them,
certain I wouldn’t like them. Thankfully, I fell in love.
Listening to Harry Potter brought the story and the
world that Harry lives in alive for me in a way that reading the book couldn’t.
Hearing Jim Dale read out Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and then
Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was also a balm to my
soul. Over the two weeks that I had to take off work, I would sit back and
close my eyes and let the words wash over me. I would let the world of Harry
Potter fill in the darkness.
Then other problems began. I didn’t get better. I got
worse. The left side of my body went numb; I fell almost daily. Eventually,
after losing the ability to speak and type on a keyboard (having been able to
type since I was in my teens), I knew that something was very wrong. There was
something else wrong with my body and, after a day in emergency, the doctors
had an idea of what it was that lived within me.
There was a neurologist on staff that night. After
looking me over he informed me that it was probably multiple sclerosis, but
they would have to run tests to make sure. It would be some time until I knew
what was wrong.
I turned to books for comfort. As I didn’t have
Labyrinthitis, the doctors said it was okay for me to read again, thank
goodness. I picked up a book by a new author that one of my friends recommended
to me: Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown. It was about a woman named
Georgie Hart who was desperate to put her life back in order. In a bizarre
coincidence, she had lost her mother when she succumbed to her multiple
sclerosis. This touched me deeply and I felt deeply connected to the book
because of that. I went on to read Cupcakes at Carrington’s three more times
and it was magical every single time.
I went through a battery of different tests: vision
and hearing, bloodwork, a CAT scan and an MRI and a spinal tap to finish it all
off. Now all I could do was wait. While I waited for the diagnosis, I knew that
I needed to write something, anything. I would lie in bed at night and watch
the stories I wanted to tell float above my head. Before, I could write ten
thousand words in a weekend without breaking a sweat. Now, I could only write
five or so words at a time, forcing my fingers to hit the right keys.
I decided that I had to write. I had to write something.
I had dabbled in poetry in my teens before turning to short stories, novellas
and novels. I figured that writing poetry would give me another way to tell
stories. My poems would do away with iambic petametre and a rhyming scheme.
Instead, they would be raw and real, part memoir and part story. I would take
those five words that I wrote a day and stitch the poem together when I thought
it was done.
Each poem took me about a week or more to write, but
as I continued, I noticed something: I was getting better. Five words a day
slowly climbed to ten and then to fifteen. I remember hitting twenty words a
day and I felt elated. It was as if I had climbed a flat mountain and could
look back at all of the words I had written. It was as if I could fly. Soon, I
had a small collection of poems. I even thought that I might one day collect
them all together and publish them. I had an idea for a title: Talking to the
Sky. It would be a reference to when I was trying to heal and would sit at the
computer, staring at the blank screen unable to type and tell the stories that
I wanted to. It was like I was talking to the clouds.
Then, after three months, I received my diagnosis, a
day before my birthday: I had relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis. I
wasn’t afraid. Now, I knew the monster within me had a name.
I retreated into the world of Harry Potter once again.
I have read the Harry Potter series more than anything else. I read the series
once a year and have stopped counting the fortieth time I read the series the
entire way through. That was years ago. I turned to his story when I needed
comfort, when I needed joy. When I was sad or depressed, the story held within
the books was pure magic. I needed Harry and company at that moment more than
I also needed to write more than poetry. I needed to
break out of the constraint of sewing words together like a patchwork quilt. I
needed to write a novel. I didn’t know how long it would take, or if it would
be any good. It didn’t matter; I was angry, surprisingly so, and I wanted to
write something that would help soothe the anger. I wanted to give the anger a
With that in mind, I started writing a novel I called
The Other Side of Oz. In the novel, Justin is an Oz fanatic who has started
seeing yellow bricks everywhere he goes. Is it his imagination intruding into
real life? Then Justin and the boy he likes are in an accident. They travel to
Justin’s version of Oz, but again, is it real or is it their imagination? I
wanted to find some way to convey the sense of the unreal that I lived with
every day. While not about Harry Potter, it was about the other series of books
that had formed a large part of my childhood and adulthood. I wanted to write
about someplace magical that wasn’t the world I lived in.
By the time I was done the book, a few months had passed.
It had been exhausting, trying to force my brain to think of a story and
forcing my fingers to type the words out. However, when I typed The End, I was
elated once more. I had climbed another flat mountain, this one higher than the
others that I had climbed.
I noticed other things, too. I was lighter, as if a
weight had been taken from me. Scrolling through the pages of the novel that I
had typed out, I knew it was because I had put the weight of that anger and
uncertainty into The Other Side of Oz. That novel has never seen the light of
day; perhaps, with a hefty edit, it will someday soon.
What I’ve come to realize six years later, is that I
would have been a lot worse without the magic of words. The books I love kept
me sustained and comforted when I need it and, when that wasn’t enough, my own
words had flown out of me to relieve me of the pain and angst I was carrying
within me. Words were the magic that I wielded. As much as the multiple
sclerosis took a lot of things from me and made me revaluate how I lived my
life, the one thing that didn’t leave me was the magic of words. Each one I
write is part of the spell that I weave and each one I read heals me still.
I would be lost without them.
Jamieson Wolf is a number one best selling author (he likes to tell people that a lot!). His recent works include the memoir Little Yellow Magnet and the novels Lust and Lemonade and Life and Lemonade. A third novel, Love and Lemonade, comes out later this year. You can learn more about Jamieson at http://www.jamiesonwolf.com
We’re having a party to celebrate our accomplishments, and most of all, our amazing people. We’d love for you all to join us at the Red Lion (47 Clarence St., Ottawa) on Sunday May 27th, 5-7 PM. Entrance is FREE, and you’ll be able to buy our books and get them signed by our authors!
Since we’ve always been very silly, geeky people, we invite you to attend cosplaying as your favorite literary character. This is entirely optional, but we will be giving out a prize to the best/cleverest costume!
Don’t worry if you don’t feel like dressing up – as always, we’ll also be giving out excellent door prizes as well!
As part of our celebration, we will be launching four new titles, all by Ottawa authors, some of whom you already know and love, and some brand-new names you’ll quickly add to your favorites:
The Sign of Faust (Baker City Mysteries, Elizabeth book 2) by Éric Desmarais (YA Supernatural suspense)
Can Elizabeth find out who’s trying to kill her — and discover the source of everyone’s luck — while navigating dating, concerts, school, and competing in the science Olympics? ISBN: 978-1-987963-33-5 – Available now!
Life After Redby by Kaitlin Caul (Horror)
Die. Become a zombie. Get needled. Do it all over again. Caught in the endless cycle of death, zombification, and resurrection, Cass became scarred inside and out. Now, her skills are needed again. ISBN: 978-1-987963-29-8
To Pluck a Crow by Sue Taylor-Davidson (Historical mystery)
Could Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets have been written by more than one person? As Janek and Sarah investigate, they get tangled up in another mystery. ISBN: 978-1-987963-30-4 – Available now!
Life and Lemonade by Jamieson Wolf (LGBTQIAPP2+)
All’s fair in love and war . . . but sometimes life gets in the way. ISBN: 978-1-987963-36-6 – Available now!
This location has a street-facing accessible entrance, and a city parking lot directly across the street from it.
We will have a specialized menu for the event which will include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
The location unfortunately could not offer gender-neutral restrooms at this time, but we will have designated and clearly identified bathroom buddies to accompany you to the bathroom for any reason, no questions asked.
The location has provided us with a specialized menu just for the event. Please note that burgers have optional gluten-free buns!
When I started to write Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book that dealt with gender.
Before writing Lust and Lemonade, I was primarily a romance and erotica writer. I delved into the lives of men and the ones that loved them, set in mythical worlds with otherworldly beings. The men fought for each other with every fibre of their being, using their magic to save the day and save the man they loved.
When I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I only intended to write about what I knew. I knew gay men being one myself. But as I continued to write, other characters wanted to come onto the page, too. One of them was a woman named Poppy and she was pregnant. She was also a lesbian.
I didn’t know anything about pregnancy and what women went through with having a child. I relied on my beta reader for info on the female gender and about what is involved with having a lesbian relationship. I was in uncharted waters and Google would only take me so far. I had written women characters before, but the focus was always on the men and the relationships they were having. The women were only secondary and hadn’t taken centre stage. Lust and Lemonade was the first of my novels to feature strong women in lesbian relationships.
As I kept writing, I began to realise something. Two of my characters were transgender. One of them is a transgender woman and the other is a transgender man. If I had no concept of lesbian relationships, I had absolutely zero idea about the transgender population.
This uncharted territory was rather frightening for me as a writer, but it was also freeing in a way. I have never researched a novel before Lust and Lemonade. I delved into the lives of transgender people and what they went through to become who they always were, who they were meant to be.
I also wrote about straight characters finding love. It seemed right that if I was going to write about all kinds of other genders, that I included them too. The characters demanded it, really. It was only fair, they said, that if I was going to have gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in my novel, that the straight people get fair representation, too.
So, when I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book about gender. The book let me know where it wanted to go and the characters that peopled its pages. I also knew that, even though I’ve written many romances, that there would be no sex on the page. It would all take place off stage.
A friend of mine asked me how I could have lust in the title and not include sex scenes? It’s simple. The lust that is in the title is about the lust of getting to know someone, of becoming enraptured and enthralled with them. Much as I became enthralled with all the people in Lust and Lemonade.
I may not have set out to write about gender, but I’m so glad I did. I learned something about others that I didn’t know before, learned about their battles to be who they were and who they were meant to be. Writing Lust and Lemonade made me a better writer and, quite possibly, a better person.
Find out what happens to Blaine, Nancy, Mike, Chuck, and company in Lust and Lemonade, available now from Renaissance Press! You can get your copy here: