I’m not very open with my health. Sometimes I complain here and there when I just have to complain to someone other than my wife, but mostly I try not to. Most people know I have arthritis because I carry a cane to walk (kind of hard to hide), but most people don’t know I also have Crohn’s disease. Both these conditions cause me a lot of pain on a daily bases and lately it’s just gotten worse and worse. Although I strive to be an optimistic and outgoing person, living with chronic pain makes it very hard. Sometimes I just want to be a hermit and hide away. Sometimes I’m short with people, say things I don’t really mean, and stress about a lot of stuff—which then only adds to the pain. If you have been on the receiving end of one of my irrational outbursts, I sincerely apologize. It is this “grumpy” behavior that has really made me step back and see that I need to take better care of myself—my heath—before I can benefit anyone around me. And for this reason I am cutting back on a lot of things.
The biggest thing I’ll be cutting back on is presenting at conferences. I love writing conferences. I love being able to interact with fellow writers, learn great tips of the trade, and I love to teach. The thing is, I go to these conferences and have to either stand for a really long time or sit for a really long time. I try my best to put on a happy face and pretend I’m not hurting, but I can’t pretend anymore. I have to accept that I am living with chronic pain, I am legally disabled, and I have limitations. Most of the time I just barely make it through the conference, go home and complain to my wife about how much I’m hurting, and end up taking my stress and pain out on my family—something they don’t deserve.
I will not be cancelling all my conferences or visits I have set up. Just like prioritizing my health, I have to prioritize my career as well. I feel that conferences aimed at my readership like teen conferences, and school and library visits help sell my books and expand my audience. I’m fortunate enough to have a presentation partner, Ali Cross. She has recently been open about her limitations when it comes to her health and I feel we help balance each other out quite well. Without her I couldn’t do as much as I do. So I will continue to attend things geared toward children. While I love going to writing conferences, I don’t sell a lot of my children’s books to fellow writers. Which I understand—they are trying to sell their own books to make it. I have to put myself where I am using my energy the best way I can.
I am sorry to say but I will not be attending LTUE this year. I love LTUE. I have been either a guest or an attendee for the past ten years. I have watched this conference get bigger and bigger with each year and I have made so many dear friends as a result of this conference. This conference is where I met Jeff Savage, who has been instrumental in my writing career. It is where I first met great editors and publishers. It is where I have gotten so many tips on honing my craft. I will miss going. Honestly, I can barely make it through a three hour block of church let alone sit or stand for hours at a conference and then have to drive back home. It’s just not ideal anymore. I just hope that by next year my health will improve and I’ll be able add more conferences to the mix. I will miss seeing many of you.
I have to put this in here because I know if I don’t it will happen—honestly it will probably happen anyway. I am not looking for any remedies you might have, diet suggestions, or miracle oils or shakes. I have doctors that are doing their very best to help me manage a disease that, as of now, has no cure. I know you mean well and have heard of someone or perhaps you that has benefited from some miracle diet or something, but I’m really not looking for that. I’ve tried lots of things and will probably try lots more, I’m just not interested in getting a bunch of advice on how to manage my conditions. I do not mean to sound rude and I hope no one if offended by me saying this. If you feel you want to help me, just pray. Honestly, God is the best remedy for anything. I will appreciate and love you for it.
So this is a lot longer than I thought it would be. I just wanted to explain why you might not see me at a few conferences coming up or why I might decline if you ask me (which is a very hard thing for me to do). I love all of you. I am grateful for all you have done for me. I hope you all know that. Be well, my friends. And God bless you!