* Spoonie Celeb Interview: Morgan Bauman *
Bauman’s Rewritten series is a wonderful set of books that really resonated with me on the topics of physical and mental illness. It’s a quick, engrossing read, and the best part is that the author’s a spoonie just like us!
I seriously can’t say enough great things about this series—so be sure to check out the first book, Fallacy, for FREE on Amazon, iTunes, and Goodreads [direct epub link]. If you want to hear more about my impressions, you can read my more general review of it right here.
But let’s get to the cool part. I was able to do a quick interview with them [they prefer gender-neutral pronouns] about their writing and their spoonie life. Check it out:
So, what’s your spoonie story?
I hardly know where to start, haha. I was born premature, and I grew up sickly enough that they nearly held me back a grade for missing school. Some sickly kids grow up to be healthy—not me. I got worse as I got older. Of course, this drove me into Stubborn Mode. I spent June 2011-February 2012 working approximately a hundred hours a week while feeding two people on $20. Between that and the little kids (because I was working in elementary schools), I got sick with so many things that I never actually got well.
That’s where my health really went kaput. I was forced to quit to take care of my health, and I’m still recovering. I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of my conditions, but I’ve got something chronic in every system of the body, so I think I’m likely to be a spoonie all of my days.
In terms of mental health, I’ve got OCD, GAD, Agoraphobia, and Panic Disorder. I’m also a proud Aspie. I’m in therapy and taking meds to treat the first four, but the ASD [autism spectrum disorder] isn’t so much an illness as different thought wiring. I’m just trying to learn the alien ways of NTs [neurotypicals—in this case, folks who aren’t on the autism spectrum], haha.
What roles do physical illness, mental illness, and disability play in this series?
In the first book, the main characters have primarily invisible mental illnesses. Depression, PTSD, anxiety, a touch of OCD (only a touch, since writing at length about OCD sets off my own OCD, and then I never get anything done), and the Autism spectrum all feature in the main characters. Even so, physical illness and disability are relatively minor in this first book. As the story progresses, however, even healthy characters experience disability—whether temporary or permanent.
I have done extensive research throughout the series to ensure that I have as realistic a depiction as possible of these illnesses. Most of them are also grounded in my own experience.
It’s tempting to try to put disability as a theme in my works—to give it a grand role—but, truthfully, I’m just depicting life as I know it. I read hundreds of books as a kid, and none of them ever had children who couldn’t run without wheezing. None of them had characters who were so terrified they broke down crying when they had to go somewhere unfamiliar. For many years, I took it as escapism, but I think everyone wants to see characters like themselves in the books they love. Why can’t someone with panic disorder save the world? It’s harder, sure—but everything is harder for spoonies, isn’t it?
How have your illnesses and your writing interacted in your life?
Unfortunately, I can’t give some heartwarming speech about how disability inspires my writing and writing gives me freedom. Here’s the truth: my joints ache if I write for more than an hour at a time. When I try to do NaNoWriMo nowadays, my hands hurt so badly by the end of the day that I can’t even pick up a glass of water. My Hashimoto’s comes with brain fog that can bog down all of my words and keep me from advancing to the next sentence no matter how hard I try. And, like all spoonies, I sometimes don’t have the spoons for the things I need to do, let alone the things I enjoy. There are days when I can’t even sit up.
Despite that, I love writing. I love being able to connect with people across time and space. I love being able to leave something tangible behind at the end of a bad day. I don’t think any work would suit me better.
What’s the one piece of advice you want to give to spoonies out there?
My advice is this: You matter. Never ever forget that. Our society ingrains into us the mantra that we are only as important as the work we produce. We only matter as much as the currency we generate. We are burdens.
It’s a lie.
We matter. Never ever forget that. Not even for a moment.
I still struggle with this, myself, but I think it’s critical to remember. You didn’t do anything other than lie down and try to breathe today? You still matter. You are so important. I just hope you know that.