Original Call for Writing

Update: The submission deadline has passed. The book has been published.

Blue background with brown outline of a head made up of thorns, in center of head is the titleThe Things We Don’t Say and below that the subtitle An Anthology of Chronic Illness Truths, at bottom Julie Morgenlender, Editor

Get your copy of the book now right here!

Original Call for Writing:

Chronic Illness Truths (working title) will be an anthology (a collection of stories by different writers and published as a book) about living with a chronic illness. It will offer comfort to those who feel alone and it will offer insight to those whose loved ones have chronic illnesses. It will discuss both the big pictures and the tiny details that we encounter every day. Please read through this page, and then if you have any questions, email me at chronicillnesstruths@gmail.com

If you’re not going to submit a story but you would like to receive status updates about this project, just sign up here:

Who you are

A person with one or more chronic illnesses and who wants to share a story. No writing experience is needed. If English isn’t your first language, that’s ok. We’ll have editors to clean up grammar and such, and then authors will get to approve the final drafts.

How much to write

Suggested length for each submission is 300-2000 words. You may submit more than one entry and each will be considered separately (so it’s possible more than one will be accepted, but not guaranteed.)

What you should write about

Write about anything you like that has to do with living with a chronic illness. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • What do you wish you’d known when you were diagnosed?
  • What do you wish you’d known pre-diagnosis?
  • That one time X happened (this story can be a funny, sad, touching, scary, or anything else.)
  • What do you want your loved ones to understand about living with a chronic illness?
  • Good and bad stories about hospital stays.
  • Good and bad stories about working with doctors and other medical professionals.
  • The day-to-day difficulties that others find surprising
  • Dealing with health insurance companies.
  • The process of applying for and receiving long term disability insurance, SSDI, or your country’s version of social security disability insurance.
  • Your health’s affects on your relationships (with friends, romantic partners, children, parents, siblings, coworkers, etc.)
  • How health affects your job and how your job affects your health.
  • Daily accommodations you make for your health (diet, walking with a cane, having to avoid stairs, taking naps, spacing out activities, etc.)
  • Nasty or insensitive comments made by strangers, loved ones, coworkers.
  • The time someone took your cane as a joke, tried to move you and your wheelchair out of their path, or otherwise was disrespectful.
  • Embarrassing stories (spilling something at a wedding, that thing that happened during sex, not being able to remember things due to brain fog, etc.)
  • The emotions that you have around your health condition(s).
  • What do your family and friends do that is most helpful and supportive?
  • Intersectionality: how does your race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, etc. affect how you live with a chronic illness?
  • Stereotypes and misconceptions you want to dispel

Your name

It is up to you if you would like to use your real name or not. I will use whatever name you include on your submission. (If you use your real name in your email but a different name on your submission, I will not share your real name.) This can be your real name, your first name with last initial, or a fake name.

How to submit an entry

Please email your submission to me at chronicillnesstruths@gmail.com by September 15, 2016 and include the following:

  • Your contact information, if it is different from the email address you use for your submission. If I use your entry, I will need to be able to contact you.
  • The name you want to use on your submission if it is published.
  • The state/province and country in which you are located. For example, this could be California, United States or Ontario, Canada or Andalucia, Spain.
  • A title for your entry.
  • A story of 300-2000 words.
  • Note: You are welcome to submit more than one entry.
  • You are welcome to use writing that you have had published elsewhere as long as it does not have a copyright that prevents re-publishing the piece. Before publication, all authors will sign a document stating that they have the right to share their piece. The document will also say that this project has a non-exclusive copyright, meaning that you can publish it again elsewhere.
  • If you’d like to make things easier on me, please include your name and the title of the piece at the top of the document.

What “counts” as a chronic illness

I have gotten a lot of questions asking if ____ “counts” as a chronic illness. My answer is always the same: it’s not my place to label your condition. If you have a condition that you feel is a chronic illness then please participate!

What will happen next

I will confirm receipt of your submission when you send it. After the deadline for entries has passed I will review all submissions and contact each author individually about next steps.

Who I am

My name is Julie and I am a 30-something living in New England. I have had autoimmune conditions since childhood, but they weren’t diagnosed until I was in my 20s (and I’m continuing to get new diagnoses even now.) Feel free to email me at chronicillnesstruths@gmail.com if you have questions or just want to chat.

Why I am writing this book

Several “healthy” friends have been urging me lately to write a book. The horrible world of chronic illness to which I have become all too accustomed is odd to them. Where I take something for granted, they see surprises. They think more people need to understand this. At the same time, I have become more active in patient communities. I have found great comfort in realizing I’m not alone, and now I try to help the newer newcomers to feel less alone. I see the difficulties so many people face while feeling isolated and lonely. Every time I mention this project, fellow spoonies get very excited and ask when they can read it.

I have considered writing a book about the inequities of the disability insurance realm, about the lack of empathy for autoimmune patients in the medical community, or about any of a dozen other topics. I finally decided that I want to write about them all. More than that, I don’t want this book to have only my voice. I want it to have many voices. That is why I have chosen to create an anthology.

So have two main goals for this book:

  1. To help others with chronic illness to feel less alone.
  2. To educate our loved ones about what it’s really like to live with a chronic illness.

How you can help

Please share this site with you family, friends, acquaintances, medical providers, support group members, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Tumblr followers…. anyone and everyone who might want to contribute. The more the better! And please contribute yourself. The goal is to have a diverse group of writers, including different ethnicities, races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, countries of origin, ages, and types of illness. If you want to see more voices like yours in books like these, here’s your chance! Start your own submission right now!