So many writers deal with not just one health issue, but multiple issues. It can feel like our bodies are attacking us or even sabotaging our efforts to write. Guest Lindsay A. Franklin understands, and she’s here to share how God is bringing her through her own health struggles and enabling her to meet deadlines and thrive on her writing journey.
About Lindsay A. Franklin
Lindsay A. Franklin is a Carol Award–winning author, freelance editor, and homeschooling mom of three. She would wear pajama pants all the time if it were socially acceptable. Lindsay lives in her native San Diego with her scruffy-looking nerf-herder husband, their precious geeklings, three demanding thunder pillows (a.k.a. cats), and a stuffed marsupial named Wombatman. She’s @LinzyAFranklin on Instagram and Twitter, and she Facebooks at facebook.com/LindsayAFranklin.
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Karen: Welcome, listeners, to the deep. We’re so glad that you’re here with us today. We have a guest, Lindsay A. Franklin, and Erin, the inimitable, is going to introduce her.
Erin: I can’t even say that word! No, this isn’t a do- over like the Groundhog Day movie. We really do have Lindsay Franklin with us for another episode, because we had so much we wanted to talk about. So, just as a reminder, Lindsay A. Franklin is the Carol Award-winning author of five books. She’s a freelance editor and a homeschooling mom of three, and she’s also been diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder: Ehlers Danlos syndrome.
If you heard our last podcast, you heard part of our interview where we talked with her about that long journey to finding the diagnosis in the midst of starting her writing career. If you didn’t hear it, go back and listen. It’s a good one!
Today we want to continue our conversation with her and talk about the practical side of how in the world she managed all those book contracts in the midst of dealing with the repercussions of her disease that she deals with all of the time.
Lindsay: Thank you so much for having me back. I’m excited to be here again.
Erin: We love having you. You had mentioned in our last show that you had to have knee surgery, and right as we were ending, you were like, “Yeah, I had to do all these books.” We thought our listeners would want to know some of the deal with that, the practical side. How did you do that?
Lindsay: That’s such a good question. I think something all of us who struggle with chronic conditions have to wrestle with that a lot. How am I going to do these things that I want to do? How am I going to accomplish what I want to in life, or fulfill my obligations?
At that point, once I had signed on the dotted line, it was like, I have to. I literally have to do this. I agreed to legally, so how am I going to do that? I think there are a few tips that will hopefully resonate for people in a similar position.
Time management is very key for me because I never really know when I’m going to feel good, and when I’m going to be completely not functional. Because that’s kind of how I swing. I know for some people it’s like their baseline is just constantly sort of lower all the time. They have to figure out how they’re going to make the most of the limited amount of energy that they have all the time.
I’m kind of very up and down with my energy levels. Some days I’m just super way up here, and I can get tons of stuff done. Then other days it’s literally nothing, and my husband is pulling all the weight around the house, taking care of the kids and everything. Because I just can’t do anything because my pain levels are too high.
For me, I do a lot of planning where I will look out at my long-term calendar. I look at my short-term calendar. I’m kind of tactile, so I have a paper planner still. We’ve got our digital family calendar that we put all our appointments in. But for my work, I like to look at it on paper so that I can see the whole month at a time. Then I can see the week.
In those days, when I had five books under contract at once, I had an hourly. You know, like a daily planner that had everything broken down by hour, because then what I could do was block out my days. These are the times I simply have to pick up the kids from school, or these are the times I’ve got a doctor’s appointment or whatever, you know, those appointments you can’t move around. I would block those out first.
Then I would look at what deadlines are coming up. What are the kids’ school deadlines, school obligations coming up that I need to be involved with? It’s helpful that they’re older now. When they were littler, that was a much bigger slice of my daily pie, so to speak.
Karen: Okay, so I have four and a half minutes on Thursday next week where I can write…
Lindsay: That’s pretty much what it was. When my kids were little and I was homeschooling them full-time, my husband would get home. I think it was on Wednesday evenings and Friday evenings, those were my times to write. I would leave the house because that was the only way that I could really disconnect mentally from what was going on at home and all of my obligations there. He would just be like, “Okay, I’m here. I got dinner. Go.”
I would eat dinner out, just by myself, and write until 9 or 10, whenever my coffee shop closed. I wrote an entire, 100,000 word fantasy novel that way over the course of however many months it took me to do that.
So what I do practically really does vary depending on the season of life that I’m in. I was lucky that when I had all these books under contract, my kids were a little older, a little bit more independent. I was able to focus a little more time on writing.
Being realistic about what I can actually do, not looking at the paper and saying, “Oh, well, if I work every single spare minute that I have open on my calendar, then I can turn this in earlier.”
I’m always tempted to do that. “Oh, I can also take on an editing project while I write…No. Don’t do it, Lindsay. Stop.”
Those are lessons I’ve had to learn because my instinct is to do that. So I would say yes, agree to all these different things and you know, realize that I’d made a mistake and no, I can’t actually do all those things.
Erin: I love that, though, Lindsay. That’s so smart to put that on paper because there’s no fudging. You can’t pretend that those blocks aren’t full when they’re full. I think that helps you have permission to say no to certain things.
Lindsay: Yeah. And to really see it, to see it on paper, and to see how little some of those open blocks are. Like one day, I’m going to have 45 minutes to work. I mean, I simply can’t look at that and say, “Oh yes, I have time for X, Y, Z,” because it’s obvious that I don’t.
Erin: Right. Very cool. I’m curious, you had said that you deal with these ups and these downs. Do you find yourself ever struggling with feeling guilty when you’re in that down and you can’t do anything? And if so, how do you get past that?
Lindsay: Absolutely. That it has been a really big struggle for me. Because I do like to say yes. I like to say yes to a lot of things. So when I say yes to something and then I’m struck down and can’t follow through in the way that I wanted to, or I’m late with following through on something, I really do struggle with feeling guilty about that.
It does give me permission to say no at the outset more when I know that I’m going to feel worse. I hate to say no, I really do. Especially when a young writer contacts me. “Would you maybe be willing to read my book for endorsement?” I always want to say yes to that, because it’s so hard to ask people that question.
I know that feeling, so that kind of stuff, it just kills me to have to say no upfront. But I also know that it’s worse for me and for them to say yes to something like that, and then to have no time to actually be able to follow through with that, because then they’re all hopeful waiting for that endorsement that may come in. Then I have to say, “I’m so sorry. I did not have time in my schedule to be able to work it in.”
Karen: The thing to always keep in mind in those situations, so that you don’t end up falling into guilty feelings, is that God knows the exact right people to be endorsing that person’s book. You can say no with the full confidence that it’s not like God turns around and says, “What did she say? She was supposed to do this.”
He doesn’t do that. And if you say yes when you know you shouldn’t, then you are short circuiting what God is trying to accomplish with someone else.
Lindsay: It’s so true. That’s such a good point. I think it’s really easy, and maybe this is especially true for women. I don’t know, maybe guys are like this, too. But I think it’s really easy to feel like all of this depends on us. That if we’re not doing it, nobody else is going to. I just feel like my female friends are right there in that camp with me, where we feel like we have to be all things to all people or else the world’s gonna fall apart. And that’s just not true. It’s not true.
God has it. He’s got the big-picture plan already laid out. I keep telling myself over and over, “You’re not that important, Lindsay.”
Karen: That’s exactly right.
Lindsay: The world is not going to fall apart if you have to say no to something, it’s really not that serious. So yeah, that’s a good word.The world is not going to fall apart if you have to say no to something. @LinzyAFranklin #amwriting #Christianwriter @karenball1 Click To Tweet
Karen: It’s way too easy for us in the Christian world for Christian women to feel as though we’re both the cause of and solution to all the problems around us. “It’s my fault. Somehow it’s my fault. I have to do something to fix this and if I don’t, nobody else is going to.”
And God’s like, “Would you mind getting out of the way, please?”
Erin: “I’m trying to do something here. Move over.”
Lindsay: “I’ve got this.” Yes. So true. Relatable. I wish it weren’t so relatable, but it is.
Erin: We understand! The other thing we wanted to talk about was when COVID was shutting everything down last year, that was right about when the third book of your Weaver trilogy came out. You had said, “Yeah, that’s an interesting story.”
We’re like, “Well, now we have to hear that.” So tell us what happened with that.
Lindsay: It’s kind of funny because yes, The Story Hunter, which is book three, released in May of 2020. So a very difficult time pandemic-wise. A tumultuous time politically, socially. There was a lot going on in May, 2020. And I think if my life has taught me anything, it has really forced me to be flexible.
It forced me to be flexible because I’m probably not naturally the most flexible person. This cracks me up. I have to just throw this in here, because I’m such a nerd, but the health conditions that I have make me laugh because I am physically a very flexible person. Because of my disorder, I’m hyper mobile. I’m literally flexible, and yet inside, not so much.
Oh, I also have a heart condition where I was born with a congenital defect with my heart, which is not actually related to the connective tissue disorder.
Erin: Is there any disorder you don’t have? Is there anything missing in your family?
Lindsay: Right? And my hair is way too frizzy, so I just don’t know.
Karen: I have a host of medical issues as well, and I went to my parents at one point, laughingly, but I said, “Thank you so much for the shallow end of the gene pool, from which I sprung.”
Lindsay: Right? I joke about this. Because I have one older sister, biological, older sister, and she has none of these issues. I was like, you guys saved it all for me. I got the heart from my dad. I got the connective tissue disorder from my mom. I’m like, “What is going on, you guys?”
Karen: They just think you’re so special.
Lindsay: We joke about my heart, too, because I was born into a family of very emotional feelers. I’m the one person in the family who is a T. You know, if you’re into Myers-Briggs, I’m the only T in my entire family. I’m the thinker, they’re all feelers. So we joke about my broken heart and my lack of flexibility.
It’s funny. God has a sense of humor. He does. I’m just convinced. But yes, the book launch, I have learned to be flexible. Especially in publishing where you can plan and plan, and everybody’s got these great production calendars, and you’ve got all of these dates and everything is lined up. Then the delays started happening, or the problem over here with Amazon, or the problem with the printer, or just whatever. You know, there’s always something popping up in publishing.
With The Story Hunter, I was so chill about all of those things that came up. I was just like, okay, well, if the release is delayed, it’s delayed. Again, I’m not that important. Nothing is going to explode or implode if my book doesn’t release exactly on time, or if there’s a delay in shipping. I mean, that’s hard for my readers because I ended book two on a cliffhanger, and they’ve been waiting for this book for like a year at that point. That’s a bummer for them, and I feel bad about that. But really, we just have to go with the flow on these things.
The second book in the series, The Story Raider, which came out in 2019 actually had a harder, more delay-ridden, more tumultuous journey to the shelf than The Story Hunter did. So I was prepared. I was like, nothing can be worse than The Story Raider. It’s gotta be better. And it was. It was fine, you know?
Erin: Wow. So you didn’t feel like there was really any negative impact or anything like that?
Lindsay: I think that because of the pandemic, I think people were actually reading a little bit more. You know, they were stuck at home, especially at that time early on in the pandemic.
I know that some of my friends had very difficult launches, so I don’t want to minimize any of that, you know, difficult launches in 2020. But right where I hit, I think that people were looking for a bit of an escape. They were looking for novels to read. So I didn’t notice a real big impact sales-wise or just anything.
It just kind of rolled the way it was supposed to, and everything was okay. We had a much choppier experience with Raider the year before. Because there was just business stuff outside of my control, outside of my publisher’s control. That was a really rocky road.
Just like with all my health stuff, I feel like I got prepped with something that was harder. I kind of cut my teeth on something that was harder. Then, when what looks on paper like it would be the big disaster in 2020, when that came along, it was like, everything’s going to be okay. ‘Cause I’ve already been through, as far as book launches are concerned, I’ve been through worse. So it’s going to be fine.
Erin: That’s very cool. So we’re getting near again to the end of our time. Do you have some final words of wisdom that you would want to tell, maybe young writers out there, or people struggling with their own chronic illness, or family members with chronic illness, or anything completely off topic?
Lindsay: I think, and it’s almost cliche at this point in the chronic illness community, we’ve all heard probably the concept of spoons at this point.
Karen: The only spoons I know is a game.
Lindsay: That’s fun too. Oh, yay. I’m so excited to share this. Okay, the concept of spoons is that spoons are like your energy or your capacity to do things, basically. When you have a chronic illness, you just start the day with a certain number of spoons. One day might be like a two-spoon day when you’ve got almost nothing. Just getting up and getting into the shower to clean yourself, costs you a spoon. Then you’re down to just one, and what are you going to do with that spoon for the day?
This is a really helpful way for me to explain to people who don’t have chronic illnesses what it’s like. I may wake up with say, 20 spoons in a day. And I’m going to spend a certain number of those just being a mom, and being a wife, and taking care of my kids, taking care of my house. Then you’re left with a certain number and what are you going to do with those?
And self-care costs spoons. Working out costs me spoons, which is important for my joints. I have to work out. That’s not like a luxury, you know?
So, that idea of having a limited amount of resources and energy, that is important in explaining to other people what it’s like. And how even the small things that they don’t even think about, like my husband is such a healthy guy and he’s got all the energy, I feel like he has unlimited spoons. Of course he doesn’t, because nobody does, but he starts with so many.
He doesn’t even think about stuff like going and taking a shower, that that would cost any kind of energy for him. He just does that. For me, that does cost me some of my spoons.
I find that very helpful in helping people understand, but also in reframing the way I think about my day. My time, my life. It’s just acknowledging that I have a limited number of spoons. What am I going to say yes to? What do I want to spend those spoons on? Because it’s not unlimited.
I want to spend my spoons doing things that I love, not just things that I like. That really helps me to decide what I want to say yes to. I want to say yes to being a fantasy novelist.I want to spend my spoons doing things that I love, not just things that I like. That really helps me to decide what I want to say yes to. @LinzyAFranklin @Karenball1 #amwriting Click To Tweet
Do I want to say yes to being a volunteer over here? Or doing this other kind of book? Or you know, any of the other opportunities that come up to me. I really have to weigh that. Do I want to spend however many spoons it’s going to cost me for whatever period of time on that project?
So it’s helpful to explain to other people, but it’s been really important to me in reframing how I think about my life.
Erin: I love that.
Karen: Lindsay, it’s been so good to have you on again, to talk through all these things. And it’s encouraging because it helps remind us that we can only do what we can do. We shouldn’t be trying to get in there doing other people’s jobs. We shouldn’t be trying to get in there and do God’s job.
These things that are in our lives that come to us, health, family, all of it, it comes for a reason and God uses them for these amazing tools to teach us and refine us. I went from being a high energy level, type-A personality “gotta do it, gotta be the best,” to being, “Oh, well, God’s got this.” And I’m very comfortable with that.
I’m comfortable with saying I can do what I can do, and the rest is up to God. It’s not on me. I think more of us need to come to that place, as you have with what you’ve learned. Thank you so much for sharing with our listeners today. We really appreciate it.
Erin: We do!
Lindsay: It’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me back on.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Do you feel like your body is sabotaging your writing journey? What helps you keep writing?
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