Chemo brain and writing - Mo Fanning Author

Chemo brain and writing

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Mo Fanning - The Toast of BrightonI’m supposed to be editing. Or as I like to call it deleting six months hard work to write a totally different story. Call it chemo-brain or call it the fact I realised just a tiny bit too late I’d written the wrong story, but ‘The Toast of Brighton’ is going down to the wire when it comes to hitting deadlines.

Does everyone do this? I seem to remember Victoria Wood once claimed she wrote about ten times what she ever needed so she could edit out the crud. Not that I’m comparing myself, but I’m pretty close this particular book has long passed the million word mark. Now at least I have a tight storyline, and 40,000 words that I’m fairly content to send to my editor anyway, so chances are I’ll make the deadline. But as with everything, you can never be sure.

The day I had chemotherapy, I was cocksure it wouldn’t hit me like it hits everyone else. In fact, I sat there, tapping away at my laptop, doing paid work, writing sales proposals, drafting emails and correcting other people’s words. The day after – the one the doctor told me would feel like a hangover – I felt even better. Steroids kicked in and I ironed every shirt in the house. If Mr Fanning hadn’t unplugged me, I’d have knocked next door to see if they had any little jobs to tackle. All in all, it was a weekend of little sleep, but lots of action. I even wrote a little, which everyone had warned me off, saying no matter how much you feel you’re doing good things, you won’t be.

Should have listened. It’s weird reading the words now, they feel like someone else had control. I recognise the characters and the situation, but the words they speak don’t come from me.

I hit low water on the Wednesday – almost a week after my treatment. Woke at six, hungry for a horse. Created something vaguely egg-based, wolfed it down, told Mr fanning, I felt fabulous and opted for a power nap. That lasted until 6.30pm, when I stumbled zombie-like and crabby as heck from my bed, swigged most of a carton of orange juice, swore at the dog for barking (he didn’t) and stumbled back under the duvet.

It’s nearly two weeks later and I feel like I’m back. I’ve returned to my regular paying job, and it feels so good to be using my brain again. I sat down first thing, rewrote my storyline and know what needs to happen with ‘The Toast of Brighton’. It has an end now. And it’s the end it always had. The one I wanted it to have. I’m back on track.

And for now, that’s me done with boring you about cancer. Check your balls, breasts and anything else that might turn green and drop off. Please.

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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