A Brief (Hi)Story of Me

As I embark on my journey as a book coach, I feel that for you to be able to trust me with your stories, you need to know I trust you with mine.

Each of us consists of thousands of different stories, millions. Today I tell you about the one that has shaped every part of me and my life.

When I was 14 years old and thinking about how to make my dreams for my life come true, I got sick from a virus. Where most people recovered, I never did. The virus that turned into a chronic illness tentatively diagnosed as myalgic encephalomyalitis has dictated my life ever since.

In the years that followed, I went from being a girl who was full of potential to a shell of a teenager feeling insignificant and hopeless. Disbelief and mistrust came my way everywhere I turned. It led to dashed hopes. Broken dreams. Medical gaslighting. Cut-off friendships. Not to mention fatigue, physical pain and other assorted symptoms.

Having lost so much along the road of invisible illness, I turned back to stories.

During my early childhood, books had always been by my side. However during my adolescence, school took over and while I could still be found in the library all day it was now to do my homework; not to read fiction.

Until I got sick and I rediscovered my love of books. It was then that I made new friends. Although they were fictional, they were always there for me when I needed to be comforted. My fictional friends never got angry with me over another cancelled birthday party. They offered a safe space when reality did not.

These stories also taught me a lot. About life, love, friendships, good and evil and history. They stimulated my imagination and provided a safe haven for me to escape to. They formed a world where life made sense, friendships lasted and endings were mostly happy.

Stories have been an important part of my life since. They still teach me about life, love and people. They still provide me the safe space to be myself.

But for a while now I no longer see stories as the escapism they once seemed to me, as the escapism I needed them to be. Now, I see these science fiction and fantasy stories I read as mirrors, reflecting reality back at me. As life has continued to throw its challenges my way, as it will have done you, stories have remained there to make sense of a world that often doesn’t seem to make much sense at all.

After years of downward spiralling into worsening illness and anxiety, I was recently finally been able to halt the motion. The opportunity to become a book coach was my flashing red ‘STOP’ button. After losing any sense of purpose in life, experiencing loneliness throughout countless days spent alone and loss of hope for better days, a bright yellow torchlight suddenly shone straight in my face, guiding me out of the downward spiral further into darkness and into hope.

I discovered a new purpose for myself. A perfect fit for all the life experience I had gained through being sick combined with my love of stories and passion for storytelling.

I now get to be part of the creation of the stories that have meant so much to me in my life. To me there is no greater purpose to devote my working life to.

I get to help writers tell stories that are important to them and help them gain the confidence to do so.

I get to help writers write what lays deep within their hearts.

I get to be part of the journey of a fellow human as a creator, as a writer and as a storyteller.

I get to help writers tell stories, stories in which marginalised people like me, being chronically ill and bi, can see themselves. Especially in fantasy and sci-fi where the constraints of the imagination can be loosened.

I hope you join me on this new and wild adventure, whether as a casual onlooker, a fellow book coach or as a writer.

Let’s together create stories from our hearts!

x Sandra