I Wrote 90,000 Words on my Smartphone. And I Wasn’t Texting.

I wrote a book on my smartphone. It took me the better part of a decade, but I was able to type out all 90,000 words of my memoir, When Force Meets Fate, on a tiny 4.7 inch iPhone screen. It wasn’t my preference, or even a shameless quest to stand out in an industry that publishes hundreds of thousands of books each year. No. I wrote a book on my phone because I’m disabled, and it was my only option.

My disability began as a viral illness, which, over several years, developed into myalgic encephalomyelitis — an energy-leeching, multi-system disease that Dr. Anthony Fauci has compared to “long haul” COVID

For the first few years, I was constantly fatigued and plagued by weakness and nausea, but I could still take care of myself and work from home as an editorial assistant. 

It was around this time that I started working on When Force Meets Fate, which focused on my battle with chronic illness and disability. But three years after I began writing, my condition worsened. Suddenly I couldn’t walk or eat on my own. I was too weak to speak and couldn’t use my phone. Finishing my book became an even more difficult task, if not an impossible one.

For months, I had to use hand signals to communicate, and my only nourishment came from liquid meals, which I had to drink through a straw.

Eventually, after lots of steroids and antiviral medications, my health began to improve. I could speak softly and eat solid food again. And while I wanted to finish my book, I still wasn’t quite up to it. So I started writing essays. 

In 2017, I wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times titled, ”Surviving by Smartphone,” describing how I needed my phone to communicate. What I didn’t mention was how I also needed it to write that very article. 

A year later, I wrote an essay called, ”Love Means Never Having to Say . . . Anything,” also on my phone. It was published by The New York Times for its “Modern Love” column. 

But these were relatively short pieces (both under 2,000 words). If I wanted to finish my book, I would have to replicate them 50 times. I was determined to do just that. I didn’t think about how daunting it was, I just put my thumbs on the screen and got to typing. 

My phone was too bright, worsening my neurological symptoms, so I wore sunglasses to shield my eyes, sometimes even strapping on welding or tanning goggles for added protection. There I was, lying in a small hospital bed, finishing my book with a pair of hot pink tanning goggles on.

Typing tens of thousands of words on tiny digital keys was extremely difficult, but the hardest part was editing — dissecting grammar and sentence structure with big, clumsy thumbs and dark goggles over my eyes. I finally finished the manuscript, and moved on to finding a literary agent who could look for a publisher. I queried more than 100 agents, many of whom rejected my book proposal flat out.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. By this time, I had written several more essays and even appeared on Netflix, giving me a substantial platform with more than 50,000 social media followers. It seemed as though I had everything one would need to get a book deal. But, for some reason, it just wasn’t meant to be. 

I briefly considered self-publishing, but I wanted a publisher who could provide my memoir with a broader audience than I could give it on my own. I decided to use Inkshares, a crowdfunding publisher, who agreed to publish my memoir after I sold more than 750 pre-orders. 

That was more than a year ago, and now, after approving the book’s interior and cover design, even proofing the audiobook, all on my phone, my memoir is being read by people all over the world. 

Some may think writing a book on a phone is impressive, others may think it’s impossible, but when you’re disabled and all you want is to tell your story, it doesn’t matter how you do it. For those of us with disabilities, sometimes the hard way, or even the seemingly impossible way, is the only way.


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