Andrew Marshall shares a long journey

Rolling Inspiration
By Rolling Inspiration
5 Min Read

Andrew Marshall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) – a rare genetic disorder where the body produces antibodies that limit the production of frataxin, a protein vital for nerve and muscle health. A lack of frataxin leads to muscle depletion and other symptoms. He also recently published his memoirs and shares some thoughts with ROLLING INSPIRATION.

In 2010, I was a complete and utter mess from a psychological point of view. Yes, a muscle disease is a physical thing, but it’s also very much a battle of the mind. It presents psychological, philosophical and often spiritual obstacles that must be negotiated up here between our ears.

For many years people encouraged me to write my story simply to share with others and maybe encourage people in a similar position. But the truth is, I was too young and full of rubbish, too emotionally ‘crippled’ to put down anything of substance. Eventually, after more than 15 years of dealing with FA, I started … little by little.

That was eight years ago.

Once I started, I found that writing my thoughts down without judgement, simply pouring raw emotions onto my keyboard was incredibly and unexpectedly cathartic. I’m nowhere close to considering myself a ‘real’ writer thanks to a combination of some pretty delicious dyslexia, instinctive procrastination or laziness operating at Olympic levels and dodgy keyboard skills (which I suspect applies to a lot of you, too).

After meeting my editor, Andrew Miller, and having him help me reshape the mess I had created, guiding me in putting down more things he thought the reader would want to read, I finally had something.

Andrew is an award-winning novelist who works as a full-time writer in the business and the literary world, but also suffers Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 – a type of muscular dystrophy. He combined his writing expertise and his experience with his own disobedient body to add to my perspective and has helped me beyond comprehension.

The result, after eight long years of effort, is Dissecting Wobbles – a book that takes you through my childhood and the feeling of always being “different”, scrawny and clumsy – to my mother’s search for answers (why isn’t Andrew like other children) and the diagnosis, followed by my weird, wild, rebellious teen years.

Andrew Marshall, dissecting wobbles, FA, Friedreich's ataxia, novel

To be honest, some of it was really difficult to write down. The struggle with not being like everybody else is a lifelong battle, while girls and relationships (lack thereof!) have also been massive obstacles, as were occasional tangles with depression, alcohol and weed. It’s not easy to talk to the world about any of these things, nor about moving into “adulthood” and trying to find a place in society.

Not to mention the position I dreaded all though my life: close to total incapacitation, which hasn’t been a breeze either. As hard as it’s been to be honest, there’s also been freedom involved in the process. Telling my story has given me a new way to relate to, and share with, other people.

Of course, Dissecting Wobbles will also tell you about the wonderful and incredibly important people in my life, and some of the awesome things I’ve been lucky enough to experience, including swimming with dolphins, tree-top zip lining, river rafting and skydiving.

The skydive was organised by the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa (MDFSA) as a fund-raising event, and I approached various people to sponsor my plummet to earth at terminal velocity. Raising cash to help people in the same boat as me felt phenomenal!

Because I live an exceptionally privileged life and have had opportunities many of my boatmates only dream about, once overheads for the book are covered 50 percent of the sales will go to the MDFSA. The rest will be invested in an idea that’s been incubating for a while, so watch this space!

Visit my website at www.dissectingwobbles.co.za to learn more about the novel, read a few chapters and buy the book. You can also buy it at most book stores, on Loot.com, Takealot.com or Amazon. Alternatively, email me directly on marshandyjames@gmail.com to place an order.

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1 Comment
  • Phenomenal read! He has a voice that is honest and powerful. You cannot help but be changed by this book!

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