A WRITER from Armadale has been shortlisted for a prestigious online writing award, after huge success writing about chronic illness, writes David Stewart
Kathleen Nicholls is a finalist for the UK Blog Awards, which is the most prominent creative award of its kind. The awards recognise bloggers from across Britain for work writing informative and entertaining articles read and appreciated by thousands.
The 34-year-old’s blog is about life with chronic illness – she has been diagnosed with both arthritis and Crohn’s disease: a long-term disease causing inflammation of the digestive system.
Life for Kathleen can be a mixture of exhaustion, dizziness, confusion, and pain. During a “flare-up”, people with Crohn’s can be in constant pain. There is also a psychological affect to the illness as people can be embarrassed to talk about issues involving the toilet. Kathleen’s humour online and in her books helps alleviate this understandable embarrassment in sufferers.
Kathleen was born at Bangour Hospital in Dechmont, in 1983, and she spent her childhood in nearby Armadale. She attended St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn before going to study art in Edinburgh.
Writing is a family trait; Kathleen’s brother Mark is a novelist. She can remember writing comics and nonsense verse throughout childhood and received a typewriter at nine years old from her parents.
Kathleen’s diagnosis of Crohn’s disease in 2011 was the impetus in her starting a blog that grew very quickly into a go-to resource for many with chronic illness and their families.
Publishers were impressed by Kathleen’s writing style and attitude. She gained a contract to write her first book “Go Your Crohn Way”. The book was an enormous success; the launch party being at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Kathleen holds reading as a great educational tool is important in her learning about living with chronic illness. Writing has helped her bring the wider world of chronic illness to greater attention. People affected by such diseases are less alone when they can read others’ advice, she believes.
“I’d never dreamed I’d get a book published”, says Kathleen, “but I caught the writing bug.
“Writing on my blog has been an invaluable tool in dealing with incurable illnesses. Adapting to such conditions can be very difficult and a creative outlet can be a lifeline.”
Feedback on the “Kath Fantastic” blog has been very positive. People tell Kathleen they find the writing a great guide and a spur to try and consider conditions in a more spirited light.
Kathleen says her main writing aim is always to help someone similar: “If it helps even one person, I’d be over the moon.”
Being considered for this award means Kathleen will be able to further her aims in “writing things that make people feel good.”
The award winner will be announced in April. To vote for Kathleen Nicholls at the UK Blog Award website: www.blogawardsuk.co.uk