Tuesday, May 31, 2011

writing and pain

I haven’t mentioned this before on this blog, but everybody who knows me knows this already. I suffer from chronic pain. In my shoulder and neck, and when it is particularly bad in my back and hands as well as with headaches. It’s something I manage. Mostly quite well since I got over the worst hurdles of it. But there are bad days, like with everything. Today’s not a great one. But it’s been so much worse.

This has a lot to do with my writing. When it was very bad, bad in my hands, I had no idea how I would be able to write while I had this condition. I hate to go all 80’s movie montage on you, but it ended up being the best thing for my writing. I mean, no the pain sucked. Sucks. But I guess it reminded me that this writing thing was damn important, and I wasn’t about to roll over and give up just because things had gotten tougher. I put aside half an hour a week to write something – anything. It didn’t matter, as long as I just did it. It took a while, and I didn’t push it when it was bad. That would have been stupid. A half hour was a half hour. But as I got steadily better, I wrote a couple more times a week. It doesn’t matter that most of what I wrote at that time was rubbish, or something I haven’t even used. It kept me writing. Months later I ended up starting and finishing several short stories. Eventually I started the novel that I have just finished. Oddly, having to limit myself to that small amount of time helped me focus more when I did write. It made me treasure it too. It wasn’t a thing I HAD to do, it was something I GOT to do. That I was lucky to do weekly. It also helped create a routine for me, or at least got me used to having a writing routine. And I had to give up handwriting full drafts in notebooks, because it honestly hurt too much. It’s hard to remember now, how upset that made me. How it made me cry and feel powerless. I take it as a given that I do the bulk of my work on a computer now. But at the time, I wasn’t used to using them for first drafts.
I guess all of the above shows how resilient people can be, when we know we want something. The pain is still something I manage, but it’s just one part of me now. Not the central focus.

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