Playing with pain

I noticed about myself and others years ago that humans tack from mood to mood. This was codified for me recently by a member of my writing posse. “People spend a lot of time trying to fight off bad moods,” John said, or words to that effect.

Writers, and perhaps any independent worker, become keenly aware at times of the need to manage themselves—to deal with their fluctuating feelings and inevitable setbacks. Two and a half weeks ago I was laid low by strep throat, which got me sicker than I’d been in decades. And I lost that writing time. (I had been on a roll. Always, in retrospect, you were doing great in comparison to where you now find yourself. It’s just like going back to your exercise program after a layoff and discovering, yet again, that you had been doing better than you thought.)

I tried to work during my acute illness and lingering recovery, with poor results. Lying around, thinking about what I needed to do, led me to consider the entire project, which produced feelings of despair. I was aware of how much energy the whole thing had taken, and takes. I had no energy. This spurred a feeling of panic over the project’s impossibility.

Don’t think about it, I told myself. Stop. You are not rational. This is a temporary problem.

It was, but felt otherwise. To paraphrase Tina Turner, What’s logic got to do with it?

And even as I have recovered enough to start taking baby steps again, I’ve dealt with the always-annoying problem of resuming. That is, unless I write every day, or almost, I must fight harder to reenter the work. The stubborn (or resentful of sloth) subconscious has stopped helping, leaving me stranded for X many days with my limited conscious mind.

So, near the end of the fourth version of my memoir, I begin again. Trying, like always, to get in a groove. And stay there.


Filed under emotion, MY LIFE, working method

10 responses to “Playing with pain

  1. theexile

    I think taking any time off from writing for whatever reasons always produces anxiety of some sort. And yet it probably does good to rest sometimes, give the brains and imagination time to recuperate, especially after an illness.

    I remember going to a workshop on freelance writing given by writer Mike Cox who advised: Work hard, play hard. I think Hemingway once gave the same advice.

  2. Wow, can I relate to this blog post. We have endured a long winter of strange and long-lasting viruses that have interrupted my (already limited) writing time so much. It’s hard to be sick and have all that unusable time on your hands, I hear you. And, you’re right, it’s hard to get back to it. I find being sick leaves me with a mental blank slate: Where was I? On the other hand, sometimes that forced break can be good for what you can then see in your writing, or at the very least for the Zen attitude one has to cultivate about being sick. 🙂

  3. What I loved most about what you wrote was the honesty. Your writing is going to be just fine!

  4. There are links off my About page to a number of essays around the web and on Scribd.

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