I’m sitting here, trying to work up the courage to write. It’s just Reluctant Godmother #2; certainly not scary-hard (though it is my first sequel, and that gives me mental discomfort). I’ve done my plotting work, so even though this particular scene is kind of up-in-the-air still, I know where I am and where I’m going. I wrote last week, and everything worked perfectly.
Yet here I sit, scared to start again. I can’t even make myself click over to Scrivener to look at the file. My stomach feels like river rapids – churning fast and chaotic around hard knots. My neck is tight. My shoulders already ache, partially from physical therapy yesterday and partially because I’m not on the right level with my desk. I’ve already added more air to the yoga ball that is my chair six times and I don’t want to keep fighting with it. I don’t want to fight with anything right now, when all my attention is taken by the fear.
What if it happens again?
I was sitting here three and a half months ago when I got light-headed and felt like I was going to pass out. Here, at this computer, in this corner, on this ball. For two weeks, every time I tried to write, the same thing happened. And then I came down with something that resembled a month-long stomach bug, and for which I still have no answers. For three months, I’ve seen doctor after doctor. Visited the ER more times than I can remember. Fought through raging torrents of anxiety and panic attacks as I felt like I was coming apart at the mental/emotional/physical seams. I let them run test after test and take vial after vial of blood.
I’m anemic now. Vitamin D deficient. I’m staring down future thyroid removal, possible problems getting pregnant when I want to, and yesterday they told me my blood pressure issues have caused my heart to start growing too thick. Important things to know, absolutely. I’m 36, which feels like too young for all that, but is also young enough to do something about it. To get out in front of it. I’m armed with newfound resilience, knowledge, and an understanding of my own weaknesses I didn’t have before.
But it all started here, on this ball, writing this story.
I don’t want to go through it again. I’m tensing against that light-headedness and the stomach pains that came after it before I even open the file.
How can I be a writer if I can’t write?
That question has plagued me for three months. The self-doubt that came with it was crushing. Enough to give up my goals. To cast aside the decade-plus of working toward them. It doesn’t matter how much willpower, dedication, or tenacity I summon up if my body just can’t do it. My bank account is empty, so there’s no making up for it with a new desk, chair, or some other contraption. The only resources I have at my disposal are contained in the same 10×10 room I’ve barely left these long, exhausting three months.
Still, I fought it. I sent the beginning of my side project to the muse it belongs to. That was terrifying in a completely different way–not least because I hadn’t ever actually told him he was my muse. Putting that envelope in the mail was a huge deal. I wish I could say I thrummed with fiery courage coursing through my veins…but I can’t. Instead, I spent the next three days feeling vaguely queasy and the size of Thumbelina.
And then one day, I was too weary to keep fighting. For three weeks, I questioned everything. Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to keep chasing something that causes me so much anxiety? Do I want to sit at the keys, day after day, doing the same thing for the same ineffectual purpose, losing a little bit more of my confidence and self-belief with every book release? Did I want to figure out how to be able to sit there that long at all? I let go of all the intentions, all the hopes, all the desires. I really didn’t know if I was going to pick them up again. I still don’t.
But here I am again, trying.
Showing up at the keys.
Terrified, but here. Again.
Because that is something I’m coming to understand about writers. Possibly about all artists in general…
We are like phoenixes. We burn, bright and shining, until we burn ourselves out. Maybe from working too hard or trying too long. Maybe from getting ahead of ourselves. Maybe from dreaming too big or putting too much of ourselves into our works. We flame out.
But those who believe, those with the courage and the desire and the need, brush off the ashes and try again.
I don’t know when I will finish RG2. Or how I’ll manage it. I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do with the limp strings of a career that’s never been fruitful.
But I do know that I’m here, sitting on this ball, writing this post.
No light-headedness. No stomach pains.
And for today, that’s enough.