It’s been very quiet in my writing world since the early summer. I know. For an indie writer, this is a cardinal sin of promotion. You must constantly be engaging and building your audience. You must constantly write, share, be real but also be professional, positive, careful…
There’s a lot of “must” and “should” for writers. For me, the biggest “must” is one often overlooked: you must take care of yourself. In the simplest terms, that’s where I’ve been.
Author Maureen Johnson once described health troubles that sidelined her for some time as “having a neurology” and for lack of better terms, I spent the summer and early fall “having a neurology” of my own. I entered the emergency room one morning, having suffered from a violent migraine for four days. Aside from a three-week migraine in my teens, my headaches have never stretched beyond two days. Mine are also pretty moderate and infrequent.
What began as a concerned visit led to another stay and a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis. This, in turn, led to my neurology: behold the post-dural-puncture headache, or postural headache.
For the next 30 days, I was in and out of hospitals for testing, a blood patch and on bedrest. For five weeks to follow, I was on half days at work that would render me exhausted and nauseous. It has been nearly six months and I still have days where I can feel the pressure drop in my skull, hear the cerebrospinal fluid moving in my neck.
I share this for two reasons:
- My next novel was naturally delayed by all of this. Intended to be queried by early October, it is only now being formatted for query.
- This ordeal has given me a new perspective on life: on what matters, what doesn’t and what I will carry into my future writing
When your body betrays you, rendering you unable to care for yourself, let alone work or play, you have a great deal of time to think–more time than you would ever want. And while at first, the pain is so great that you think of little more than feeling better, you’ll eventually reach the plateau where you are not entirely sick, but still unwell.
I am a disabled woman and have been since my teens. But this was a whole new level of disability. I could not sit up. I could not use my computer for more than a few hours a day. I was so drained, my head pounding so badly, that I could not even scribble in a notebook or use voice recognition software. I could do nothing but think of everything I longed to do once more.
In these moments, I began to wonder why I’d delayed edits for WTZ, why I was putting off writing my next book, and the way I was allowing my day job to cause me unnecessary stress. I had let everything slip out of balance. My body, in response, vehemently hit the brakes and demanded a reset.
It sounds cliche as hell, but life really is too short. We don’t know how much time we have. And if my neurology has taught me anything, it’s that I need to treat every day as a Nanowrimo day. Make time for my passion. Write without fretting over how good or bad it is–that’s what editing is for. Edit with the same love and gusto that I draft with. Trust in the Muse to deliver.
In 2017, I’ll be looking to balance feeding my Muse with letting it spill onto the page. I’ll be surrounding myself in art when not consumed by my own. My wish to you is that whatever you do, whatever you love, you find the same balance. Find the things you love and make them your priority, even if only for ten minutes a week. Your heart and mind will thank you.
A musical love letter to you all… Farewell, 2016.