I’ve recently had a horrifying experience. One that has, however, confirmed in me that my true passion and avocation is writing. Sorry if this post is kind of a downer…
We writers all have our doubts, even writers like Chuck Wendig, great and wonderful and entertaining and creative and (are you listening, Chuck?) established and PAID writers. We all have those days when everything we put our hands to is drek. Horrible, awful, meandering, pointless drivel. Days when we’re sure no-one in the world would read more than the first two words before their eyes go up in flames while they’re screaming for the brain bleach.
Then there are days when The Muse, whichever one chooses to patronize us, comes up and lays the smackdown on us and the Magic happens. All those words, all smooth and sleek or broken and glittering like shards of glass, all those words that somehow on any other day never in a million YEARS could we have said them in just that way.
Those are the days I live for, as I’ve said in a previous post. Those are the days that make it all worthwhile, everything, the pain I’ve been through, the heartache, the anger. Those are the days when I know that all of that went into that one, beautiful, perfect piece of beauty. And that’s okay.
Life hasn’t been fun recently. I lost my job almost five years ago, and haven’t worked (for pay) since. Can’t find a job. Running out of money fast now. (Don’t think about that. It will all work out, it WILL.)
In fact, it hasn’t been fun since—yes, really—the turn of the century. Isn’t that the oddest phrase to use? True, though. 2001 was 9/11. My home town. People I had worked with, or at least who worked for the same company I did.
2003 my Mother died of Alzheimer’s. The scariest disease of all the scary diseases in all the universe, because someone who was smart and witty and articulate—is not. Not ever again, never.
2005 I lost almost everything I owned in a house fire. (I won, though. My cats were inside, and they survived, every one.)
2006, after finally getting everything back in the house, (though not unpacked yet, no, of course not) we had a freak rainstorm that flooded the room where—yes, you guessed it—the stuff was stored. There’s the crime, there—the heaviest stuff, of course, was on the bottom. That would be the BOOKS. Gone. Mulch and mildew.
Then, health problem after health problem. Hammer blow after hammer blow.
November, 2012: Two car accidents, the second totaled both cars (not my fault!). Then, NaNoWriMo. I won, in spite of spending a week searching for a new car instead of writing. I won! What a high that was! By the gods, I could beat anything!
December 2012: Don’t ever say that you can beat anything, it tempts Fate too much. A week in the hospital with blood clots in my lungs. No job, no insurance. But I had my laptop computer, and by the gods I was going to write, dammit! NOTHING was going to stop me.
2013: More of the same old. Dad died in late October, but we couldn’t have the funeral until December, my brother couldn’t get her to Florida from Montana. I was too stunned to even understand why.
2014: one of my oldest friends went into the hospital after a fall, then into a rehab for physical therapy. She died three days later, very suddenly, of probably a massive stroke. I really mean very suddenly: I was there. She looked up in the middle of the conversation, said “Oh, no!” and fell over. Then: utter chaos. EMTs, doctors, nurses, machines, ambulance—she was already gone. She was gone before she fell. I saw her go.
2015: the last damn straw. After the fire in ’04, I and my cats went to stay with a friend while the idiots who were rehabbing my house did their thing (For 11 months!) One of my cats romanced one of his cats, and pregnancy ensued. Fortunately, only one kitten. She was my affirmation of life, so that’s what I named her: Ankhet. Egyptian for “a living female creature.” In one week she went from being an attitudinal fussbudget to an apathetic ball of fur in the bathtub. Kidney failure, the vet said. There were things they could do—but why? To prolong her life for another few weeks, with no quality? I had to let her go. I had my beautiful furbaby put to sleep.
Now, I don’t know what the hell it is about my doctor, but if I go see her any time I’m stressed, I burst into tears the second she comes in the room. Nobody else gets that response from me, just her. Enough is enough, she says, I want you on antidepressants. I don’t want them, I said. I’ve lived with someone who was clinically depressed. I had long-term friendships with two other ones. I know what it is, I know what it looks like, I know what it feels like, and that’s not what’s happening here. I’m stressed, and I’m grieving. That’s not depression. (Trust me, it isn’t!)
Okay, fine, she says. Then you’re going on anti-anxiety meds. Okay, fine, I said. I’ll try it. She calls it in, I pick it up.
Remember when I said it was the last straw? Back there, two paragraphs. Whoa, was I wrong! A couple of days into it, we noticed that I didn’t “fizz” so much while driving. Idiot cuts me off? Okay, I saw it coming. No reason to fuss. Moron makes a left turn from the right lane? No problem. I have decent reflexes. Hey, I’ve mellowed out! This is good, right? But I was clenching my jaw all the time. Awake and asleep.
Nearly a month into it, I realized something. Two somethings, really. First, that I was having real trouble finding words. Long, frustrating pauses while I tried to dig the damned thing out and finish my sentence. My friends said, yeah, we noticed that. What the hell is that?. And then, I suddenly realized—in nearly a month I had written not. One. Damned. Word.
You all are reading this, right? You came here to read this stuff because you’re writers, and you liked some of the stuff I wrote before. And I had not been able to concentrate long enough to string two words together on paper. Think how I felt when I realized that!
You don’t want to see me mad. The Incredible Hulk got nothin’ on me. I got mad.
NOT. FUCKING. HAPPENING!
You are NOT taking away the most important thing in my life, the one thing that makes me ME.
I picked up the phone and called my doctor and said I quit. I’m done. She didn’t want me to stop, but I ‘splained it to her in words of one syllable or less. Not gonna happen.
Okay, fine. That was about a week and a half ago now. As you can see, I can string sentences together in a fairly coherent manner. It took almost a week. I’m now on a different medication (3 days) and my friends are watching out for me this time (not that they weren’t before, just that they couldn’t figure out what was going on the first time). And if this new stuff FUBARs, I’m over it. I have another alternative I’ll look into. We’ll see.
But like I said—if I had had ANY doubts at all about whether this writing thing was for me? No doubts at all, now. There is nothing more important to me than writing. Well, at least, as far as things that I DO. The cats are still more important, they depend on me, and my friends are right up there, but my friends are generally capable of taking care of themselves for the most part. If they call, I’ll come a-runnin’. Drop what I’m doing and go. But that’s a momentary thing. From now on, NOTHING gets between me and my writing.
No power in the ‘verse can stop me.
Not even me.