Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But illness happens to all of us. (Writers aren’t invincible, contrary to popular belief.) The daily grind of poetic progress comes to a daily grinding halt. Be it due to the seasonal cold going around, or the full-blown flu, or food poisoning (I certainly hope not), we can’t be healthy 100% of the time. And when that happens, well…let’s just say it can really be a damper on your creativity, causing some unnecessary frustration.
As I write this, I’m perched atop a bar stool in a local coffeeshop. It’s a sunny spring day and the afternoon couldn’t be more promising. But my head is foggy from days of being suffocated by mucous, my extremities are exhausted from fatigue, I keep sneezing every three minutes, I’m mouth-breathing, my eyes are watering constantly…to any bystander I must look like I’m having a really bad day. But really, I’m just sick. And this is the first day I’ve been well enough to venture out of my house in the last week and attempt some writing. (Apologies if this blog post amounts to nothing but random yammering in the end. I’m unpredictable today! Weee! And this only proves that illness muffs up your writing routine, and you just gotta roll with the punches sometimes. — That was my wonky and weak thesis statement, professor, if you’re reading this…)
Survey says illness effects your ability to write 70% of the time, 100% of the time* and I’m feelin’ it hardcore today.
I have two Etsy orders I need to complete ASAP and two more to get started on. I have people to email back and people I need to just email in the first place. I have outstanding penpal letters and care packages that need mailing. I need to research some stuff for some other stuff and stuffness (the specifics fail me at the moment, I hope you don’t mind). I need to handwrite some thank you notes from my birthday last week (if my hands decide they’re capable of holding a pen…I’ll keep you posted). Etc, etc, etc, blahblah blahdeeblah…(For some reason, my sick brain thought you would like to read all of those useless details about my life…how silly of you, Brain…I have stricken them from the record!!)
I just have too much going on! I cannot afford to be sick, stupid Seasonal Cold Bug Thing. GO AWAY. You are not invited into my sinuses and lungs, thank you very much. My creativity is working overtime to break through the cobwebs that have formed between my synapses and my body keeps insisting that I don’t want to write–I want to sleep (my body is half correct). But the writer within me is kicking and screaming with impatience to just get over this horrid cold and get back to work! (I also tend to do this when I accidentally put too many irons in the fire and my schedule becomes unbearable to manage due to overwhelming busy-ness.) Which only makes me more sick. The more I fight illness and the fatigue and try to keep up with household chores and errands and writing and networking and poetry…the more energy I am sapping from my already-compromised body. The simple solution? (Moms know this answer. Moms always know best.) Lots of rest and lots of fluids. And I know this, too. Sheesh, I’ve been sick before. But I am so stubborn; I don’t want to be sick because I just don’t have the luxury of being sick. I so badly want to be creating poetry day in and day out that I resist stopping to recuperate! I push myself to my limits…but for what? So I can jot down some nonsensical poetry? Was it really worth it? …No. So nature and biology have their way with me, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it…other than accept it and just stop…(mouth)breathe…rest and recharge.
You see, as writers and poets, there comes that point where you realize you just can’t do it all. Illness or scheduling or job or activities or school or commitments or whatever it is that is asking you to put writing on hold is sometimes absolutely right. Writing poetry or prose is always our favorite thing to do, but sometimes Life has other plans for us, and we just have to deal with reality. And in moments like these, the reality is that it is physically and mentally and emotionally impossible to keep going like this. Sure, I’m sick today, but I don’t think illness is the only circumstance that forces us to halt our process and reevaluate our go-go-go mentality. Creatives are always creating; it’s just who we are! It sure is a beautiful thing, but there’s no sense in running yourself into the ground for the sake of art, especially if you’re doing it just to spite some petty cold or deadline. Newp. Time to set it down and take care of yourself. Don’t worry, it will be there waiting just where you left it when you come back.
With that, I’m calling it quits today. The hubs just yelled at me (lovingly) on the phone to go home and rest and to just STOP. He’s right. I know he is. So I leave you with the reminder that it is perfectly okay to take a break and to take care of you. Because, really, you’re all you have. If your body and/or mind are not healthy, then your art suffers…and no one wants that.
*That’s not a real survey. I made those figures up in my mucous-covered spaghetti brain.
The poem below was created during another time of illness…my mind works differently when hazy, and it’s fun to see what kind of nonsense I come up with for poetry. 🙂 Thanks for reading my word vomit today!