Birthday Musings: In Sickness And In Health

When I was young, I read an interview where Stephen King said this:

I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. I told them that because if you agree to an interview you have to say something, and it plays better if it’s something at least half-clever. Also, I didn’t want to sound like a workaholic dweeb (just a workaholic, I guess). The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day, workaholic dweeb or not. That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday.

And I thought that sounded very badass.  A Real Writer wrote every day, hauling that laptop down to the coffee shop as some sort of show of how Hardcore you were.  A Real Writer was always cranking out new words because that’s how you wrote, like, seventy novels a year.  A Real Writer mashed keys.

So when I was young, I set out to write on My Birthday.  The most special day of the year.

Because writing was special.

And today is my birthday, and it’s not very special at all. I am laid up with an ear infection.  I got up at 9:45, went to the doctor for ninety minutes, then came back and slept until 2:30.  I am sapped with grief after Rebecca’s death, and I am sapped with energy with the own roiling mass of angry flesh throbbing inside my ear, and I have just asked my good friend Angie – not that I want to – whether she wants to reconsider coming down for the weekend, since I don’t know if I’ll be up.

I will also write.

Writing is not special.

I write every day, now, and most days I don’t go, “Oh, what inspiration will I unwrap from this golden-foil package hidden within my mind?”  I remember back to my old days, writing only when I was truly In The Zone, when I had a great idea that just burned within me to be unleashed, going fallow for weeks at a time and then cranking out several short stories in a feverish day.

And that process works for some people, don’t get me wrong.

But I write when I’m sick.  I write when I’m tired.  I write when I don’t have time.  I write when I’m uninspired.  I write when I have no good ideas.  I write when I have no hope that this story will ever be any good.  I write when I hate myself.  I write when I’ve failed.

No matter what happens in my life, I sit down, and I write.  The day after Rebecca’s death?  I wrote.  Three weeks after they cracked open my chest to operate on my heart?  A few months ago, I found a flashfic that I’d totally forgotten about, which I’d written deep in Ativan haze, over what turned out to be the course of a couple of days.  Because I write.

And it’s not magic.  It’s not badass.  It’s just what I do, relentless as stone, and…

That is magic.

The magic is a slow process, you don’t see it forming.  It’s a grim procession, knowing that no matter what happens, you must make the words.  But those words then come from every part of you.

Back when I wrote only when I was inspired, I wrote only of a manic energy.  Now I write from all colors of my spectrum – from despair, from exhaustion, from strength, from weakness.  I write from more creative places, because if I am coming up with bad idea after bad idea, then I will begin to think of things I never would have thought of had it been easy.  I write from more tones, because if I write in joy and edit in despair then I have not one me, but two mes looking over my words, and I am wiser in all my moods than in one.

And I work miracles.

I write things and move people in ways I never could have before, when I gave only the shiniest parts of me to my book.

And I am exhausted, now.  My ear throbs, my heart aches.  But after I finish this, I will write on my birthday.  Because this day is not special, and writing is not special, and me writing today is not special.

What I write is special.  And all things serve the beam.

2 Comments

  1. Jax
    Jul 4, 2014

    <3

    This may be the most useful thing on writing for me I've ever seen. The only time I don't do some sort of writing/editing now is if I am so depressed I no longer have tones. And I haven't felt that way in quite some time.

  2. Lexica
    Jul 7, 2014

    Back when I wrote only when I was inspired, I wrote only of a manic energy. Now I write from all colors of my spectrum – from despair, from exhaustion, from strength, from weakness. I write from more creative places, because if I am coming up with bad idea after bad idea, then I will begin to think of things I never would have thought of had it been easy. I write from more tones, because if I write in joy and edit in despair then I have not one me, but two mes looking over my words, and I am wiser in all my moods than in one.

    This struck me and reminds me of something Zen teacher Cheri Huber said. Misquoted from memory, she said the problem with keeping a journal is that because usually one either writes at the same time each day, or when inspiration strikes, it’s almost always the same person — the same aspect(s) of the personality — that show up to do the journaling, so some things get written about again and again and again while others never get any attention.

    Hope you feel better soon anyway, though. Being ill is no fun.

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