Creating Under Fire

I spend far too much time distracted by thoughts of fiber content and what pattern can best use up the stash of yarn I already own so I can justify buying more yarn. And my stash isn’t nearly as big as some people’s.

There was a post on a popular author’s (henceforth called PopAuth) blog some months ago – sort of a “nyah nyah” kind of post if I really think about it – that said “so and so is currently in radiation treatments and then he’s still working on his novel full-time, so if he can write, so can you!” Which is kind of a fallacy, and clearly spoken by someone who hasn’t the first idea what it’s like to go through radiation therapy, let alone while working full-time. The author in treatment (henceforth called AIT) was a) being treated for a head and neck cancer, which will have different results on the body than treatment for cancer of say, the colon, b) will likely have a different tolerance for treatment than someone else going through the very same thing (we all have a different tolerance/treatment intensity/length of treatment) and c) is just doing his full-time job like anyone else going through treatment who has to do the same. His upside is he works at home, which means lots of breaks, no doubt.

Sure, I didn’t work during my recent treatment. I couldn’t as I was in a city 4 hours away from home and there was a lot of travel time, plus, my treatment was frankly pretty damn intense. And thankfully was over in a week instead of 7 like the previous treatment (the one that didn’t work). But when I was in treatment for 7 weeks, I worked my full-time job as well. It wasn’t a picnic, but it wasn’t some major feat either. Now I don’t mean to diminish AIT’s struggle; he deserves kudos like any survivor. It just niggled me a bit that PopAuth clearly intended his message to be “all you people who think you don’t have time/energy to write can suck it.” Writing is a full-time job if you make a living doing it. So is ANY full-time job if it’s your living. I don’t see the difference.

Although… here’s another angle:

Being creative while under stress is not easy. Creating stories from whole cloth while your life is clearly in danger is really really not easy. People keep asking me if I have written anything lately. If it’s been a while since I spoke to them, well then I understand. But if it’s someone who’s in the know on my current state of health, I do have to take a breath before snapping at them, and then realize that they might not understand that writing has not happened because all I can think about when I go into that introspective creative space in my head is “OMG CANCER”. Writing to me is extremely introspective. Whatever I write, fictionally, comes from emotion. And my emotional state, lately, is frankly unstable. I mean, I think it’s fair to say that, right? Let’s not even talk about the effects on my head that the steroid treatment has had (Monday was my last dose, huzzah!). Case in point: the other day, I got into a shouting match with my husband over making eggs for breakfast. Eggs! So, no, not the most together girl, me.

So perhaps it’s saying something that AIT continued to produce his novel while undergoing treatment. And that what PopAuth was trying to get across was that if someone under HIS level of stress can do it, surely some of you lot can at least TRY without making excuses. Then again, I have read PopAuth’s blog for some time, and I still believe his approach was kinda of an asshole move. He frequently says things to get people wound up and while at first I found that endearing, over the last few months I find I don’t think it’s amusing anymore. It’s just page hits. Because the more people get wound up and comment, the more page views he gets.

Enough about that guy though. I have not been entirely uncreative. In fact, I feel like my creativity is simply manifesting elsewhere lately. Namely in fiber and tangible things made from it. A co-worker and I were discussing yesterday what an absolute JOY it is to complete a project – or a segment of a project – and hold it in your hands at the end of the day. To see the results of hours of crafting away and then in the end have something physical to show for it. So much of what we do these days is a bunch of electrons and light, that can disappear with a power surge. Blip and it’s gone. This seems to be at least part of what has been driving the recent arts & crafts revival over the last decade: this desire to have something tangible at the end of the day. And maybe for me, with all that’s been happening, I want something to show for all the hours I spend on things. Because life is short, and fragile. And I don’t wish to be embarrassed by what my creations might lack at the end of my life. I don’t want to regret the things I didn’t do. I have other thoughts about the nature of writing professionally, and embracing the term “amateur” as well, but I think I will save that for another day. Suffice to say, I have not given up on writing, but for the first time in years, I feel comfortable setting aside ideas of pursuing it as a career full-time, at least for now. Doing so has allowed me to relax about my current career, and all the things I’ve wanted to do with my time while I sat in front of a blank screen and beat myself up for not producing best sellers. For the first time in a long time, I am producing all sorts of physical, tangible creations, and it feels amazing.

Category(s): crafts, health, writing

Comments are closed.