This past month has not been as productive as I wanted it to be. I entered November in the middle of a two week cold (which I seem to get bi-annually when fall matures into winter and then when winter bows out for spring). The first week is always awful (clouded thoughts, no energy, complete inability to breathe without coughing), and the second is usually just congestion and sore throats. I was forced to spend some of my days off on sickness and sleep which seems to be per usual for everyone else. For me taking days off for illness somehow seems like I’m cheating the system.
Growing up with a doctor for a dad, I learned that sickness was not something to succumb to unless you were incapable of leaving your bed. You’d think that a doctor’s kid would be smarter about letting her body rest long enough for it to heal, but watching my dad tough out the worst of whatever he’d caught just gave me the impression that sickness shouldn’t slow down your work ethic, hence the two week lingering time of that cold.
My germs spread to my husband who was, for the most part, able to shake it off in a little under a week, but he also acknowledges his illness, lets his body rest, and takes it easy until he’s recovered. I usually refuse to acknowledge the sickness, blaming allergies or some random nonsense for my symptoms, until it’s too late. He’s the one who has to force feed me the Nyquil and remind me that the dishes really can be done tomorrow (even though in my healthy state this would have seemed obvious). In recovery I tend to get over the initial lack of energy, and pretend that I’m fully recovered, only to exhaust myself in an hour or two of catching up on things around the house.
The worst part about getting sick for so long is that it knocks me out of my writing groove. I had been so productive before I got sick. When I take a break for a few weeks, the weird little fears creep in my thoughts and make it harder to get back to writing.
I’ve heard writing compared to exercising. Any break you take from working out makes going back to the gym hard, and the longer the break is the harder it gets. You remember how easily you ran that mile/swam that lap/cycled up that imaginary hill, and now you have to do all the work to make it easy again. It’s just not fun.
Writing is the same, but instead of just dreading the process of ripping my muscles out of their lethargic stupor, I’m also dreading that I’ve somehow become the worst possible version of my writer-self.
Two weeks shouldn’t make me fear that I’ve lost my ability to be creative or that my plot is dreary or that I’m fooling myself with these characters and should give up entirely on my dream of finishing this book. But somehow, before I take those first steps back to my keyboard, those are the only thoughts I have. It’s not just hard to start writing again, it’s frightening. I’ve started up again, but November was itself a busy month, and so I didn’t really have the time or space to write the way I had been throughout October. Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, I have no real excuses to hold myself back. As of December third, I’ll have four full weeks to salvage what I can of my writing goals for the year. It’ll be hard. It’ll be arduous. But I’ve got to try.