Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Hazards of Writing, or "Thank God for Advil"

Writing can be a pain in the butt. Literally.
There's a misconception that writers lounge around all day in their pyjamas and that they rarely leave their computers unless they need caffeine or chocolate.
Whoops. That's actually true. But it doesn't mean that writing is without its hazards. Consider my writing-related injuries/conditions over the past year:
  • Muscle spasm below my right eye. This was so gross--a twitch just under my lash line that was as steady as a pulse and visible to anyone within a couple of feet of my face. It triggered constantly from the time I woke up in the morning till the time I went to sleep. For four weeks. It was enough to make me finally schedule a visit to my doctor. She claimed she'd never seen anything like it. "Are you straining your eyes?" she asked. Who me? It's not like I stare at my computer all day. I read for hours on end too. "How much caffeine do you drink?" Oh, I don't drink caffeine. Just mocha lattes and sweet tea. "Do you have a lot of stress?" Not really, but my heroine does. Do you have any idea how hard it is being a destitute companion in Regency England? "Are you getting enough sleep?" Sleep? . . . ha-ha-ha! She prescribed a muscle relaxant that knocked me out for 14 hours and when I woke up . . . wah-lah. No more creepy twitching.
  • Backache. Not the "Ooh, I think I overdid it at Pilates yesterday" kind of backache. I'm talking about the kind of pain that made me walk like Yoda. Only slower. Over Christmas break I was spending more time than usual in my chair, and one day when I got up (only because someone had the nerve to ask about dinner) I found I couldn't straighten my spine. This nonsense lasted about a week. While it didn't keep me in bed all day (drat!) it was rather inconvenient. When I splattered spaghetti sauce on the kitchen floor while cooking dinner, I had to carefully avoid stepping in it until someone more flexible than I came to clean it up.
  • Pink eye. This too, had the major ew factor. Brought on, once again, by too much computer time and too little pillow time, the whites of my eyes turned completely bloodshot. Not only did this scare small children, but it felt like my eyelids were made of sandpaper.

Did I ever once consider taking a break from writing? Of course not. Professional athletes play through the pain, and writers write through it. And I take lots of Advil.

So, what are your writing and/or computer related ailments? Am I the only one who doesn't know the meaning of moderation?


Keli Gwyn said...


I laughed my way through your post. Because of your humor, and not because of your writing-related pain, of course.

You poor thing. Eye troubles and an aching back are no fun. I hope your family was understanding and that no one dared suggest you spend less time writing. We know why we're suffering and don't need lectures; we just want sympathy. OK. Help with the chores would be nice too. :-)

My writing-related ailment is chronic dry eye. I'll wake up in the night unable to open my eyes until I squeeze them shut and recall a sad scene from one of my stories (or the last amount I shelled out at the grocery store) in an effort to bring on some tears. I saw an article called "Blinking" on this very condition in the March 2008 issue of the RWR, so I know I'm not alone.

My solution? Write less? No way. I just keep eye drops handy and think sad thoughts as needed.

Anne Barton said...

LOL, Keli. The grocery bill makes me want to cry too. Like a baby!

Anything having to do with eyes gives me the heebie-jeebies, and chronic dry eye sounds awful. I'm glad eye drops help though.

Selfishly, I'm also glad to hear you don't let a little thing like stuck-closed eye lids slow you down. (I can't wait to read more of ITSF!)