Saturday, January 10, 2009

Writing through the Pain

By Keith Fisher

Back in the early 1990’s I got involved in the Lower Your Fat Thermostat program. It did, and still does make sense. If you want to lose the fat on your body, you must convince your body that it should be smaller.

As part of the program, I learn to study nutrition labels, limit my meals to low fat, no sugar, no salt, and no refined carbohydrates. Coupled with the diet, was a regiment of exercise. I re-learned to ride a bike, stationary and ten-speed. I walked, and tried to run. I got out into my beloved mountains.

The program worked. I was healthier, and thinner than I had been in years. Buying clothes off the rack in a regular department store was a thrill. Then, while in a rush to go to the automatic teller one day, I stepped out of the car into a rainstorm wearing spongy-soled flip-flops. They soaked up the water—I stepped onto a tile floor and my feet went out from under me. I knew I had injured myself but I tried to ignore the pain in my shoulder. I didn’t go to the doctor, and I couldn’t ride my bikes. The shock transmitted to my shoulder from the handlebars was unbearable. I began to slack off. Then, Christmas came and I cheated. Just one chocolate covered Macadamia Nut couldn’t hurt, could it?

About that time, I went through a very stressful time at work. Attacks against me were frequent and I slipped into my old self.

Recently, I have been experiencing a stressful time. I don’t want to elaborate because it’s personal, but I noticed a decrease in my writing. Other than the blogs I am obligated to write, I have been slacking off. I sit in front of the computer for brief periods and check email.

When I was on the low fat program, I felt wonderful. When I am writing, especially plotting, I feel a release of creative energy that excites and delights me. Why do I let problems defeat me?
The fall of my diet program began when I injured my shoulder. It culminated in giving into the stresses of life. I often kick myself for not getting medical help but more than that, for not keeping up my exercise. I should’ve walked more until my shoulder healed.

My writing, as a friend of mine said, "Is life." It’s what I have chosen to do. I may not be very good at it, but I find joy in putting stories together. I find release in getting my point across in a blog or article. I cannot let it fall by the wayside. I cannot give in to discouragement. I must toe the line and continue to fight the battle of word placement and arguing with characters.

I sat down yesterday, determined to write something other than my blog. I pulled up a new story I’ve been plotting. At first, I edited (a task I’m not fond of). Then, I got pulled into the story. I found the world I’d created and continued my journey. It only lasted for the brief moment of an hour, and I had to go, but it felt wonderful.

I learned that I must keep to my task. Even if all around me is falling apart. I cannot allow my concerns to take over my life, the way my shoulder injury changed it. And you know? Writing, especially plotting, is like a shot of morphine against the pain of a broken body. What I write can sooth my stress with the balm of creative release. I must write through the pain.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week


Annette Lyon said...

This is so true; I can tell when I haven't been writing regularly--and so can my family. It keep me level and more me, able to handle stresses better. Thanks for the reminder not to abandon it when things get rough.

Jennifer said...

Don't forget another very important factor in all this. Even if you do completely fall off the wagon - even for a long time, you can always come back, and you'll be starting out ahead of where you were before.

I started doing a program called Body-for-Life almost two years ago. When I started, I could fun 1.4 miles in 20 minutes, but it was a full-out effort to do it, and I felt like I couldn't get enough air. At times, I had to slow down because I felt like I was going to pass out. The program also involves weight training, and in the beginning, I was really weak. For example, doing shoulder presses with even 2 lbs in each hand was a real strain.

I did the program for about 60 days before a major personal trauma stopped me in my tracks. I didn't exercise or worry about my diet for months.

At the end of that 60 days, I could lift quite a bit more weight than I'd started at. I could also run about 1.8 miles in 20 minutes. I could lift 10 lbs in each hand on my shoulder presses.

When I picked up back up months later, I weighed just as much as I had when I first started the first time. So I thought I was back to square one. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could still run about 1.7 miles in 20 minutes, and I wasn't dizzy like I had been 2 years ago. I could lift 7-8 lbs on shoulder presses. And when I took my measurements, I found that I actually was several inches smaller around my waist than I had been, despite the fact that I weighed the same, because I had more muscle mass.

And with writing, it's still the same. I actually took a 2-year break from writing at one point. And there are times when I get discouraged and don't write anything for several months. But when I pick it back up again, I'm not at square one. I still have most of the skills and knowledge I had when I quit. And everything I wrote is still there, waiting to be finished.

Sorry this is so long. But I just wanted to encourage you not to feel too bad about your lapses. It's great to have a determination not to let setbacks or roadblocks stop your progress. But it's also important to remember than when they do, you can always start again.

Jennifer said...

I read through my comment again and realized I wrote "fun" instead of "run." Trust me, it was NOT FUN! LOL

LexiconLuvr said...

I mention this often, but I just love your posts Keith!
Your honesty, wit, and determination resonate deeply with me.
I have been through similar things, physically and on the path of writing. Don't beat yourself up. I'm glad to hear that you rediscovered an old plot and found new delight in it. Keep writing, especially for people like me who thrive on your posts.

Kim Thompson said...

Hang in there, Keith. The tough times will pass. In my experience, tough times bring out some deep meaningful writing. I'm sure when you are through, you'll look back on this time and see some of the best writing you have ever produced!