by Lillian Csernica on February 14, 2023
Hello, folks. I hope you are all safe and well. I’ve been doing my best to keep on keeping on.
One of the biggest challenges a writer can face is the problem of chronic pain. Back in the days when I was younger and stronger, I was in a car accident that damaged my left knee. I can still walk, thank God, but time has taken its toll. My right knee has been taking up the slack ever since the accident. The result is Degenerative Joint Disorder in both knees.
Chronic pain is exhausting. It sucks away all energy and the power to concentrate. It makes sleep difficult and medication necessary. I know that my writing is different now than it was when I first began selling my work and seeing it published. That is so frustrating. If not for the pain, maybe I could write more and write better. Maybe I could endure the endless labor of online self-promotion more successfully. I am a mother of two boys, so what little time and energy I have to write is precious to me. Chronic pain robs me of that.
And yet…. The need to write continues. The desire to publish continues. Compulsive behavior? Maybe, but for me it’s a good thing. On the bad days when I just don’t have it in me to do the work, I ask myself, “How bad do you want this?” Days go by so fast now, running into months and years. There is no “later.” There is no “tomorrow.” If I don’t get something done right now, today, when will I get it done? It’s so hard. When I can’t stand up, when I can’t walk across the room, it seems impossible.
That’s when doing it matters the most.
Yes, there are times when I cut myself some slack and accomplish whatever I can actually manage to do that day. There are times when I look at my To Do list and just start laughing. As Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I interpret that statement not as knowing what you can’t do, but knowing how much or how little you can do on that particular day. It’s the habit of making the effort that matters. If I don’t bother to make the effort, it gets easier and easier to just leave the work for some other day.
Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing. I love having written.” That sums it up. The labor of writing feels dreadful, but the satisfaction of knowing you did the work is immense. My favorite unit of writing is a twenty minute free write. Keep that pen moving. Just get the words down. The great part about free writes is the way I can just keep plowing forward, and not stop to think until the timer goes off. Then I get to bask in the pleasure of having written.
In the past week I sent three short stories out to market. Write, edit, submit. Rinse and repeat. Yes, my body aches and my mind get worn out, but I won’t give up. Each moment of success adds to all the ones that have come before it.
2 responses to “Staying The Course”
Thank you for speaking to the struggles of chronic pain. It can be so isolating among peers or trying to function in the wider world. I have also found that establishing a support network can be daunting, exhausting, a merry-go-round of explaining and reexplaining yourself.
But it is so important to celebrate success and victories, so congratulations on submitting not just one but three stories!
You’re welcome, and thank you for speaking up. The more we have an open dialogue, the more we chase off the stigma.