Writing, Pain & The Deep Connection

I haven’t written on my blog for a while, which I feel kind of shit about. Because I like to write, I feel better when I write. But I live, like most people do, in this state where I’m convinced everything I’m going to write is crap. That’s low self-esteem for you. Though it’s all kind of ridiculous because I’m always kind of impressed with how much better the end product is. I actually write pretty well!?! You do have to wonder whether this sweating over stuff actually makes me more conscious and careful about what I write. Maybe it makes me a better writer? But although it probably does go some way to making sure my writing is better than it could be, the overwhelming stress over it is really surplus to needs. Sometimes I even get a great, simple idea, just a few hundred words, but then worry over research I should do for it, and never get it done. Basically, as my sister always used to say to me, I shoot myself in the foot before I’ve even begun.

With all that mind I decided, with the passing of my 34th birthday, that I was going to change this whole outlook. Not only would I try to delve into more analytical film writing, I would finally push through and put to paper all the scripts in my head that I had never written a word of because I was convinced they would be bad. (or not bad, but they’d be errors, which I couldn’t fix properly, which would make them bad, but we’ll get back to that later). I would also try to write on my blog more, not because I want to deliver up a public service or something because I genuinely enjoy it. But then something happened…

Have you ever had sciatica? I had it really badly a few years ago, and for no good reason it decided to pop back up a couple of months ago. It is the worst pain. Basically (although I think there are a number of ways it can happen) the sacroiliac joint, which rests between your spine and hip (you have two, but my right side is always the problem) gets sort of stuck from too much sitting. This lack of movement ends up irritating the piriformis muscle, a muscle that runs through your usually rotating hip. This stiffness and pain travels down your leg, right through to your ankle. If you’re unlucky, in an effort to stabilise yourself, you will also irritate your iliotibial band, which runs from your hip to your knee. The basic result of all of this? It fucking hurts like hell!!! It feels like a team of people; someone is stabbing you in the back, another is running a knife down your leg, pulling your nerves through your foot, someone has given your knee a good kicking, and some cruel person is driving a tennis ball into your thigh muscle. It’s horrible, and exhausting, and I hate it.

This bout of sciatica bounded up just as I had decided to sit and write more, and yeah, you guessed it, sciatica is what you get when you sit down to much. This pain also came on the heels on a terrible case of infected eczema I had from February to about May time, it lasted that long because I had some sort of withdrawal symptoms to the steroid cream I was given.

My chiropractor has did her best with me but jumping on and off trains, and walking around for a fortnight didn’t help. She helped again, but still I’ve been in agony. Which has driven me to a realisation about myself, my mind, my pain…

I blame the pain I’ve been getting as of late for the fact that I haven’t been writing as much, I promise myself I’m definitely going to do yoga regularly after the pain is gone, I’m going to take better care of myself. I’m going to manage my time better. I also blame a lot on the medical condition I don’t talk about here, and how that has affected me over the years. But the thing is this, the only thing I have to blame for not getting things done now, or for medical conditions getting on top of me, is me. I’m the only one at fault. Which is kind of a miserable thing. I guess I’m owning up to letting my worries getting the better of me, procrastinating, and even just being lazy.

I found out a couple of days ago that I have finally got a job, a full time office job too. Which means I could positively engage with a future of more excuses, and totally get away with it. No one would expect me to do all the things I expect of myself. Writing, painting etc. I know that sounds stupid doesn’t it. ‘Expect of myself’? Not ‘what I want to do’? I should probably change my point of view on that. I don’t ‘expect’ these things of myself, I want to do them, but the exhaustion that surrounds them is just too much. By the way this exhaustion only occurs when I think about a project; I over think things. When I just sit down and write, or draw, or paint, it feels great. It feels like diving into a big beautiful cool sea. Maybe that’s kind of why I use the word ‘expect’, because I ‘expect’ myself to make myself feel good.

I’ve been sitting up for about twenty minutes now, writing this, and it feels pretty great (even if I’m getting ‘haven’t typed for a while’ achey arms). Which begs the question ‘why don’t I do it more?’. I should. There are no excuses. Really, none at all. There are all these little, lively monsters in my head. Some are just sguiggley doodles, some are proper pieces of writing that demand research, some are just ideas. And all this stuff? Which I just think will do wrong, never actually does! I’m a good writer. Editing articles or scripts, it doesn’t make them awkward or disjointed, it makes them better. Sometimes even just farting out ideas for entertainment are better than anything I’ve sweated over. Cooping up the little monsters isn’t helping matters at all. Freeing them is the thing to do, it makes me feel better. Stupid isn’t it, that not doing the things you want to do, makes you feel bad, so you don’t do them? Ridiculous even! But that’s me, a bit ridiculous.

I’m not the first person to draw a line between writing and real physical and mental pain. This isn’t just about sciatica and sitting at a computer. It’s about the excuses made to avoid writing. It’s about a deep held belief that I’m a bit of a lazy fuck-up. It’s about wanting to express myself but not having the confidence to do it. It’s about shutting up and getting down to it, or just shutting up and giving up completely. And I never want to do that.

Bloody excuses, eh? Ernest Shackleton had sciatica when he and his men rowed to South Georgia to save the rest of his crew. Sylvia Plath, with all her problems, would wake up and write poetry before her kids got up. And almost every great writer has doubted themselves and written seas of shit before working out what was right. Excuses are really, in of themselves, shitty, stupid things.

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