Those who check out my bike blog might remember the injury I dealt myself trying to save the planet (and a little rental car cash) HERE.
Ended up at a doc-in-the-box, getting pills prescribed for the pain. Looked on the label and saw that they were sedatives that might make me, well, sedate.
The first day, I learned the power of the word ‘might’. I hung on my desk for about three hours before limping home to crash into bed. So tired.
The day following, I took my pills like a good little boy and went to work. All morning I was like a machine – a machine without batteries, flywheels and a rusted starter. I couldn’t keep those numbers moving. I tried to clean up some of our backfill paperwork and ended up stalling three times. I was really foggy.
But the chilling moment came at lunch. Usually I’ll have a seat by the pond and work on the latest story, novel, edit or pity-rip (i.e. critique of someone else’s writing). Today I was planning on working on a short story I might post up to an anthology in a month or so.
So I sat out by the pond, opened the tinytop, and looked at the screen.
The muse wouldn’t come out and play.
Sometimes she’s a cranky bitch, one that needs jump-starting. I’ll just start reading what I’ve written before and suddenly I know where I’m going. Ignition! Witty phrasing and off-key analogies are mine to pluck and use. I’ll find myself nodding as clever shit just happens, there on the screen. If you’re a writer, you’ll know the moment where words flow and plot-thoughts leap ahead like roadbed graders a hundred miles out from the railhead. So neat and so artistic and so moving. It’s why I write, all for that bliss-state of creativity.
But on this day, nothing. I couldn’t even focus on my prior writings. I couldn’t even seem to recognize what I’d been doing before. I’ve seen people who just can’t write – you ask them to come up with something creative and they just look at you. And I’ve always felt pity for them. But now, that feeling was horror.
Jeez, like, what if it didn’t come back? That part of me I’d always accepted as a strength, my natural-18 creativity, was gone. I didn’t get looks or athletics or personality or anything else. It was my creativity that was mine. And with a single small pill, it had vanished.
I went back to my desk in a state of funk. I simply couldn’t remember how I wrote stories. That synergy of plot-action-words wouldn’t kickstart. During the afternoon I tried basic writing drills (like describing something on my desk in one word, or generating a backstory for the next person passing my cube) and none of it sparked. I got home, took a long nap, and since my leg was no longer hurting (aching, but not hurting) I gave the pills a miss.
Later that evening I opened my tinytop to check my virus settings and ended up browsing my latest story. Saw a place I could tighten and did, pulling out a devil-word “that” and reading the remake over – much smoother. And then it hit me that the muse was back. I could write again. Like Scrooge on Christmas morning, I knocked out a couple of paragraphs just for the joy of it. Looked critically at one of them and swapped some sentences around so the meaning would build in a more logical sequence. Caught a double-use of a word. All those things I’d known, that heady enthusiastic resourcefulness, it was back.
Those pills. Those pills. I find myself frowning when I think of them. Imagine there was a pill that would make you blind, or paralyzed, or mute for twelve hours. Would you take it?
I’m not taking mine. Not even if it hurts.
Well, not unless it hurts bad.