Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer, Personal]

[cancer|personal] Wind, the sucking thereof

Well, I have now successfully failed to write for almost a week. I wrote last Tuesday, wrapping “The Stars Do Not Lie” in first draft. I gave myself two days off to reset my brain into novel mode. Friday I worked on Endurance. Then my mom went into the hospital with chest pains. And my car got broken into. And I experienced a new low in lower GI control issues. Not to mention the usual daily travails of being on chemotherapy.

Guess what? When enough things go wrong, even I stop writing. Part of this is that I carry my stress in two places — lower GI (sound familiar) and through fatigue. Being very upset in a non-angry way often makes me sleepy. I believe this is a relic of my decade or so of clinical depression, as it’s essentially a retreat. In effect, stress makes me poop more and sleep more.

Give that my ground state these days is a level of fatigue comparable to a couple of sleepless nights in a row for someone in ordinary health, anything that adds to that sinks me to a degree of minimal focus and energy that’a very difficult to function at. All the motivation and psychotic persistence in the world doesn’t help if I can’t get it together enough to begin to write.

My writing fu has never been this defeated by circumstance, not in the ten years I’ve been working as a pro. I hesitate to call it writer’s block, in the sense that I’m not feeling the least bit blocked creatively. But the result is the same.

Just last night over dinner, I was telling that I wanted a week where nothing bad or stupid happens to me and the people around me. Then I got ‘s phone call that was back in the hospital. As it happens, today (April 22) is my mom’s birthday, and we were going to have a family party for her at Papa Haydn’s. Now I guess it’s Twinkies in the hospital ward. Second time we’ve had to cancel her party, too.

I know this isn’t about me. This is about my mother and her health. Just like Mother-of-the-Child’s recent hospitalization was about her health. (And that’s generated almost $30,000 worth of billing, roughly 10% of which has been assigned to my responsibility. Because, you know, my cash flow was getting too fat this year what with the cancer and all.) Just like ‘s foot injury was about her health. But I’m getting really tired of sitting in my own little crap hole watching crap rain down on the people who love and care about me.

Had a meltdown over this last night. took care of me, as a partner does. I am keenly aware of how much my calamitous life is stressing her, stressing , stressing , stressing everybody. Even, and especially me.

I write about this, as usual, to open a window inside the world of cancer. A lot of people never talk about it. And while chemo and its discontents are difficult and time-consuming, the lesson of late is another one: life goes on. People get in trouble, get back out of trouble. It’s not like my chemotherapy was some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card that enabled everyone around me to have six months of easy going, to spare me the stress of their misfortunes.

So me being upset and unhappy and crying for my mom cycling in and out of the cardiac ward is just as much a part of the cancer journey as the drug cocktails or the extreme fatigue or any of the other symptoms I discuss. This is a journey of the heart every bit as much as it is a journey of the body.

No one gets off this bus, except the hard way.

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