The damaged brain: the OTHER writer’s block

A volleyball alone on the beach. Words: Will I know when the game is over? Or will my brain just slip away. Alicia Butcher EhrhardtOVER THREE WEEKS WITH NO REAL WRITING IS SCARY

I live with a major fear, that my damaged brain, so far able to eke out a couple of hours on a good day for being creative and writing fiction, will some day become unusable for this purpose.

Add aging decline to the damage sustained from illness or trauma, with the inevitability of death at the far end of the descent, and the conclusion is inescapable: one of these days I will write my last, whether I know it at the time or not, and I won’t be able to cajole the neurons into working for me ever again.

This happens to Alzheimer’s patients, such as novelist Iris Murdoch. One day, after not much work, the pen is put down – and never taken up again.

Or a stressful interlude may divert the writer for a while to other matters, and the synapses break down in the interval – and writing is never resumed.

What will the end be like and when will it come?

I don’t fear it so much if I don’t notice it, though I fear greatly the depredations dementia perpetrates on its victims, including the lucid interludes which come and go, with the old desires undimmed.

What I fear is what happens every time I take an enforced break – taxes used to do it to me, preparing for/going on/recovering from vacation does it now every time – of not having my good time available to write with regularly because said good time is required for more pressing matters which I have decided to allow/have forced on me.

This vacation, which ended last Sunday, Oct. 9, with a long day of travel, has been followed by an extraordinarily non-productive week. Unproductive of fiction, though I’ve written several blog posts.

Because I’ve sat myself down at the computer most of every day to write fiction. And it isn’t coming out because I’m not having my good time. It isn’t happening.

Interruptions are harder for me, and take longer to come back from

What I’m having a lot of is interruptions. Hubby is doing taxes, belatedly, for NJ – and has decided to investigate various long-overdue details from the years when I was doing them because he was working – and ‘needs’ things, and he needs them now so he can move forward with his plans, and he doesn’t know what he will need ahead of time so I can locate them the night before, and he can’t divert his attention to something else because whatever it is is on the critical path. One or two of these diversions, which cost people in general almost a half hour each to recover from, and me much longer, and that day is dead to fiction. Yes, I’m that fragile.

Daughter is moving out, coming and going at random, requiring something very small at times – where are the decongestants? Or rather where is the box where I usually find decongestants? Which requires that I stop what I’m doing, important or not, and find them in the suitcase we took on vacation, which I meant to return to the box on the floor which will then go back to its natural place in the bathroom closet – where she would have found the decongestants without bothering me, had I made it that far on unpacking.

A friend who moved precipitously to Florida, without me having a chance to take her out to lunch and talk with, calls. We spend an hour on the phone, and I will take her out to lunch when she comes back to get the house ready for putting on the market – we’ve been friends thirty years – and I want to talk to her. Up until recently, she was right across the street – and we rarely found time to talk because I can’t easily walk over there, and she has grandchildren, and there was always tomorrow – only now there isn’t.

This Saturday started with the leaf-blowing neighbor and his lawn cutting service making a constant noise I could only partially block with my ear-plug-and-industrial-strength-headgear solution – which isn’t really comfortable enough to write with on the days where I’m so close to the edge of not being able to write – like today. The leaf blower just came back for a second session, forcing me to wear headgear again for my afternoon nap.

Coming back from a sea-side vacation with wet bathing suits and T-shirts requires laundry. It has taken chunks out of four days, and will take more: gather and wash, put in the dryer before it gets moldy, get daughter to bring up because heavy loads are getting too much to me, and folding – but it’s sitting on top of my still full suitcase, instead of being stored where it belongs, closets and drawers in several rooms, because it is ‘vacation stuff.’

Healthy people don’t have these fears, even when they get sick

Daughter pushed through, loaded the car on Thursday, drove four hours, unloaded in NY state. Today she drove back with the feeling of being sick, and went out for the evening and possibly overnight – as soon as she had some lunch. I used to be able to do that, LONG ago.

I wrote the above a while ago, before a nap and dinner, and then the hubby came in and complained about being under the weather (he napped all afternoon) since we got back, and the fear died down a bit. Maybe we’re still fighting off that small vague illness we all brought back – and the aftereffects will go away.

I hope so. Even at my pace, I want to use what’s there to write.

But that fear won’t ever go away.


Do you experience this kind of writer’s block? For the same – or a different reason?


***** Just a few more days until the end of the fall Kindle Countdown deal – 0.99 US, UK *****

Amazon US & Amazon UK:

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “The damaged brain: the OTHER writer’s block

  1. dgkaye

    I think many of us feel stifled when we can’t write. But I can say that things are always hairy when I return from a vacation. Besides catching up with life’s demands, I find it harder to get myself back in a disciplined writing groove for a week or two sometimes. 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Not bragging, but I have zero trouble with discipline. Writing is what keeps me sane.

      What I don’t have is a reliable brain lately.

      I decided this morning it was the angst over the election – and feel strangely calm tonight.

      Hope that’s it, that and daughter leaving home, not neatly but in episodes. I really want to write this story; I have had gleamings these past two weeks since we got home, but no sustained ability.

      I think the rest of you can supervise the train wreck, support our new president-to-be, and I will be there on election day as usual.

      But I need to write, because the readers will come back as soon as THEY aren’t stunned any more.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      This is my cross: I can write when things are allowing me to AND the brain will kick on, but it is easily lost. Today I got an hour in, then had to take a nap and go to the physiatrist who may be helping me learn to walk again – and even two naps in the afternoon did nothing to restore the ability to write! Good thing she said to do my exercises, which will have slow results, and come back in two months.

      Like

      Reply
  2. Widdershins

    As I was reading your list of interruptions, a part of me was saying, ‘just tell them, no!’ … which I know isn’t possible, or practical sometimes, but when it comes down to it, how important is it to YOU that you write? … ignore the ‘if’s’ and ‘but’s’, and ‘supposed-to’s’, and ‘should’s’ … your time is precious.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I agree – and I’m bad with boundaries with the people I love – especially since they are rarely chatty, and I’ve spent time encouraging them.

      Once daughter is moved out (soon), or because circumstances have changed (she’s getting up DURING my writing time now), I’ll bring it up during the talks we have to have about a bunch of stuff before she leaves.

      My time IS precious, but I also can’t count on it even happening. I’m sure I’ll work it out; the best solution is for me to get up early and get the writing done before the rest of things crowd in. I’m working on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Catana

    I know all too well how you feel. Being on the verge of 80 years, and with the body functioning noticeably less well with each year, each small bout of some minor illness that I used to ignore makes me wonder if this one is a warning of the end. Days when my body’s constant uneasiness keep me from concentrating on writing bring the fear that I’ll leave all my work unfinished. All we can do is keep struggling against the “dying of the light.”

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I agree – but I hope it will be later rather than sooner. I’m not ready – you’d think I’d look forward to shuffling off the mortal coil, but no. I have work to finish.

      All the ads for ‘healthy spry seniors’ are lies.

      Like

      Reply
  4. serendipitydoit

    I always feel unsettled for a while after holidays, Alicia. Usually though, I feel refreshed and have a new perspective on things. But I know exactly how you feel. There are always so many interruptions and things to do and I have a huge problem knowing what to do next. Don’t be hard on yourself but do whatever you can manage to do on any given day. I have days like this too when I feel frustrated with myself because I haven’t written much at all. You’ll be back! Actually, you’re already there. You wrote a very lucid blog post.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks for the support. I’m sure I’ll come out of this – I just don’t know how long it will take.

      At least I THINK I”m sure. I’m in a loop of getting to bed at 3AM; I need to get out of that one pronto.

      Thanks for ‘lucid.’ Sometimes I wonder.

      Like

      Reply
  5. thoughtsnlifeblog

    Wow what a post, i dont know such fear. I fear otherstuff. I dont think the advise i give to myself about facing my fear is applicable here.

    May be to meditate and try to follow guided meditation may help. And a bit of self healing using meditation to shine powerful white light on the brain to heal it… and support from the divine.

    All i know us any fear is a silent killer and in directly/ directly we are envoking that fear in our life. The law of attraction what we think a lot about we create and i believe this and experienced hards times in my life and it was clear i created it. I am reading a book change your mind heal your body..havent finished it.. she had an inoperable brain tumor and she healed it… but i havent got to that bit of the book.. but meditation and positive thinking are key

    I hope and wish you a beautiful life free from fear and full of faith that it will be great

    I dont know if this comment helps or not. Sorry if by accident it isnot helpful then please delete away

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I’ve had CFS for almost 28 years now, and this is the slowest I’ve been for a long while. I do meditate and rest several times daily – I think of it as a time when there is no input, and the brain can do the job of cleaning out the gunk from thinking and reading, and it usually works. I clal it ‘mental dialysis,’ and it required that I lie down in the dark with no sound (no input). (https://liebjabberings.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/portable-sensory-deprivation-system-for-writers-and-people-with-cfs/)

      But it isn’t working the usual way right now.

      I need to be patient before I freak out – I will be behind when I get better, but that’s nothing new.

      Each little loss is scary if it’s real, a taste of what might come if it’s temporary. I preserve that kind of thought by writing them; it helps. And it may help someone else – so I post it, along with posts about the writing, and life in general.

      Welcome – see if you find useful things here.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          If curious, Pride’s Children has a CFS main character, and is on sale for a buck for the next couple of days if you’re in the US or UK.

          See sidebar. You will learn organically, as you live with Kary. I think fiction is an easy way to live another life or three.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. naleta

    It is my hope that as long as you can make blog posts, eventually the fiction will happen too. I am always glad to see another notification in my feedly that you have posted another blog post.
    {{{HUG}}} Recover from vacation and making more life changes.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Thanks, Naleta. Me, too. But blog posts are relatively easy – and fiction is complex.

      It takes guts to keep writing the posts when the fiction disappears; I hope I will have that. Meanwhile, I hope this is temporary.

      Like

      Reply

Comments welcome and valued. Thanks!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s