Monday, January 29, 2007

the mind/body problem

I'm getting over a cold. My roommate said to me, as I was standing in our kitchen brewing myself some tea and sniffling, "Aimee, you always seem to get sick after you finish writing." And she's right. Last Monday, I had an intense deadline -- I had to pass over to my editor everything I'd written on my new novel so far, which turned out to be about 13o pages, plus a detailed outline of the rest of the book. I crashed a lot of that over several very draining days in a row (because I work full-time as an editor -- a job I love -- I try to take time off here and there to really focus in on writing), and by Wednesday of that week, I was exhausted and had an earache, and by Thursday afternoon I was under the covers with tissues and the first season DVD of VERONICA MARS (so good, by the way). And I gave myself strict "doctor's" orders: no more writing. At least not until I felt 100% better.

It's funny how writing isn't really physical labor, but it can drain our bodies as much as it saps our minds. I guess all those late nights and unhealthy dinners (Chinese take-out gulped down in front of my laptop), those early mornings spent fighting for a spot at my neighborhood Starbucks and sucking down lattes, the general work-work-work stress that drums through my head when I'm doing anything BUT all adds up. And takes its toll. I wish I could lead a healthier writer's life: go to bed by 11, wake up at dawn, do yoga, maybe go for a run, steam myself some vegetables. Of course, when I envision this life, I also see myself living in some lakeside cabin, not in the cramped Manhattan apartment where I now reside. It's a lovely fantasy, but it also isn't ME. I love getting away to the mountains and the lake for a cleansing vacation, but could I LIVE there? I don't think so. I'm a city girl through and through (and that's what I'm writing about now --city girls who move to the mountains). As much as the energy and noise and dirt of the city exhaust me, the same elements give me energy and inspiration, drive me forward.

I suppose we need to work so hard that we expend ourselves -- so that we can recharge and start again (are people really so much like batteries?). I think my getting sick now was my body's -- or mind's? -- way of telling me: STOP. Take a break. Spend a weekend lolling about, eating hot chicken soup and NOT writing for once. And hopefully now that I've done this, I will be refreshed and revived. Because another deadline is looming. But maybe this time, I'll drink some orange juice with my Chinese takeout, and take vitamins each morning. Maybe I'll even try a little yoga, if I can squeeze it in. It's like that great line from The Princess Bride, delivered by one villain to another : "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything."


Jennifer Echols said...

Aimee, I hope you feel much better soon! And...I don't think it's the lattes. Lattes are good for you.

Micol Ostow said...

I can so sympathize...turned in my latest ro com on Monday...just got out of bed this afternoon (yeah, it's Wednesday).
Oh, and I ate Chinese takeout through it all.

Get well soon!