On Not Writing

This past week or so has been rough. We’ve been through a lot at the Vardy household. The family car broke down while we were out of town, our kitchen was wrecked by fire, and my right hand received second-degree burns fighting said fire. Now there is no debating that I probably wouldn’t have been hurt had I not reacted the way I did, but in the heat of the moment-no pun intended-I did what I did and was injured as a result. But it could’ve been much, much worse.

Yet the pain in my hand isn’t nearly as dominating as the pain I’m feeling from not being able to write.

It’s true. I haven’t been able to be as prolific with my thoughts as I usually am. I mean, I’ve got a book to write. I’ve got work to do. I’ve got plenty of ideas I’ve been jotting down in Drafts or in my Field Notes notebook, (or wherever, really). But I just can’t keep up. And that is really, really frustrating.

I’ve probably been keeping this inside for a while. (Well, at least for the past week.) But tonight I listened to the latest ZenGeek podcast where Andrew and Jeffrey talked about writing, and it all came flooding through. I sat there listening, knowing that I should probably be writing. Knowing that probably – at the very least – I should’ve been writing earlier in the day.

But I didn’t. And I hadn’t.

Instead, I just sat there. Not just during the podcast, but for much of the day.

You may think I’m being hard on myself. Maybe I am. But I really didn’t pitch in all that much anywhere today. I mean, my hand is feeling more pain than it has since the fire, but that really isn’t an excuse to not do anything at all. My wife needs the help. We have two children, both of whom need both parents to step up no matter what’s going on.

But I just couldn’t get up. I was just too sore, too unmotivated, too exhausted. I was just too…not there.

I’m writing this post using the Dragon Dictation iOS app with my iPad sitting in my lap. Normally I’d be using one of the writing apps on my iPad to do this post instead. I suppose you could say I am “technically” using a writing app right now, but the inability to really push my thoughts out through my fingertips and onto the screen means it isn’t the same. I mean, using my voice to convey my thoughts is one thing, but the tactile feeling of being able to put those words to screen is something completely different. It feels like I’m doing more with my words when I do that, as opposed to just saying things out loud with the hopes that the app is going to get the right the first time.

I was rereading Stephen King’s On Writing tonight, but I skipped ahead to the postscript where he talks about his accident. As I re-read that chapter I could totally feel where he was coming from, although his injuries were much more severe. Much like he had, I’ve had excellent support from my wife, Anne, who is a rock as per usual. My son is asking me every five minutes, “Are you okay, Daddy?”, as only a two-year old can…and I reply “yes” every time.

But I’m not totally okay.

If there’s one thing that this whole ordeal has taught me it’s that writing is hard, but not writing is even harder. Yet I want to get back to it quickly, because as King says in the book:

“(Writing) makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place.”

I know this hand of mine is going to take some time to heal. I know I’m going to have to get used to writing with eight fingers when I decide that I want to type something out. I know I’m going to have to get used to using these kind of apps for now, as well as different methods to get my thoughts out to the world. I guess I have to be okay with that. The only other choice I have is to do nothing – and I’m definitely not about doing nothing.

So, writing for me over the next little while was going to be different. But it’s still going to be writing, which is much better than not writing. Because not writing is the equivalent of not doing. And not doing is the equivalent of, well, not really living.

And frankly, I’ve not only got a lot to write about…but I’ve also got a lot to live for.

Photo credit: Shira Gal (CC BY 2.0)