There are things that turn your life upside down without being really major. In the last two weeks it’s been an upper respiratory infection my husband and I keep sharing, and lately the fact that Greebo, editor-at-tuna at Baen has been under the weather with the same. Now, it’s unlikely it’s the same virus (though it does happen viruses cross the species barrier, it’s very rare) but still.
The “we have a cold” is just annoying, honestly. Both of us know we’re probably not going to die from this, though I need to keep up with the asthma meds, as already being clogged up make it harder to get through asthma attacks.
OTOH when Greebo stops eating and starts hiding in that pose cats do when when they think they’re very, very ill and possibly going to die (scrunched against the wall in a small space) I panic.
We were about ready to take him to the vet for hydration when last night he started acting more like himself (we did take him to vet for antibiotics on the off chance it was bacterial.) He came up on the bed for about an hour of pets, and ended up falling asleep in the crook of my elbow. (Very flattering and at 16.5 lbs of cat incredibly uncomfortable.)
But he’s still not fully himself, because he waited till nine thirty to herd me into the office. For which I’m grateful because my upper respiratory issue, which was almost gone, came back with a vengeance, possibly due to stress/worry.
When I was a little girl and I asked grandma what she wanted for Christmas, she would answer something like “All I want is a year of good health.”
At some point, mom started giving the same answer combined with pious statements like “You don’t know what a value your health is till it’s gone.”
Now, my health sucks, as it’s always sucked. I have spent most of my life “down with something.”
My older son says that and the depressive tendencies are how Himself keeps me from taking over the world. I think he grossly overestimates me.
But here’s the thing: since turning fifty the health is markedly worse. Not in the “main” part of when I’m ill, but the times between. I.e. when I’m “okay” I’m not as okay.
I’m half convinced people who stop walking/stop going upstairs, etc just have low tolerance for pain. Because at some point, after fifty, something is going to hurt all the time. At some point, you just make a decision to carry on, forge on, live on, and not let it limit you (which is not the same as not taking care of yourself, though I do have some attacks of that too, when I get impatient.)
After fifty if you baby yourself too much, you’re going to end up cutting off capacities.
It’s sort of the same thing with my writing. I don’t know when it was I realized I’d never make it “big” for a given definition of “big.” And no, I don’t know if it’s the writing, the political opinions, or the fact that I simply am very odd. It’s probably “yes” or “all three” so that even if I fix the other two, the politics will keep me out of the big time.
Also there’s the fact that the writing success “ladder” is melting away under me as I climb. (I swear I didn’t break it.) Mostly traditional publishing is dying from an inability to face reality. Senescence, you could say, just like your body when it stops healing as well, as you get older.
Now, I can’t save the writing field (not my circus, not my monkeys) or even mainstream publishers (other than Baen, who sort of isn’t, they wouldn’t touch me with a tent foot pole anyway) but I can not give up.
It’s not easy. Knowing that there’s a limit to what you can achieve, no matter how hard you try, is like those constant pains in my knees from the auto-immune arthritis. It holds you back. As my friend Dave Freer says so often “you get battle fatigue. You lose the “get up and go””
But I figure it’s like the pains in the body as it ages. If I give in to despondency and despair, all it means is that I’ll be limiting myself, making myself small and incapable. Sure, there are things I probably can never do. But you know, I do believe there’s something else hereafter, and if I get there I want to be able to say “Well, it didn’t work the way You wanted it, and yeah, it’s likely my fault for being mouthy and not having a good poker face, but damn it, I tried. I gave it my best shot.” I don’t want to say “I knew it wouldn’t get anywhere, so I gave up.”
Because I don’t know where the writing comes from, or why I’m compelled to do it, I’ll continue doing as much as I can, through turmoil, illness and various disappointments. Because the thing isn’t entirely under my control, and maybe there’s a reason for that.
The world, on the other hand, is safe from my taking over it. At least while I’m completely congested. Afterwards, we’ll see.