Kage Baker taught me that a writer sometimes needs to jump-start their writing. Forcibly. Perhaps with explosives.
This means that writers can fall into behaviour totally lacking the energy curve sufficient to make the leap into actual writing. Research slowly devolves into web-surfing, or reading trashy novels or fringe science or Pogo, Calvin & Hobbes and Heavenly Nostrils compilations. Writing shrinks and shrinks ( …and still I continue to shrink!*) until one is hard put to manage a snappy Twitter caption; indeed, one finds oneself simply ogling NASA photos of the day, or wandering through #fieldworkfail and snickering like a hyena.
For Kage, pitfalls included Monkey Island computer games and cartoon marathons. Luckily for me, she passed on her Monkey Island obsession to our semi-niece Meagan. And I never succumbed to the dubious charms of SpongeBob. In fact, I felt it was a sign of my eventual recovery from Kage’s death when I felt relief that I wouldn’t have to go see the recent SpongeBob movie a gazillion times.
So, I lack Kage’s specific ways and cues for wasting time. Nonetheless, I have my own; and I’ve done very nearly nothing about writing for the last month. I would not be at all surprised if I am now shouting into an uninhabited vacuum. I have no excuse – several reasons, but no real excuse. It’s been a truly wretched year for health with me, and it just keeps getting funnier (as Beetlejuice says. This is irony, kids.). Various joints are responding to the climate change in Los Angeles by freezing up: I appear to be maturing into some kind of coral organism, determined to spend my Golden Years as a sessile life form. My heart objects to the rising summer heat strenuously – well, no, I tell a lie: my heart does nothing strenuously; it objects to heat by whining, stammering and apparently developing St. Vitus Dance. Or maybe St. Elmo’s Fire; late at night, it’s hard to tell. I must ask Kimberly if I am phosphorescent.
The lifelong attempt to kill me on the part of my right kidney has progressed to Stage 3 kidney failure – this is not necessarily dangerous, and many people stay right there long enough to die of something else decades further on. However, my kidney is an over-achiever: it is trying to make the grade to Stage 4, preferably in one gigantic upgrade, like a Windows 10 download that can kill you. I am, by now, accustomed to constant, low-level pain: however, the last month has featured episodes of the brain-burning, spine-dissolving, projectile-vomiting pain that only accompanies real kidney trouble.
Luckily, as I learned 50 years ago, when it reaches the puking point, it means the attack is almost over. So there is that to enjoy … until then, though, I am a black hole of muttered complaint and shrieked obscenity as I crab-walk between my bed and the bathroom, unable to stand up straight or actually pee. To make it even more interesting, I have apparently finally developed kidney stones: the sensation of which is a quantum leap beyond the mere strangulation pain of the kink in my ureter swelling shut …
And even the question of the stones is still hypothetical; unless you go out of your way to pee into a strainer (yeah, good luck with that for us setter types) the only way to tell if you might have passed a kidney stone is that the pain stops. At first, you may not be sure if you have simply died and are waiting for the Urinary Valkeries to carry you away to Kidney Pain Valhalla; but eventually you decide the floating sensation of ecstasy means you have actually survived.
Until the next one, anyway. There have been 2, so far. But tomorrow I have a sonogram scheduled, to eyeball my entire damned urinary tract with magic rays and find out what is screwing things up in there. I am expecting something vile and astonishing – a randomly-growing liver. An unexploded land mine. The Lost Dutchman Mine – at the very least, staghorn calculus**. I am also expecting another argument with my doctors as to whether or not I can finally evict the offending organ – because at this point, one working kidney would make life easier than carrying around this one that periodically renders me too sick to write for days at a time.
In the meantime: kick-starting has commenced. I went to Target today, and got new underwear for my sonogram session (it’s a girl thing). I am recklessly glugging coffee. I have gone to the grocery store, and not fallen down in the driveway! As long as I don’t try to alter the plane of my torso too quickly (or much at all), I am fine.
And so, barricaded into my swivel chair with pillows, I essay once more the seas of literature. Wish me luck, Dear Readers.
*A reference for those old enough to have ridden the Disney ride for tired feet that was NOT Small, Small World