Guest Blogger: Mary Roberts
David Sedaris likes my book idea? What if he invites me to his new home in West Sussex? Why am I not staying for the book signing? I berate myself for the six minutes it takes to limp to my car.
I am standing in a long line with my friend, Katherine, to spend a moment with David and have him sign our books. We paid sixty-five dollars each to sit upfront and listen to David. He’s funny, a little whiny and we all sigh when he says something poignant. I love him.
But I don’t know if I have the capacity for this amount of sacrifice. My hip hurts too much. I say “hip” but the following week I find out that it’s my gluteus medius, a long broad muscle that sits high up on my right butt.
Fifteen minutes pass and I turn to Katherine and tell her to say hi to David and please get my book signed. Clutching my hip, (my ass, whatever), I leave. I can’t do it; I can’t suffer for my art.
It’s true, I don’t write when I’m sick. I don’t sit for long hours, conjoined to my computer. I don’t stay up late to write, I don’t skip exercise or dog walks or even long rambling phone calls with my sisters. If I get a last-minute invitation for salad, wine and the first three seasons of The West Wing, I’ll trip over my three dogs to get out the door.
When I Google “Pain and Writers” or “writers suffering for their art,” all I get is “writers and depression.” I Google ‘writers and chronic pain” and I get George Clooney and Jennifer Grey and how they continue despite severe back pain and ruptured discs and thyroid cancer. I didn’t realize they were writers.
In a searing moment of clarity, I understand that my writing life comes with conditions.
I know that I will continue to go to yoga class instead of writing. I will always make decent dinners for myself instead of stuffing myself with cold pizza or choosing to pick up my old smoking habit and not eat at all. Since taking up kickboxing, I can’t even have one glass of wine without wanting to puke at class the next morning.
I stop for a moment and reflect. What has David given up? I could have asked him that night. If only I was willing to suffer for my art. I know he once worked as an elf named Crumpet at Macy’s for Christmas.
“Oh, little elf, little elf! Come sing Away in a Manger for us!”
It must have been painful.
I suppose I can TIVO Breaking Bad and go write for a couple of hours. And I don’t absolutely have to go check out the Chico’s sale every time I get an email from them.
I feel depressed already. Usually, when I’m a little down, I hop on my desk treadmill and walk and type, getting in some good writing time and burning calories and stretching my gluteus medius.
But that would make me happy and temporarily pain-free.
Ten minutes later, I am standing on my friend’s porch, the friend who is a closet smoker, demanding a cigarette and a glass of oaky Chardonnay.
The suffering has to start somewhere.