When I was in my twenties, I injured myself while performing in a dance concert. I remember the exact moment when I threw myself into the air, legs kicking behind me, back arching. Something in my lower back tugged unexpectedly. I landed and finished the performance, adrenalin carrying me through. But after months of recurring pain and an eventual doctor visit, I learned that I had sprained my iliolumbar ligament, one of the ligaments that connect the hip bone to the lower spine.
I got good care, including physical therapy, which has informed my daily morning routine since. But once in a while, my body reminds me of my injury, and the pain returns. That’s where I am right now, two weeks into a visit from my old companion.
It’s not easy to write when sitting hurts. It’s frustrating to revisit a physical problem I thought I had under control. But this is the way things go sometimes. I’m lucky that I have exercises and tactics to get me through, though in my anxiety I question whether this time they will work. I don’t remember it taking this long to recover, but it’s been some time since my back bothered me, so I don’t trust my memory either. It doesn’t matter anyway. Just focus on where you are now, I tell myself.
After a strong editing push during my mini-retreat, progress has slowed to a crawl. I’m grateful that the problem happened after the retreat and not before though. So I’ve been inching along, doing what I can.
Gradually, my back has improved. I’ve been able to do a little more each day. The hardest part is reining in the voice in my head that’s been getting louder lately, the one that says, “You’ve been working on this book for almost nine years. When are you going to stop coming up with excuses and finish it? Why is this taking so long?”
Why indeed. Well, life. And learning how to do this hard thing of writing a novel. And more life.
I hope that if you’re dealing with a setback of any kind that you’re finding ways to take care of yourself and focus on what you can do. I hope that you’re all being kind to yourselves.