I have spent most of the last six days in bed. I've had sciatica, a terrible pinching of the sciatic nerve that runs down your leg from your hip. It's given me lots of time to think and read and listen to short story podcasts. And it gave me time to think about how efficiently pain focuses your mind. When I tried to stand or move in a way my sciatic nerve didn't approve of, a sharp burning pain would run down my leg, the worst pain ever, and I've had two children. It really forced me to clear out all other thoughts and focus on it alone. It was like a superpower for focusing.
I lay there in my bed thinking how much I wished I could have pain's focusing power for other things. When I'm writing, so many things push there way in and fuzzy up my mind, make me lose track of what I really want to be doing. The everyday stuff like- I forgot to feed the cat, I should go buy milk, what will we eat for supper?
And then the outside critics: no one will understand that, that is the worst sentence ever written, that is the most pompous sentence ever written, is that even grammatically correct?
And then my constant inner doubts: no one will ever publish this, why on earth do you think you have the authority to write about that? You're a complete poser. Quit wasting your time. She (fill-in-the-blank) is a much better writer than you. With all of that mental noise I wonder how I ever manage to write anything at all.
Pain never allows that. If something starts up, pain shuts it down. How I wish my writing could have that superpower, how I wish it could say- NO! We will not be listening to any of that! How much easier this job would be.