So this idea that writers--and artists in general, for that matter--have to be train wrecks, it has been on my mind. And not because I'm anywhere near that right now. My version involves no sleep, and subsisting on diet coke, granola bars, and antihistamines. Until now.
I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but lately (and I'm almost embarrassed to say this) I've been thinking about wellness. Maybe it's the tough Midwesterner in me, but I always feel like I have to prove myself by being hardcore. Like giving a final exam while having contractions two minutes apart, then driving myself over to the hospital, and grading papers while they hook up the monitors. That kind of thing.
I have two kids and a demanding job, so naturally I'm overextended. Not taking it easy has been a survival instinct as much as it's been a recreational activity. I stay up late reading. Sometimes I sit on the hardwood floor so that I don't fall asleep. I procrastinate so that I can use the pressure as extra energy.
Lately, though, I've been feeling kind of relaxed, even in the middle of things. Today I listened to NPR instead of Van Halen (sorry, EW; you know I would never have done that if it was Jamie's Cryin'). I've been really enthused about sitting on my screened-in porch and commenting on student poems. The leaves look really pretty this year. And sometimes I even get excited to pet my cats. Now: I get to share my house with these amazing creatures! Two weeks ago: These little shitheads are shedding and getting underfoot. Bah!
No, I'm not on medication. I'm just getting more sleep, and not drinking diet coke any more, and trying to be frugal with my shopping, which is strangely exhilarating.
I hope that I can still write poems if I'm not stressed out.
What do you think about the mind + body connection, especially for writers? Do we have to be wild to succeed? Should we ignore all of those catastrophic tendencies of yesteryear, and take better care of ourselves? Is the wayward stage a rite of passage that we should eventually outgrow (or not)?
Perhaps I will open a spa for writers in my copious spare time. They can come drink tea on my porch and pet my cats.