Or hitting a wall across the road when the road appeared to be wide open except for that very distant wall. But I have. It’s not a fatal crash, and not a fatal wall, but it sure was a wake-up call. It had actually been there all along, but what I saw (thought I saw) was a mere line of bricks some idiot had left in the road, and over which I would bounce with only, perhaps, an uncomfortable little jolt. Alas, it was a big fat wall, and after I lay there awhile thinking about it, I realized, in a Lady of Shalott sort of way, that the Doom Had Come Upon Me….that is, I really AM no longer 24, 34, 44, 54, 64, and no amount of “willpower” is going to restore the ability to work on 3-4 hours of sleep for a month and then recover with a few days of 10 hours/night. Or the ability to subsist on whatever food happens to be around while still maintaining physical and mental vigor and acuity.
This has come as a shock, since MY life plan was to stay a virtual 34 or 35 (a particularly healthy year) until, at some far-future point, I simply died. In fact, having had a talk with a medical person, and come up with a Sensible Plan for reconstructing what can be conserved of the physical vigor, my immediate next thoughts were aimed at filling in the space left by reducing the load (and getting more sleep, to start with) with other things that would have been an equivalent load. (This was pointed out by Helpful Friends, two of whom, recently retired and younger than I am, made it clear that just switching from one kind of overwork to another was not, in fact, a good idea. Oh. I thought it was.)
A short period of attempted adjustment to the Sensible Plan has ensued. I have done restructuring before (after adopting an autistic kid, for instance, and retraining for particular athletic things) but “Sensible” means different things to different people, and I have a strain of wild mustang that makes me buck, kick, and fling my head around at the notion that I should be a sweet little show pony with a braided mane and glossy hooves, docile and willing to walk, trot, and canter in the ring in a line of other show ponies. (In other words, don’t even try to suggest giving up chocolate.)
On the other hand, being a sick mustang is no fun at all; the point of the mustang strain is being able to run wild and free doing all sorts of things people think I shouldn’t be able to do. Writing books people want to read. Riding my bike farther than a few blocks. Climbing things. And that means regaining strength and endurance. And that means…well…work. The work has begun, but at my age it takes longer. The bike has, as of yesterday, a new front tire and a new chain. (The front tire wouldn’t hold pressure for even an hour. Pumping up a bike tire from dead flat, when you’re not used to it, and suddenly do it multiple times a day (four or five) for a few days, creates problems in the lower back. The old tire and tube had to go.) I’m riding again (not that fast, not that far, but within the limits and nudging them.
What this means for readers of said books is that beyond Cold Welcome, the books may slow down. I had been able to write a book a year only by sacrificing a lot of sleep and many other activities. I can no longer write 5000 words/day in emergencies, or even 2000 words/day reliably, in a reasonable working period per day. I write better when not short of sleep, short of food or eating the wrong foods for this body because I don’t have time to fix the right ones. When I find out what is possible now in a schedule that makes time for sleep, cooking, eating, exercise…then I can set a new publication schedule. But that will probably take a year or two to come clear and in the meantime I can expect some further loss to simple aging, especially in vision. I have many more books and stories I want to write, sitting there in line in my head like train cars on a side track. But they’re not going to be written fast, because trying to write fast now means The Wall. Not hitting that wall again…being as sick as I’ve been the last four months, one thing after another, wears me down.
So…nothing to see here, really, except an old (grump!) woman who has picked herself up again, and is moving forward again, and will continue to supply you with stories if you stick around. Today, for instance, I hope to finish up the new revision requests that came in last Thursday afternoon. But I won’t stay up late if they’re not.