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Be Patient, Be Flexible, Be Gentle

I started seizure medicine a week ago. (If you’re wondering why, check out this post for the back story).

I have been resistant to seizure meds for the last twelve years since my first seizure—my seizures are infrequent enough (and in my sleep) that I don’t have to give up my driver’s license, but more significantly, the various medicines I’ve tried in the past make me feel like the walking dead. On seizure medicine, I couldn’t think; I couldn’t write.

And so, I put my money on infrequent seizures in favor of a vibrant creative life, a life in which I could preserve a consistent morning ritual of writing the way I wanted to—in my pjs, with my coffee, in a house that was silent, except for the soft snoring of my dog and the clicking of my computer keys.

Until now.

I’ve been on this medicine for about a week, and for the most part, I feel very much like myself. Last week, I felt a bit sedated in the early hours of the morning, which threw a wrench into my morning writing routine.

But because I’ve committed to working on this new novel, to explore the idea of acceptance of the unknown through a YA main character with a seizure disorder, I adapted. I couldn’t access my creative brain in the wee hours of the morning, but around 10am, after breakfast and a jog, I “woke up.”

My current work schedule allows for two days a week like this—so I blocked these days out in my calender, and in my sweaty workout clothes (a far cry from the cozy pjs of my usual writing routine), I sat down and wrote 7 pages—both days. These fourteen pages (the exact amount I would’ve written had I stuck to my 2 pages/day habit) felt like a divine whisper: Be patient. Be flexible. Be gentle with yourself.

There are people (lots of people) who will say that you are only a “real writer” if you write every day—that you have to be vigilant, lest you miss the muse when she shows up.

What I have found to be true is that the flash of inspiration (the effusive, yet infrequent, burst of passion that sends my urgent fingers flying across the keyboard) is less important than a simple willingness to show up—to sit down in the front of the computer or the blank page and tell my story. I might have a daily willingness, but limited opportunities to actually write. Maybe even only two days a week. But that doesn’t make me any less of a writer.

So that was last week. This week, I seem to be adjusting to the meds—I’m writing this at 7am, as my kids blissfully sleep, enjoying their Easter break from school. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll be able to write at 5am again. Maybe I’ll write at 10am, too.

What I know for sure is that if I get caught up in the rigidity of attempting to control my writing practice, I will suffocate it. When I am patient, flexible, and gentle with myself, I open myself to a fluid connection with my creative spirit and the unfolding of the seemingly impossible. For me, Easter is about this process of renewal and rebirth, remembering that on the other side of darkness, there is light—hope and possibility.

Next week, when my medicine is increased for the first time, as we move toward the amount that ultimately (hopefully) will keep me from having seizures, I may discover that this newfound writing routine doesn’t work anymore, and I’ll need to be open to the possibility of a different writing time. But after years of thinking that I could ONLY write in the early hours of the morning under very specific conditions, the discovery of these new pockets of creativity during my day feels like a gift during an otherwise dark and difficult time.

For me, this new awareness IS renewal and rebirth, and I am filled with hope and possibility.

This morning, there are daffodils in my backyard, currently sprinkled with a dusting of persistent snow, not quite ready to release its wintry grip.

Yet even in the cold, the daffodils do not wither; they bend.

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