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Pain and Writing
Pondering the Last Sustainable Work of a Slavish Life: 8/20/23
© 2023 James LaFond
I had two conversations the other day with good friends. Both of these men have been involved in transporting, feeding and providing liquid painkiller for this broken down piece of white trash these past 10 weeks.
One is a writer and artist who sought semi-retirement from economic toil in order to pursue his artistic passions. Recent health issues have prevented this and he is despondent that the muses might not return. This man has hyper-focus, his artistic strength, which has now turned against its master in making his injury the focus rather than his art. I had my two worst writing months back to back, since becoming a full time writer in 2010, unable to focus on writing in the gripes of higher orders of pain. This has reduced both of us in the estimation of our own mind’s eye.
The other is a reader who learned to write in university. He is amazed at how prolific I have been with writing. He engages me in a diner once a week for what he calls “A Focus Session,” thus promoting me from knife coach to life coach in my injured state. I simply pay attention to his statements, digressions, observations, musings and questions. Those in hand, it is simple for one outside of his field of concern to observe that salient point—kind of like writing. He wondered this past Wednesday, “Mister James, how many books have you written?”
“I do not know. A reader volunteered to discover just that in 2015 and instead began editing my books and is now, tragically reduced to being my medical coordinator, since I’m too damned stupid to open medical emails.”
Then, yesterday, noting that I was pushing my physical therapy, most of which I have made up, my host, the Brickmouse said, “James, just for now, could you please pretend that you don’t hate yourself, and maybe treat your body like a broken buddy who you are helping to heal rather than punishing the wimp still hiding in there?”
We laughed and I eased off on the weights and crunches.
My observation over this stretch of time is that all of my early books were written while I was recovering from work injuries and had time off—when I was in considerable chronic pain, rather than the sizzling vomit and delirium inducing pain I experienced for most of June and July last. The writing has picked up these last few weeks. Pain has returned as a muse, subsiding from the roaring sea of diminishment.
In the middle ground, where I reside now, discipline has been able to battle the pain and write. Just now the knee is exploding, at a pain level of 7.5. But, I don’t feel weak, feel like I can deal with it. The pain is now reduced to the constant background noise singing in my head; now like a sea shell, last night like pressure waves, at times like a screaming fire alarm. It has no pain, only the power to threaten focus. Recently I found myself focusing on the roaring in my head and wondering if it would effect my writing. So, I changed the setting to a noisy industrial space.
The key is where you are focusing. When you are a medical patient, your focus is upon yourself. This is the death of a writer, at least of his hope for relevance down throughout the ages. I can’t get on board with Saint Augustine and the Christians who insisted that a good man must love his body like a man loves a wife and Christ loves the Church. I cannot bring myself to love this vehicle of passage. This, that I have not focused on the failed human weakling born James Theodore LaFond in 1963, at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore had been my keystone. For those two months of agony I was reduced to a modern person and did nothing of possible note. Turning the focus away from me the medical patient still unable to walk has permitted a return to writing, which is observation, sympathy, empathy, investigation and evaluation of peoples, places and things.
In my opinion, the reason why most people who want to write a book, this is hundreds who have confided in me now, claim that they “can’t,” has convinced me that the freakish proliferation of books coming from one special education student late in a failed life, has for its wellspring a projection of this mind away from the Seat of Dismay, to focus on the world as it was, is and might be. So long as the spotlight of my major muse—the managerial one who bosses the ghosts of the many others, some of them among those reading this—is projected away from my backpack empire of crippled impoverishment, I remain a writer.
But for those few dozens of days in June in July, when I did abide by Saint Augustine’s dictum from On Christian Doctrine that declared I may not be a Christian unless I learn to love my body, my focus was on me, my injury, my sleeping berth—floor, bed, couch—and nutrition and medication. During those brief Christian weeks, I was not a writer.
But since I have begun to limp rather than crawl, the unrepentant Heathen in my being has risen to take back this riven soul from the sniveling pit of self-care. I cannot attain any higher state imagined by the Heathen, Pagan, Egyptian, Gnostic, Christian or Modern faiths that have at one time or another tugged at my conscience. I can, however, leave a human stain that might well outlast this misguided sack of stringy bone so long as I write.
There is nothing else left.
To focus forward, I wish to finally put written works behind me and count what is there. Works that span less than the 44 page minimum for POD publishing, will not be included. Games like Pizza Wars, Tyrants of Yitar and certain booklets and lone essays will not be counted. Only a work of 44 or more pages makes the grade. Writers communicate in words the size of their work, readers pages. So each entry will contain both, if I have it at hand.
Thank you for your support.
James, Baltimore, MD.
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Bones @FiveGunsWest     Apr 11, 2024

I just read in Salman Rushdie's 'The Golden House', the protagonist was talking about writing and muses, and he says writers just show up and go to work. I'll be gentle here and just mention the whole thing is in the final chapter of the aforementioned book for all and sundry who are interested. It's probably in your local library of if you used Library To Go or Libby.

That said, Thomas Mann said something like ... A writer is someone for whom it is much more difficult to write than regular people.

You have none of those problems. As I age I certainly am not in live with my body. I've read St. Augustine. One of his lengthier tomes is holding up a piano leg. Prodigious and prolific you are. Your take is sublimely original and as always, quite interesting. Say hi to your publishing house for me. If you're into cats, I'll close with 'May star-clan light your path. The hellishness of living and writing the epic story is always at hand until one my longingly fall into an uncomfortable and fitful sleep. Pardon my typos. I don't know where my glasses are at the moment.
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