I have been in pain this year. I don’t like to admit that. Acknowledging it makes it more real. I prefer to put jokes on top, or write about someone else entirely. Fiction is easier for me, until it isn’t. And right now it isn’t, because I’m hiding too much.

There is place in my lower back where the disk pushes on a nerve. A lot of people experience this, but not many people experience a pain so excruciating that it causes them to black out. This has happened to me. And when I am pushing myself up from the floor to crawl out of the bathroom, I have not found it helpful to focus on what most people experience. Nor is it helpful to wonder why I am unable to cope with my pain, or why it is happening to me at a relatively young and healthy period of my life.

I write stories because I love them, and it’s the only magic I know. Writing a fully functioning dream into another person’s brain is absolutely magic, but the magic is dim right now.

I wrote a novella in April but I am afraid to edit it. I don’t know where I’d send it, and I don’t have an agent.

I wrote several tiny stories for Curious Fiction, and I am collecting them into handbound magazines for an artist’s market in August, but I feel so weird asking for money for my art.

I have collected too many rejection letters on the stories I thought worthy, and I am worried that the only markets who were interested in my words have closed.

I am telling you all of this, because no one should be alone in these fears. And I know you’ve felt them, too.

Sometimes the words stop. And I need to look at why. I had a steroid shot in my lower back this week so I could exercise without sending my back into muscles spasms. I wanted to use some of my recovery time to write a backlog of small stories for Curious Fiction, but I spent most of it exercising and making little books. I also made a spell book for a new game of dungeons and dragons. Part of me wants to call this time wasted, but it made me happy. And I know that any captured bit of happiness right now is not a waste of time.

I am building myself up, because I don’t know if the steroid will work. I don’t know if my bad days are behind me, or if I’m only putting off some larger bodily failure. I have considered getting a more discrete cane, because on the bad days I had to use a walking stick that is almost as tall as I am to navigate my house.

(Only marginally more discrete- I have seen canes with crystal doorknob handles and if I have to carry one, I’d like to look like an extra-planer botanist witch.)

I think I am struggling to reconcile the idea that who I am does not change when I am unable to create. I love making things. I usually ask my friends what they are making- any expression of art is exciting, because it comes from a place near the core of ones being. But I know that the core can burn out. It’s understandable to be exhausted. It’s enough to find the people you love and sit down with them and be.