My MFA program starts up this week–my first workshop since the stroke is next Tuesday evening. I’m trying to amp myself up for the return to school! I really am full of hope. I really do feel like a new beginning approaches.

But I am also filled with self doubt as the door begins to open.

By physician standards, I’m cured. I waved goodbye to my neurologist months ago. Same with my speech therapist. The PFO, aka the hole in my heart and diagnosed cause for the strokes, is now closed. I was cleared for exercise a month ago–and this past Sunday, I went on a morning hike in the Sierras, marking the fastest pace I’ve ever set on a hike.

I still tire remarkably easily, I was exhausted after that short hike. After a day at work, I spend the next day recuperating. It takes me FOREVER to write anything at all, though it is still more than I could write a few months ago (and before that, in the early days after the stroke, I couldn’t write fiction at all). And after a day of fiction writing (because it does take me an entire day to get a few pages down now), I’m exhausted again.

I’m inspired and so discouraged and exhausted all at once.

Will I EVER be the same again? No. What is my writing like now? I am filled with self-doubt about my fiction. I think it might just totally suck. After all, I don’t catch my writing errors until the 3rd or 4th read through, so what’s to say I can’t even detect sucky writing when I see it? The thought of not writing anymore is driving me nuts. So of course, I move forward, blind and full of hope, making scattered mistakes along the way that scream, “Your brain is NOT all the way back!”

Today, I wrote something down. On the 3rd read through I realized I’d misused a word. I’d used “transfer” to say something like, “Who knew one could transfer a common fruit into such remarkable food?”

Hrm. I think I misused that word, I thought. Transfer, transfer, transfer. It didn’t sound right. But what was the correct word? I KNEW it was simple, but I couldn’t figure out the right word.

After ten minutes (yes, TEN MINUTES–that’s a LONG time to spend on something so f*cking BASIC!!!!!!!)….I hit the nail on the head.

Oh. Transform. Transforrrrm. I should have written, “Who knew one could transform a common fruit into such remarkable food?”

This is my writing life. I feel like a retard who might not even know the extent of her retardation.

And yet–ignorance is NOT bliss.



Filed under Life, The Stroke, Writing

8 responses to “Transform…transforrrrrrm

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself! I make mistakes like that all the time, and I blank out on words all the time. You have been healing … the words and writing are there, you are just catching up and getting back into shape, just as in the rest of your body and your hike.

  2. Violeta

    The “transfer” -> “transform” thing reminded me of something I do often when I write, not because of a stroke but because I’m a simultaneous bilingual. I write either a word in Spanish or a false cognate rather than the “correct” English word. It takes me several reads sometimes to catch it too and it can be frustrating. The upside is, sometimes the mistake also reveals some leap of my mind, some new direction that I want to take that the logical narrative-making part of my brain isn’t controlling. So it’s not the same thing, but it’s similar. And sometimes it *can* be a good thing. It might cause your voice to make new leaps. Good luck with your upcoming workshop!

  3. mel

    Ditto Elizabeth, i do that at times, too (once with “faculties” and “facilities”). Congrats on starting back w/school. Good luck tonight.

  4. Turn, turn, turn…Will you be 100% one day? Was I ever 100% anything at any day? Who knows. But are any one of us 100% the same as we were any other time, and are we ever perfect…you’ll get better at one thing and maybe lapse in other things but that’s something that happens to all of us…it’s just the recovery process that is sensitizing everything on all levels. You’re doing great! 🙂

  5. hyunjini

    your writing, before and after the stroke, is far better than what the majority of people can write, so i say, you give yourself a little break.

  6. Eve

    If I knew you, I would make you tea and say, “My dear…” and remind you that your world was rocked to its very foundation when you had such a major, life-threatening event (the stroke).

    Recovering from trauma is more than a physical recovery. I know this on a personal level, too, and so continue to wish you well in all ways.

  7. i think you should hire an editor. i volunteer for the position 😛

  8. Pingback: a story takes a long journey « Writing Under a Pseudonym

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