I've been pounding away at keyboards for more than half my life now and the damage is starting to accumulate.
My fingers, of course. Arthritic, certain over-used fingers aching now even when I'm away from the computer. My shoulders and neck are where a lot of the tension goes. Lower back. And spending eight or ten hours a day seated, hunched over the monitor, may have something to do with the cramping in my legs that has tormented me for years. Ah, but when I think of cramping, I think of the painful ache I get in my guts every morning, an attack of nerves as I contemplate the work that lies ahead that day. Pressure, intensity, self-doubt, obsessive-compulsive thought processes. The mind-body connection, in spades.
For the past year or more I have been trying to compensate. Honing my prayers/meditations, incorporating a stretching regimen. Situps and pushups to rebuild my shoulders and twisted spinal column.
All part of the toll that is exacted for doing what I do. It takes a lot out of person to face that screen, the virtual equivalent of a blank, white sheet, every single day of your existence. Having to fill that in with characters that haven't existed previously, stories that still remain untold. At the end of the day I'm drained, exhausted. At the end of a project, I'm burnt out, barely coherent. It's a hard life, there are few rewards (and they're short-lived and transitory). If you do it for money, fame and posterity, you're a fool. If you do it for the purposes of art, you're just plain crazy.
I've been at it a quarter of a century and it hasn't gotten any easier. If anything, I have higher expectations for myself now than I ever did. I drive myself harder, edit with ruthlessness. Raising the bar with each new project. Showing I'm worthy of this modest talent I've been giving. Holding up my throbbing hands proudly, proof I haven't been shirking...
Causes Cliff Burns Supports
The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Community Radio