One of the questions I was asked when I solicited essay topics for this blog, quite a while ago now, WanderingWidget on LJ asked me for my “favourite position” for writing in. (I’m pretty sure there was a double-meaning in that…)
But it is something interesting to talk about now for a couple of reasons — first because I recently had major surgery that impacted this, second because I got a new desk at work.
Back in April of last year I started having back pain which I assumed was just “getting older”. Never assume pain is normal; unless you have chronic pain from a diagnosed cause, pain is not normal. Pain signifies a problem. But because I assumed it was, I didn’t see a doctor about it until August, when I was starting to become unable to sit for long periods of time and when it became evident that the pain increased after eating. As it turned out, I had gallstones. Not only did I have gallstones, but once the gallstones were removed and I shared around the photo of my gallbladder and the stones therein, several doctors of my acquaintance said “Well. That’s not normal.” I basically had a bag of dice rattling around in my chest cavity.
This is gross, I realise.
The upshot is, I had to relearn how to move, and specifically how to sit, without pain. Given that by the end of my quality Gallbladder time I was in chronic severe pain, basically anything other than chronic severe pain felt like no pain at all. So it was very easy, at the time, to adjust my posture when sitting to avoid pain.
I also moved locations at work, and our new location had all-new everything, including cubicles with desks on levers that you could raise or lower in order to adjust them from sit-desks to standing-desks. Standing desks CHANGED MY LIFE.
Because even aside from all the pain, here’s the thing: I hate sitting down.
I prefer to either stand up or lie down. Sitting is strange and uncomfortable even after I fixed my posture and had an organ removed. I can’t explain it; I just don’t care to sit. So for anything, but especially for writing, I prefer not to be sitting.
Standing has the advantage of giving you more room to fidget; you can shift your weight, stand on one foot, bounce on your toes, shake your ass, roll your shoulders. Lying, of course, takes less energy and is 100% easier on your entire body, but lying down is perilously close to sleeping, and I am a fellow who likes his sleep.
Sometimes, just for the hell of it, I imagine other writers doing what I do — Steinbeck standing at a typewriter set atop a couple of barrels in some shack somewhere in the wilderness, or Jane Austen trying to keep her inkwell level on her bed as she lies on her stomach with her feet in the air, scrawling along (though I know Austen, at least, had to sit while writing, in busy sitting rooms where she rarely had much time to herself). It’s fun to imagine how people wrote, and what their mannerisms might have been.
But most of the time when I write — as I was when I wrote this — I am propped on pillows in bed in front of a laptop, probably doing dreadful things to my spine, knocking my heels together as I work.