Since I've been working on my book about writing blocks, friends have been keeping an eye out for useful articles to send me. So it was that I saw "The Perils of the Pen" in The Guardian about AL Kennedy's recent bouts of illness which she has linked to overwork. Kennedy says it is definitely not to do with her trade: "If I were a plumber, I'd do too much plumbing and get sick, but nobody ever says plumbing makes you ill; it's always the arts." Though, in fact, I dare say there are aspects of plumbing that do effect your health adversely, just as there are with other jobs. All have their occupational hazards.
Kennedy goes further and appears to contradict the idea that writing can be therapeutic, although it's not clear whether she means this just for herself. She does the classic thing of using the generic "you" - as in, you become ill because "you haven't learnt how to process emotions fully and immediately". Who is this "you"? And does she include herself in it? Because, in my experience, writing can help in just such a processing of emotions.
The interviewer, Sarah Crown, also suggests Kennedy suffers because, "Writing isn't just a job for [her]: she has pushed all the furniture of her life - sleep, food, health - to the edges in order to make space for the central creative enterprise."
And, of course, I would never argue that writing in an unhealthy life style can offer any kind of answer. I wrote for four hours today (and yes my shoulder is a bit stiff!) But I also went for a swim, ate some nourishing soup and allowed myself to feel cared for. And I think my creative enterprise (which is indeed central) is the better for it.