The Cut: The High Point of My Career Came With a Physical Breakdown
An excerpt from The Cut by New York Magazine, The High Point of My Career Came With a Physical Breakdown, written by as told to .
“When my second novel, The Immortalists, sold to a publisher at a level that allowed me to leave my day job in social services and write full time — a rare and extraordinary privilege in the arts — I was wildly grateful. I also felt a lot of pressure. My first novel, The Anatomy of Dreams, hadn’t found a wide readership or sold many copies. My new publisher had taken a chance on me, and I desperately wanted the book to do well. I was given the kind of publicity and touring opportunities I’d dreamed of even before the book actually came out. […]
My migraines were getting worse and worse, but I just thought, I have to push through. Once I get home, I’ll be able to rest. Then my migraines escalated to an incredibly intense pain level — a 14-day migraine during a short tour in California landed me in the ER for the first time in my life. I reluctantly canceled the next day’s event but continued doing them through the end of the year. It was the best time in my life professionally, and I felt so lucky for that. But my body was breaking down.
Just after the publication of the paperback, my pain became daily, which lasted almost a year. Days went by when I didn’t even open my computer because I couldn’t tolerate screens at all. Medication didn’t work, which was terrifying. I had put my writing, my ambition, and my success over not just my health but my experience of life. I’m still processing the conflict of feeling that adrenaline, excitement, and gratitude during what turned out to be the most physically difficult time in my life.”