The Power of the Lived ExperiencePosted: July 11, 2011
I am using the “time off” (ha) to map out my second book. In an effort to not have another injured athlete return from dire straits to go on to win I was struggling with a believable premise. Had a solid B plot and characters mapped out etc…and was really battling with the A line.
Then fate intervened.
Now, by this time, the five of you who regularly read this blog are aware of the back surgery I had to have to correct a fractured vertebrae, completely obliterated disk and severely compressed sciatic nerve. Blah blah blah. One of the side effects that about 1% of those who have this surgery encounter is paralysis. I seem to have hit the .05% jackpot. I woke up on day one with complete paralysis of both legs which slowly migrated to just one leg the left. I am now down to paralysis at or below the left knee, no feeling in the left ankle/foot/toes, etc…
While struggling with what this means (lots and lots of rehab), I realized that I was suddenly handed the solution to my original dilemma! I have a character with issues! I mean, she had ’em before, but not she’s got major ones that will not be solved by the end of book two (thereby, dear editor…ahem), setting up book three.
What I am learning in this process of daily documenting my own struggles (I cannot, say, just “run out to Starbucks” when the mood strikes), etc…let alone finding the bathroom in the middle of the night without endangering me, the row of meds on the bathroom counter, or the poor dog sleeping faithfully beside my bed, is that writing is not only my way of processing, but it is my way of expressing my frustration at the above. My anger at once again being in the damned small % of the population that either can’t have kids (effing blood disorder), is prone to diabetes/brain cancer (thank you maternal family line AND birthfather), am bloody good and growing cysts, scar tissue, and yes, melanoma. That super effing small portion of the population that gets breast cancer at under age 25. The realization that as the last member standing of two lines of a family tree, I got all the crap, leftover roots that are destined in some way to fuck me over.
The deeper issue then becomes how much of that goes into Lil’s story? The paralysis? Oh yeah. The oft-fucked up (but not at all uncommon) weird famly dynamics? Maybe. I’m sure in some way or nother that’ll play out in some book or another. Writers process. We process what we know.
Right now, the crap hand I’ve been dealth this month has helped me to process my way out of a hole into which I had dug a character. And helped to flesh out what I think in the end will be a sensationally good book. Not that I’m at all proud of it, by the way, but I looked back and read today some of what I wrote and thought, “Damn, that’s not half-bad!”
Of course, in the end, the final, pentultimate devine kudo will be a tiny note in the margin of my manuscript by the amazing KVF who may write “fine writing.” Or even better, “very fine writing.” And then I know I will have struck gold.
In going through what I have written thus far I am trying to not self-edit, which as the funtastic Karin just noted, can be detrimental to all of us. I’m having to follow my own advice: close your eyes and write, we can put the pretty on later.
I’m beginning to think that applies to the paralysis as well. Close your eyes and sweat, we can put the pretty on later.
Tonight: Watching HP7a to gear up for midnight showing of HP7b on Thurs night/Friday am.