Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Calling It In

Last week my husband had a terrible head cold. He had a fever, a cough tearing through his chest and enough misery to fuel a concentration camp. I begged him to call in sick to work and rest until he got better. He didn't. Instead, he got up early every morning, went to work and hung on until the weekend.
This week, I have his cold. More than anything, I just want to call in sick.  My kids still need to be sent off to school, I still have to answer e-mails, work on my book and keep my family going. My husband is my inspiration for why I can't just throw in the towel.
So what do we as writers do when writing is our work and we feel like calling it in?
Sometimes we do. Sometimes we curl up in a ball and focus on surviving. That's Okay too. You can't write anything if you're dead.
However, if you feel something, anything, good, bad, or ugly...write it down. Maybe you'll end up with a character who is sick, depressed, grieving, recovering from a drunken brawl, or whatever you're going throu. Its all fodder for the mind.
I had a kid, who was suffering from the same disease I do, diabetes. His parents wanted to get through to him and make him understand that he needed to take care of himself. The problem...they didn't understand. No one can understand something they've never been through. I wrote down some memories I had from my own struggle and sent them to him. I don't know if it helped him, but it did wonders for me. At times when I think I'm too tired, or too sick to work. I write down what it feels like. It creates story ideas, connections from physical sensations to words and helps me get better at expressing myself.
Today I'll leave a part of this piece, what I wrote about beeng a diabetic at 13. If you need a character who is sick, a teenager, or diagnosed with an incurable disease, it might help. If not, take this challenge.
Take a difficult moment from your childhood, your past, your workday, or even the last few hours and write it down as if you're interviewing a character. Really try to connect with the emotion, whatever it is good, bad, or ugly and keep it on hand for inspiration. The next time you feel like calling it on your determination to make something good of it instead.

      Save Me?!
They’re lecturing to me again. “Don’t you realize the damage you are doing to your body?”
The speeches sound like the piercing whine of my little sister when she throws a tantrum. Its just sound…annoying…but useless.
They don’t know. They don’t feel what I do. All the speeches and lectures are just adults who know everything, and nothing. “You’re going to kill yourself acting like this.”
“It just takes a little control.”
“I know it’s not easy, but in the long run you’ll thank me.”
And they wonder why I roll my eyes. All their talk about kidney damage, blindness, heart attack…blah, blah, blah. I’m thirteen. That’s not happening to me. Maybe in a billion years when I’m an adult and I have to worry about it, but not now. Right now most days are fine. Today my biggest problem is telling them my blood sugar. It’s like a test. If I pass they just want my numbers to never be high again. If I fail they get mad. My dad’s face looks like he’s the one with the high blood sugar. Mom gets this look in her eyes like the color is trying to form the words ’I told you so.”
They want me to care about what my blood sugar is doing to my body, but how can I when their panic and disappointment is the only thing hurting me.
My head hurts. I swear there is a monkey in there screaming his head off and trying to break my skull open with a jack hammer. The insulin will bring my blood sugar down and it will get better, but man I wish I could kill that monkey.
It feels  like I have steam coming out of my ears and a vise tightens around my chest when I try to breathe. I’m so thirsty I want to stand under a 400 foot waterfall and let the cold water pour through me until the dry cotton feeling in my mouth is gone. It won’t be though. No matter how much water I dump down my throat, I’m still dying of thirst. My tongue sticks to my teeth and my throat tears open every time I swallow.
I would go get another glass of water but my back and legs hurt so much I swear a live electric wire is sending burning jolts up and down my arms and legs. My back aches and I can’t curl up tight enough to make the throb go away.
I’m so tired. I hope the insulin works in the next few hours.
Good Luck and keep writing!

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