Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Writer vs. The Flu Bug (and the lesson it taught me)

I’m incredibly stubborn when it comes to admitting I’m sick. I’ll ignore the signs and symptoms and force myself to press on until I finally have no choice but to admit defeat. But sometimes it’s in the moments where you can do nothing but sleep, drink clear liquids, and attempt to make sense of fever-muddled thoughts that you find the most incredible revelations.

That’s exactly what happened this past week. I’d been speaking more often than normal, so of course I had a scratchy throat (pay no mind that half the people I knew had been down with a flu bug that starts with a sore throat and ends with…well, let’s say it’s better not to discuss some things in polite company). I continued on with my meetings, kept taking my daily walks, stayed up late writing, reading, planning lessons for my youth, and looking for job leads. Once Friday evening rolled around, however, I realized I was fighting a losing battle. Come Saturday I couldn’t stand without the room spinning.

So I did what every good writer does. I grabbed a bunch of books on my craft and decided to catch up on some “light” reading while staying in bed. As the day progressed I finally broke down and called my brother who lives a couple miles from me and asked him if he could pick up a couple things at the store. Between what he saw when he dropped by and a phone conversation with my sister who lives a couple hours away, there was enough family concern that my brother drove 30 minutes to get my mom, had her pack an overnight bag, and drove her back to my apartment to take care of me for a few days. Cue the unanswered knock on the door that fortunately happened to be unlocked (an oddity for me) that led my mom to finding me crumpled in a near unconscious, burning up heap on the floor.

The past few days have been an incredible reminder to me that no matter how old I am or stubborn I get, if physically able, there is nothing that will stop my mom from rushing to my aid to care for me when I’m too ill to care for myself. It also resulted in me finally realizing a vital key factor that had been missing from my book: a mother’s unconditional and unfailing love.

It had been there all along, but it was buried beneath so many layers that it wasn’t easily visible either to my main character (who is adopted and struggles with identity issues) or to me.

I just recently started my rewrite on the book based largely on the notes from my critique group  (and by rewrite I mean ala my lesson from a college professor who would make me rewrite a story from beginning to end and cut the story down by a certain percent, rather than doing a line-by-line edit), and this time I feel more confident going in  — especially after this weekend’s revelation.

All of which is further proof that when it comes to a writer’s life there is no such thing as a unusable experience. (Though I would have preferred to skip the whole three-day “apartment-turned-gravitron” ride!)


  1. Pray you continue to feel better. Love your blog. So true--everything we go through, even the things we'd rather skip, are for a purpose.

  2. Thank you, Sandy. For both your well wishes and your feedback on my blog. I really have enjoyed this little writing experiment!

  3. Glad you're feeling better and doubly grateful that nothing more serious than a fever happened! Keep at it with the writing - you're an incredible encouragement, each and every day.