Under the weather post-NaNo blues

After making so much progress towards my novel’s eventual resolution, I got sick. It’s not bad, no boo-hoo, woe-is-me illness, but it’s amazing how neither the brain nor the fingers want to work late at night when you’re under the weather. Being sick takes you out of the action in a number of ways.

However, it’s not that I haven’t worked like that before–when I was teaching, that was called November to March–but it’s a little different now; I was creating before, but I was creating based on my experiences and my own readings of MacBeth, To Kill A Mockingbird, and books where I could understand Fahrenheit 451 and Julius Caesar though I had never received instruction in those specific tomes. I was relying on both rote memorization, instinct, and perhaps some critical thinking. There were a lot of tools at my disposal, internal, external, and inter-web. Fiction writing adds several other elements to the mix. Rather than make things easier, they somehow seem to be competing for energy, which is something that I don’t have much of at the moment.

I’ve tried to think back on the variety of books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen, and I realized that illnesses are hardly ever covered, unless you’re talking about either mental illness or life-threatening disease. Sure, Ron, Hermione, and Harry had to go visit Madam Pomfrey once or twice (per novel), but (and I’m taking a fair deal of license here), when do you hear of Danielle Steele’s heroine being stuck in bed with a fever? When does Dirk Pitt have the chills and night sweats not caused by some explosion or some infection? When does James Bond have to stop by the chemist to pick up some NyQuil? I’ll admit, it isn’t compelling, but it does allow some semblance of reality (that’s verisimilitude for you word-a-day calendar junkies). I’ll also admit that my first novel doesn’t have so much as a sniffle, but my second novel, still tentatively titled “Big Man” does.

Tadashi Mori is not a big man. He is not my author avatar, but he is someone with whom I can relate in terms of interests and occupation. While I did not draw specific incidences, I certainly did draw from experience as a teacher when I started that book. Coincidentally, the teaching background grows thinner and thinner as the novel progresses. However, at one point, about midway through the book, Mori has to deal with a bad cold and exhaustion. Yes, it is a cold and not pneumonia or SARS or sleeping sickness, but it is still an illness. During the ten or so pages in which Mori is ill, it gave me a chance to expand the role of a secondary character and elevate a tertiary (or even quaternary) character to a secondary role. As I see it, in retrospect, Mori didn’t have the energy to carry the scene on his own, so a couple of other characters had to do the lifting for him.

Ultimately, this has become a rambling excuse for why I have hardly written all week. I haven’t had the energy. Despite this, as one devoted reader mentioned, it does give me the chance to recharge, to think about characters and their place. All the while, I’ve got a couple of other stories idling in the back of my mind, and I’m ready to look at this one from the perspective of “well, that’s one time through, let’s try it again.”

Happy reading, happy writing, and don’t get sick!

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2 Responses to “Under the weather post-NaNo blues”

  1. Novel Girl Says:

    If you need some inspiration, I’ve compiled a post on my most helpful ideas: http://rebeccaberto.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/ideas-on-beating-writers-block/

    • jowenenglish Says:

      Rebecca,

      I looked at your blog. It has a great presentation. I’ll definitely keep it in mind as I write. I enjoyed your ten commandments, and like the fact that you’re supporting self-published e-writers as well. It is a very promising blog; it will be the first one that I’ve actually “followed.” Keep pursuing your dream!

      Best wishes,

      Jim

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