Tag Archive for: sick

Writing While Sick

by Linda Rodriguez
I’m a day late getting this blog posted. My apologies, but I’d been dealing with illness, which suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse. I spent yesterday and last night absolutely miserable with fever and chills and vomiting, and I just lost track of my blogging days. But better late than never.
Anyone who knows many professional writers (at least writers
of novels) knows that writers are self-employed and don’t get holidays or
vacation leave. That’s why, when everyone else is posting photos of their
holiday fun at the pool and the park on Memorial Day or Labor Day, writers are
posting their first-draft word counts or hours of revision/copy edits/page
proofs .

But what about sick leave? Nope, none of that, either. When
a writer is ill, s/he has to decide between going to bed like a normal person
when sick or trying to soldier on to finish the current book. Still, it’s not
the same as working on a holiday or during the time everyone else is on
vacation. Whether we can actually work depends on the type of work we try to do
and the type of illness we’re suffering.

If it’s just a cold, we can probably manage most of our
writing tasks, though the creative flow for first-draft work can be very hard
to achieve. If it’s been bad flu or some other more serious illness and we’re
in that stage of the worst is over but we’re weak and spacy, it’s even a good
fit for first-draft writing. We’re located much more in the right brain than we
usually are. However, it’s not at all easy to gain the sharp focus required for
revision, editing, dealing with copy edits, or proofreading. 

If our illness is something more debilitating, we may only
be able to write a short blog post—or perhaps not even that. In those cases, we
have no choice but to give up the work until our strength returns at least
somewhat. Those times, though we can hardly afford them if our writing is
paying the bills, can often hold a hidden benefit as we drift in fever or
weakness and dream often bizarre new characters and stories.

It’s all grist for our little cottage industry of spinning
the straw of daily existence into the gold of story. How does illness affect
your writing? How does it affect your reading? I know when I’m super ill, I
want to read Agatha Christie and other comfort novels that I’ve read many times
before. What’s your favorite illness reading?

Pharmaceutical Dreaming

A few weeks ago, I had a bout of bronchitis, which ended up
triggering my asthma. That meant coughing, lots of big, loud coughing spasms. I
mean, coughing that rattles the windows in my house and those of my neighbors.
(I have been known to break ribs from coughing before.) Antibiotics had the
bronchitis under control quickly, but the asthma—and the coughing—was another
matter. Consequently, I’m still inhaling and nebulizing as I try to shake the
last of it, and in order to sleep at night without hacking my lungs out, I’m taking
codeine cough medicine.
This means weird dreams. That phrase seems redundant. Dreams
are, by nature, non-rational, of course. But these drugged dreams are something
else. Much more vivid and bizarre. The dead walk and talk again in my dreams
right now. My children, the youngest of whom is about to turn thirty, are babes
in arms and toddlers again in these dreams, even as I’m still a child myself, a
sibling to my own kids. Every morning I wake in wonder at the strange, technicolor
movies I’ve just experienced.
Since I’m a writer, I write them down in my journal. Each
morning I sit with my cup of tea and record another outlandish dream—a house
suddenly filled with feral cats and I can’t figure out how they’re getting in
or how to keep them out, a strange conference at an unknown university where I’m
responsible for one of the programs when hundreds of ninjas attack, a ballroom
dancing scene where I’m Ginger Rogers in chiffon and stilettos and only my unknown
partner’s hand keeps me from floating off to join all the other people living
on big multicolored clouds.
Last night, I had a dream in which an editor from Random
House visited me in Kansas City to tell me that Random House had published a
book in my Skeet Bannion series written by someone else, the first of many, and
had sold it for a television series, leaving me protesting that they couldn’t
do that since Random House is not my publisher and crying to my agent and my
actual editor at my actual publisher, “What can we do? They’re stealing my
I’m a writer, so you’d think some of these dreams would
spark stories or books. I have had the germs of stories and books come to me in
my dreams before, but not in medicated dreams like these. I know from sad
experience that none of these will offer me anything more than a moment’s entertainment
and wonder. I suppose that, if I wrote literary short fiction in the surreal
school of writing, I might find them useful, but for someone who writes mystery
novels and thrillers that must make sense to the average reader, these dreams
are a waste of my unconscious’s creative skills.
What they do for me as a writer, however, is remind me that
I have at my disposal an incredibly creative partner in that very unconscious.
I simply have to find ways to guide its creativity and to ground it in the
details of reality. That inventive part of my mind works constantly coming up
with all kinds of stories, good, bad, bizarre, and humdrum. It’s up to me to
harness and channel all that imaginative energy. Still, it would be nice if it
could just toss up a nice, usable, Academy-Award-worthy story now and then.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my nightly excursion
into the world of flying cars and dogs and Nazi storm troopers chasing me at a
writers conference and other exciting adventures.

Confessions of a sort of ill, but totally in denial writer

By:  Joelle
I’m sick.  For those
that follow my twitter feed or are Facebook friends for me, I doubt this comes
as a newsflash.  In the last three
months, I have managed to come down with a sinus infection, bronchitis,
pneumonia and pleurisy.  (Who gets
pleurisy???)   I’m now on my third course
of antibiotics (this one is also used for anthrax) and my third inhaler. (Go
Yep.  I’m sick.
The one thing I’ve learned over the course of this
three-month odyssey is that I suck at being sick.   Not because I whine or cry or pout.  (Well, okay, the pouting thing might have
happened when the steroids wore off this last time and my breathing stopped
working so well.  Sue me!)  My problem is that I’m stubborn.  I don’t want to be sick so I try to pretend
that I’m not.  I mean, there are still
pages to be written, pages to be edited, books to be promoted, dinners to cook,
an entire house to be moved, a five-year-old to run after and…
You get the point.
Perhaps my real problem is that I like work.  (Yes, I’m deranged.) And really, when you
think about it, writing a book involves a lot of sitting.  That’s rest—right?  I mean, how much better would it be if I were
to just sit in a chair and do nothing as opposed to typing away on my keyboard?
Okay, I know I have a problem.  But I can’t help it.   So many people that I know hate their jobs. 

When they’re home sick, they love the excuse
to get away from their typical daily grind. 
I LOVE my job.  Never in my
wildest imaginations did I think that someone would ever pay me to make up
stuff or that readers would want to spend time with the characters I’ve
created.  So when someone suggest that I
stop writing in order to rest….I can’t! 
I just can’t. 

But I’m trying.  And
if you have any suggestions as to how to best do that (without giving up the
fun stuff like writing), I’m listening. 
And I’m pretty sure my mother is, too!
Oh – and in case you missed it – END ME A TENOR came out
last week!  Hurray.  Also, the trailer for my first young adult
novel- THE TESTING – debuted on EW.com in case you want to check it out.  See…who has time to be sick when such fun
stuff is happening?  (Sigh…back to