by Barbara D'Amato
Quite a few years ago, I was about 70 pages into a new novel when one of my children, then ten years old, got sick. Now, young children get sick a lot—colds, flu, stomach upsets, it’s a fun time for parents. But this was different. He was totally tired, and this was a kid who could have a bad cold and still be up and running around. He had a headache, chills, a severe sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes, symptoms that could easily have been leukemia. I took him to the doctor.
[Don’t get too worried. This has a happy ending.]
The doctor was worried, too, and wanted to do a blood test. Oh. Oh, gee.
Now why do they send in blood on Thursday or Friday, and the stupid lab can’t get to it or get it done right away, so you worry all weekend, and then the results get to the doctor after he’s left the office on Monday so you don’t hear until Tuesday? But don’t get me started.
Something went wrong with the first test. They needed more blood. I hoped there was no more sinister reason. My son wasn’t pleased. Another three days went by. Results!
The good news was that it was mononucleosis.
So, I went back to my book in progress. Mind you, this whole event took only two weeks. But the book was dead. I couldn’t remember who the characters were or why they were acting this way. I didn’t care what was happening to them. I started a different book.
I am mentioning this experience because it was one in which work didn’t help. There have been other times with other problems when I was able to write through them. The major book-killers, other than this one, have been when we were moving. Moving is ghastly.
Sometimes writing helps you get through difficulties; sometimes the problems triumph. I’m wondering what experiences other people have had in writing through problems. How did you deal with them? I’d like to hear.