I've discovered a parallel between writing a novel and my own health!
Last June, I began having recurring heal pain. By Christmas, my right heel was swollen and painful, making it hard to get up from a sedentary position. Often, it would be excruciating and I'd (ungracefully) stagger from Point A to Point B. Was it just arthritis or something else?
After several Dr. visits and two months of PT, it was determined that I had chronic Achilles tendonitis. A heel spur that I'd had for years had enlarged and was irritating my Achilles tendon. Ouch! Since we had already planned a trip to Iceland, my Dr. put me in an orthotic brace for four months to reduce the swelling so I'd be able to stand for long periods at work and eventually, hike with minimal pain. Fortunately it worked! (See below right)
Since it's a chronic condition that won't improve with time, I'll be having surgery this Monday to correct the problem. Now, don't get me wrong. It is a pain-- but I'm THANKFUL! This condition is fully correctable. But all my life, I've been extremely active--especially on foot. So this recovery--six weeks of non-weight-bearing rest, will be especially challenging.
All year long, while my Achilles tendon was smarting, I was busy researching and writing my next book. It was going fairly well, and then this summer, it went in for its surgery--a developmental edit! I've remarked before on how awesome my editor is. Jenny lays it on the line, and tells me exactly how it is. She gives constructive criticism that leads to ideas on how to make the plot and/or characterizations stronger. This time around, she challenged me, "let's take you to the next level with this one." Hearing just a few positives and a long string of issues to work on regarding my manuscript was every bit as painful as my heel on a bad day. But we authors have to let criticism sink in or roll off. And stupid is the writer who doesn't accept criticism and take wise advise from professionals.
I knew I'd need everything she'd said to sink IN--deeply.
Jenny knows me only too well. "The next level" is exactly where I want to go, but the journey will be painful. I'll have to add and change things, cut ideas that had been precious, and rewrite the ending which I discovered was historically inaccurate!!! (Yikes--I'm glad I figured THAT out before publication!) These next few weeks will be laborious and excruciating--physically and writing-wise. I already have some ideas rolling about inside my noggin, but I'll be entering new territory, stretching my brain along with my characters, coming up with alternatives, and cross-referencing to wind up with a stream-lined plot and hopefully introduce new material backing up those many changes. It will take more time than I was expecting, but then, why rush? Just point the way to that next level and I'll scramble, hoist, or climb up razor wire to get there.
Yep, I'll literally be writing one-legged for the next six weeks. My temporary disability will force me to sit and figure out just how to reach that "next level" . And the whole time I'll be healing physically--granting my heel the time it needs to become whole again.
It will prolong the editing process and final manuscript. It will not be easy. I will get frustrated, and probably shed tears. I'll have to stop, begin again, rack my brain, throw out ideas to my husband and to Jenny, but rise to the occasion, I will. Both healing physically and writing one day at a time will be my goal.
For those of you anxiously awaiting my next book, sorry for the delay. But I'd rather take my time and make it the BEST IT CAN BE than have you read the first fifty pages, shut the book and say to yourself, "This one really fell short compared to the Antonius Trilogy."
Sometimes we recognize parallels in our life that wind up blending together to produce a product that is stronger, fool-proof, and proves we can rise to the occasion. Now I'm not sure how well I'll "rise" at age 60 from Achilles tendonitis, but I will heal. And hopefully at the same time, my manuscript will be tighter and more un-put-downable as a result of this ironic parallel.
Dear readers, please don't give up on me! Kindly be patient and in the meantime, READ ON!