Not one idea for a post this morning or even yesterday or the day before. I want to write something. But my head is full of life concerns, not literary concerns. How do I, as a writer, deal with this? Frustration.
I’m actually more concerned about which book to take to read in the hospital. I cannot make up my mind. From past experience, I know that it’s impossible to get into a literary novel. Genre stories are better. So, I’m looking at mysteries and science fiction. On the mysteries side: P. D. James because I haven’t read her in years and I have a couple of her books already. A friend has offered a Jo Nesbo mystery, and I’m intensely interested in reading his work. On the science fiction side, I’m considering a novel by Charles Stross. I’m also toying with possibly taking We by Eugene Zamiatin. I’m already taking the wonderful magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction so maybe a mystery would be better.
Hospital reading is highly personal. What to read when you’re not feeling all that great? In the past, I’ve taken a Kathy Reichs mystery, a literary mystery that I could not get into and still have not read, a Janet Evanovich mystery that was also quite funny, and magazines like The Atlantic, The Writer, and Granta. Sometimes general interest magazines are really the best bet. They’re easier to read in small chunks and go with the flow of constant interruptions.
Sometimes, though, I’ve not wanted to read anything. In that case, I’ve watched TV for hours and hours. The hospital has cable TV — I do not. I remember being really surprised that now cable TV channels run commercials. I thought the whole point of paid television was NOT to run commercials. What a disappointment. During one hospital stay, I discovered the delightful and very funny show Monk on cable. It was the perfect antidote to that particular hospital experience.
This time, I am taking my Sony Walkman which also has a radio, and a few CDs. I want to see if music has a beneficial effect on my experience. I am also taking my Falun gong (qigong energy exercises) with me to do when I’m able to stand for longer than five minutes.
What about writing? Well, I am taking a notebook and pens, and my pocket calendar in which to note events. I discovered during my last post-op hospitalization, that morphine does not enhance writing but makes it physically more difficult to do. I wrote very slowly and dozed between words. My handwriting also was barely legible. Eventually, when I wasn’t on the morphine anymore, my writing improved and I wrote more.
Hospital stays are ironic, actually. You expect to sleep a lot, rest in bed, not do much, right? Well, that’s not really the case, at least for surgical patients. I expect that I’ll be roused out of bed early the next day in order to stand and walk a few steps. By evening of the first day, I expect to have walked at least five times and be able to walk on my own to the bathroom and back. There are a LOT of interruptions — lab techs for blood draws, nurse assistants to check vitals, doctors with their residents, physical or occupational therapists to start you on the exercises to help build your strength so you can be discharged eventually, volunteers with offers of magazines or conversation, and so on. And the welcome interruptions of friends visiting.
And look at this: I’ve written nearly 600 words about topics related to writing that deal with my upcoming hospitalization. There really is truth to the saying to just write even if your head is empty….