Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Thinking, Writing, and Illness

with 2 comments

Most of us have to deal with illness, and somehow get things done. But when you’re sick (as I am right now), and you are an independent writer and editor, what are you supposed to do about it?

That sounds ridiculous to say, doesn’t it? Because we all struggle with illness. Very few people have charmed lives, and even they have to deal with the illnesses of beloved family and friends (or, sometimes, four-footed companions).

Still, when you’re in my position, and need your mind to do your work, but your mind isn’t at its best, and your body definitely isn’t either…what’s to do?

I’ve been trying to plot a book. This isn’t normally what I do, as I take an idea and run with it; I’m a pantser, not a plotter (that is, I sit down and write whatever it is, and then fix it on the fly). But plotting can’t hurt me, and thus, I’m trying to do that now and see where I get.

This is an exercise given to me by my friend Chris Nuttall (and if you don’t know Chris’s work already, go to Amazon and put his name in there; that’ll give you an idea). I often edit Chris’s work (my latest for him include THE ZERO EQUATION and THUNDER AND LIGHTNING, co-written by Leo Champion; I intend to talk more about both books in upcoming days, once I’ve regained a bit of my energy), and I know how he tends to work; he comes up with plots first, then writes, then tweaks (sometimes, if warranted), then sends to me (or another editor), then fixes, then I (or another editor) may see it one last time if the changes warrant it — otherwise, it goes up for sale. (This is for Chris’s independent work. The work he does through Twilight Times Books, Elsewhen Press, and 47North is a different story.)

I think his thought is interesting. And what I’m trying to do now is figure out who my characters are, what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and just what’s going to happen along the way. (I also know, me being me, that some of this is subject to change. But it gives me a starting point, and it makes me feel a whole lot better to have work to do along with my editing. Which, by the way, I can still do — I just need a bit more time to do it right now, that’s all.)**

So, there’s thought behind this. Reasoning, purpose, function, and my hope is that it’ll flow into a form that is sensible, logical, and yet feels lifelike and real, like my “pantser” (seat of the pants, natch) novels do. (Or at least I hope they do.)

I’m glad to be able to continue to edit, though a bit slower than usual. I’m also glad that my friends, including Chris, came up with something for me to do of a writing nature so I wouldn’t feel stir-crazy while I’m not at my best. (Writing takes more out of me than editing, just as playing music takes more out of me, physically, than composing it. Though all of them require a goodly amount of mental and physical energy, some are easier to do while ill than others. I hope this makes some sense.)

Now for the big question: What do you do when you feel lousy, but are a creative person and need to express yourself? I’d appreciate hearing any tips you might have in the comments.

———-

**I suppose this is a good time to explain what I’m dealing with: exacerbation of asthma/bronchitis, an ear infection, plus a particularly wicked sinus infection. (I have two antibiotics, a steroid, and have to use my rescue inhaler four times a day until this is gone. When I get sick, I guess it’s go big, or go home. Except I am home…)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 12, 2018 at 6:44 am

Posted in Books, Informational Stuff, Writing

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2 Responses

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  1. Ouch, sorry to hear you’re unwell, Barb! Here’s a digital hug and hope you’ll get better soon. ❤️

    I’m not much of a creative person when I’m ill; I do best when I’m free of burdens of any sort (like work! House chores! Illnesses! Distractions! 😱), but of course, being free of burden isn’t something we encounter every day. 😛

    I try to set a time in the afternoon / evening to do my creative stuff, then try and clear as much work/chores/etc before that. In the case of an illness, I try and rest as much as possible before (kind of like charging up my battery 😛) and then do my creative thing for as long as I can / feel like it! Then again, I’m a hobbyist writer, so I’m not sure the same applies to you being an independent editor and writer. 😶

    I’m a plotter myself, though I have a tendency to turn into a pantser partway through and having to throw part of my plot away, because my characters come to life and end up doing things as they like. 😆

    Do get well soon, Barb, and good luck with your writing!

    Nicolle

    March 14, 2018 at 8:55 pm

    • Thanks, Nicolle. I shall keep trying. It’s a work in progress, no lie… ah, well.

      *hugs* back to you, and hopes that all will be well for you, too.

      And yes, resting as much as possible is definitely a good idea whether you make your living at this (as I try hard to do) or you are doing it as a supplement to something else.

      Barb Caffrey

      March 15, 2018 at 7:02 am


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