Chemo Helped me to Write

November 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Health, Writing, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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When I was writing Ben’s Challenge, my characters sometimes hid from me – at least, that is what it seemed like to me. There were many times when I sat at the computer or with my notebook and nothing came to me.

I didn’t know where the story was going to, or what event was about to happen to challenge and bring out my characters. Mostly, that would happen when I had other things on my mind, when I couldn’t settle to work.

The strange thing was, that on my chemo days, I was hardly ever stuck. After I had been connected up, had chatted with the lovely nursing staff and got to know a bit about the other patient who might be sharing the room with me, I’d take up my pen and I would write. Often, by the end of my two to three hour session, I would have a whole chapter written.

Eventually,  Ben’s Challenge was finished, and it is now published as both a printed book and an e-book. Now I am writing a follow-up. It isn’t a sequel as such as in when a story continues in a saga, it is just another story about Ben and his life back in the late 1950s.

The book started with a rush, and I soon had three chapters written. Then is stopped. It was another six months before I managed to get three more chapters written. One reasons for this is the time I have had to spend promoting and selling the first book. However, I want to get back into Ben’s life and that of the other characters; some of them the same as before, and some new ones. But none of the characters are speaking to me.

It is only recently that I have realised that it is not the characters who aren’t speaking with me, but that, if they are speaking, I am too distracted to listen. I am distracted by the promotion and selling; by everyday life; and especially by the computer, with its emails, e-zines on writing, interesting blogs – and Facebook.

When I was undergoing chemo, I was in a recliner chair, ‘tied’ to a drip. I couldn’t go anywhere. There were only two of us in the room most of the time, and the other patient would often be reading or dozing for much of the time. The only interruption would be when a nurse came in to check or change the drip. But, most of all, there was no computer. Thus, I could focus on what I was doing, listen to the characters and write their story.

Obviously, the strength of my will power – or won’t power – is sadly lacking. I can’t keep the internet unconnected; I can’t close the door on my husband and on the other people who require my attention. So, if I do not develop that power to say ‘no’ and stick with it, the only way I can listen and write is when I go out somewhere – to the lake, to a coffee shop, to somewhere that life and the computer do not distract me.

So, because it is not my characters who aren’t talking to me, but me who is shutting them out, I just have to open the door to them again. But I don’t want another series of chemo treatments to help me do it!

(c) Linda Visman

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