Apparently, there’s nothing like a sinus infection to get you writing again. Or my writer’s block just happened to end in the middle of one, whatever. It was pretty poor timing because I simultaneously wanted to write and wanted to sleep off the pain. Then I’d sit down to write, and get so dizzy that I couldn’t, and be forced to take a nap.
I’m just about over the infection now, and happily it did clear up with a bit of medical help and I didn’t need antibiotics. That was the first time I ever had a sinus infection and I hope it never happens again because it sucked pretty badly. On the plus side, I now know how to write about a new type of head pain. Like, if I ever write some sort of sci-fi where some alien worm thing goes through someone’s nose to eat their brain, I know exactly how I would describe that.
Oh flip why did I just say that now I can’t stop picturing how horrible that would be uuuuugh
Anyway, that’s kind of the funny thing I’ve noticed about myself, whenever anything really painful happens to me. The silver lining is always, “Well now I know how to write about that!” and I know eventually, I’m gonna, because what’s the point of writing if you don’t make your characters suffer infinitely, right?
Actually. three different incidents of pain have been pretty useful for me in my current WIP, Death’s Tear. There’s a part where the MC passes out from blood loss, and a later part where he’s tortured by the god Pain himself. I know how it feels to be suffering from major blood loss from the time I donated blood – whoa hold on don’t call me a drama queen yet. I’m five foot even and barely weigh more than a hundred pounds; in high school, I managed to get to 120, the minimum to be able to donate. Which is exciting for me because everyone I talk to is always like, “I have such small veins they can never find them!” or, “I hate needles!” and I don’t much like pain but I can deal with needles and my veins are friggun huge so it was gonna be awesome.
Then I was there for two literal hours recovering and they almost called me an ambulance to take me to the hospital so they could give me my blood back. They had me lay down and eat snacks and drink juice, then slowly sit up, then stand up so they could take my blood pressure, and at first it was way, way low, and then it was way, way high, and both times I almost threw up and blacked out in the time it took them to take my blood pressure. And I didn’t even get to relax and say, “Oh well, guess I’ll miss some classes!” because it was near lunch time and I worked at the cafeteria during lunch and I kept stressing my boss would be pissed at me for ditching work and she totally was the next day until I explained what happened.
That was the same year where in drama class, we were playing Improv Freeze Tag, and the whole class was pretty bad at it so I was trying to make things more interesting and this person put their hands behind their back and I yelled “Freeze!” and took their place and started in with, “You might have captured me, but you’ll never take me alive!” and went to do a jump-kick (my friends said it looked like I was gonna do a cool kung-fu move so it started off well), but then I randomly blacked out (no seriously. I have no idea what happened) and the first thing that came back was hearing the whole class go “Ooooh!” like, “That’s gotta hurt” kind of “oooh!” and all I could think was, “oh no.” And then I was in a lot of pain from falling down. Just from jumping slightly. Also I split my chin open on…probably my knuckle? Needed five stitches. I was so pissed that my reign as the only member of my family who had never had stitches came to an end. That moment was one of my Top Three Most Painful Things That Have Happened To Me.
So when Tristan is wandering a cave dying of blood loss, I know what that feels like. And when he blacks out and collapses, I know what waking up to THAT feels like.
What does being tortured by Pain feel like? I’m going off of a different Top Three moment- in college, I had the hardest time focusing on my homework because of my ADD and it was becoming a real problem, so I asked for medical help. I was put on an amphetamine. It was glorious and worked beautifully. I mean it freaked me out at first my brain was working so differently but then it was glorious. I decided to go off of the med over the summer; my psychiatrist said I could just stop taking it, that no one ever had withdrawals.
She was wrong.
I usually describe the experience as “my soul being ripped slowly from my body” but “tortured by the literal god of Pain” is good too.
So, you know, don’t do drugs, I guess. Actually honestly the thing that makes me most upset about the whole thing is now that amphetamine doesn’t do anything for me anymore except make me really thirsty. I miss having a sane, quiet brain. I used to get things done.
Oh, I also wouldn’t have thought to have Tristan scrape all the skin off his elbow when he falls down some stairs if that hadn’t happened to me when I fell down our stairs. Stupid steep basement stairs.
I don’t really recommend getting your masochist on so you can write better, but things that hurt, even a lot, are going to happen to you because you live in the kind of world where that’s a thing. What I do recommend is that when you go through a new, painful experience, you find a silver lining in it by writing down at least one description of how you’re feeling. Not only does composing prose of my predicament as if it’d happened to another help me feel better about what’s happening to me, but I also never remember it as crisply years and years later when I actually use the experience. I mean, I remember blood loss was dizzy and nauseating, but it’s journal entries that help me remember winking in and out of consciousness when standing, brain fog, what the rest of my body felt like. Maybe you don’t really want to journal your pain, but give Future You an important writing resource and do it anyway.
As an important aspect of writing is writing real life, even in fiction, there’s not a better way to make your character’s painful experiences more real than by describing your own.