# of pages revised: 35
# of agents queried: 2
I’ve been terribly sick for the past few days. I’ve been lying around, alternately drinking tea and moaning. Last night I got to that loopy stage of sickness (perhaps brought on by cough syrup) in which I was asking the cat to heal me with her “kitty magic” and babbling on the phone to my boyfriend, asking him if he was moaning because he was getting poked in the crotch by a unicorn. (Turns out no, he was moaning because he’s getting sick, too.)
Because of this sickness, I haven’t done much writing. I’ve still managed to have three Skype tutoring sessions, do some revision work on my novel, and complete a project for my math curriculum job, but none of these require much creative energy, which is what I feel my sickness has taken from me.
On the other hand, am I lacking creative energy, or am I just lacking motivation?
I’m worried I’m using this sickness as yet another procrastination technique. I really should be working on a new novel, no matter how I feel. I have the very bare bones of an idea, but for weeks now I haven’t been able to sit down and start working on it. I’ve had all sort of lame reasons: oh, it’s the holidays, oh, I can’t concentrate when other people are around, oh, I can’t work when I don’t have my desk set up. And now, oh, I can’t write because my body is aching and my ears feel like they’re stuffed with rags.
I’m worried I’m never going to be comfortable enough to actually get started.
Yesterday I was thinking how lucky I am that I don’t live in the middle ages. (I soothe myself with this thought all the time.) Being sick as a peasant in the middle ages probably sucked a lot. I wouldn’t be able to spend a day resting – I’d still have to get up at dawn because those cows aren’t going to milk themselves and the Lord will take away our hovel if we don’t harvest his crops. Not being able to rest and recuperate would probably make me sicker, so eventually they’d slap some leeches on me, and things would probably go downhill from there.
All of which reminds me of a phone conversation I had with my friend Nikki the other day. We were discussing the fact that in the middle ages there was only one bed per household and everyone slept in it: mom, dad, brothers and sisters, aunties, even the family livestock.
“How,” I questioned, “did they get their eight hours of sleep with their proper REM cycles?”
“I’m sure they didn’t,” Nikki said. “That’s why now we live longer and are healthier.”
It’s true, now we all sleep in our own rooms, in our own beds, with black-out curtains and sleep-sound machines. There are even those mattresses for couples – you know the commercials: you can bounce a bowling ball on the right side of the mattress and the left side won’t move an inch. We have all the comforts available now for deep, peaceful sleep, and yet look at all the people who still have trouble sleeping.
“How the heck did the people in the middle ages get a good night’s sleep with their pig snorting at the foot of the bed?” I pondered.
And then I remembered something I’d read about people in the middle ages. For the most part, they were used to the discomforts of their life. Take lice, for example. It’s not that they enjoyed having lice, but having lice was normal and a constant fact of life, so they became indifferent to them and hardly noticed the lice as they went about their days.
“So that’s how they were able to sleep all piled up in the bed with people and animals,” I told Nikki. “They were used to it. And plus, they were probably so tired from working in the fields all day, they didn’t even think about it. They just passed out the minute they hit the bed, whether there were goats in there with them or not.”
Speaking of sleep, I had trouble sleeping last night because my nose was so stuffed up. It wasn’t all bad, though, because as I lay awake, mouth-breathing and cursing my weak body for its sickliness, I started to get some ideas for this novel that’s been building inside of me. I started hearing the narrator’s voice and imagining scenes between her and another character. There is another novel in me. It’s trying to come out.
When I woke up this morning, I was still feeling sick. I made it through two and a half hours of Skype tutoring, but it was pretty rough. I was snuffling and becoming hoarse from all the talking. Worst of all, I kept feeling like I had to sneeze, but it wouldn’t come out.
“Wait,” I told Natalia, holding up my hand, “I’m about to sneeze.” My eyes started to water, and my nose was tingling. We both waited. But nothing happened. “Never mind,” I told her.
Feeling like you’re about to sneeze and then not: pure torture.
We went back to our discussion of toes. Natalia had asked if she could call them “feet fingers,” and I’d told her she could, but people would probably laugh. “No,”I said, “we just call them t-t—ACHOO!” Suddenly I sneezed loudly and violently.
“I am to say bless you?” Natalia asked.
“Yes.” I sighed with relief. I felt so much better.
Feeling the build-up of a big sneeze and then letting it out: pure pleasure.
* * *
Right now I’m in that torturous stage where the novel is building up – my eyes are watering, my nose is tingling – but it won’t come out. I know, though, that when I finally get it out of my system, I’m going to feel so good.
And I’m going to work on being able to write no matter what my circumstances or surroundings. Because while people on the fanciest of all mattresses in the quietest of all rooms can have trouble sleeping, peasants in a straw bed full of pigs can get a good night’s rest. It’s all about what you’re used to, and how hard you worked on the fields.
P.S. If this post makes no sense, I blame the cough syrup
Feet-fingers is adorable, is it not? Come up with similar words that a non-native English speaker might say.