Sickness and Snowstorms

January (and now February) has been one long string of disruption. Illness invaded my house and has not yet left. First Preschooler had a stomach bug, then me, then my husband. And no sooner had we all gotten over that than Preschooler was down with a cold—which I now have.

Add to that incessant snowstorms and Arctic temperatures in our area. Luckily, we have not had a truly paralyzing storm, but it has been enough to force constant school closures or two-hour delayed openings—and a delayed opening means no school for Preschooler.

So between the illnesses and the school closures, my writing time has been scattered and minimal. When I had the stomach bug, my co-bloggers at The Author Chronicles picked up the Thursday post I normally compile. That’s one great benefit of having a group blog—people can pick up the slack if someone has something unexpected happen.

But, even though my time was crazy, I still managed to get everything else I needed finished, too. I’m not quite sure how, but things got done. Which makes me think that the lesson here is that we don’t need as much time to do things as we think we do. Certainly, you do need to have focus and drive in the smaller window of time you have. But maybe we can step away from the rat race a little more than we think we can, and still find success.

Because success isn’t always measured in output. Success can also be found in nursing yourself with a good book and a nap, or snuggling with a feverish 4-year-old to make her feel better, or going out to play in the snow. None of those things can be plotted on a productivity chart, but all are necessary for our success as human beings.

How about you? Are you spending more time and energy being “busy” than you need to? Are you spending enough time on the things that connect you to your emotional life?

Sickness as a Stakes-Raiser

Usually I don’t have too much trouble coming up with blog posts, but this week was hard. Why? Because I’ve been sick all week and my head is as fuzzy as a Muppet (can you tell I have a toddler?). Feverish, sinus pressure, cold-then-hot-then-cold, runny nose, cough. Unpleasant, but not fatal in the course of my normal life. It’s just a cold.

But suppose you felt that way when your life WAS on the line?

A plain old cold can be fatal if it stops you from performing at your best in a life-or-death situation. And I got to thinking that I don’t see illness (other than fatal illnesses like cancer) in books too often. So maybe sometime I will see what happens if my character catches a cold at the wrong time.

You all know how you feel. Weak. Exhausted. Shivery. You can’t breathe properly. You can’t sleep. You can’t hear very well because your ears are plugged. You can’t think because the mucus is clogging your brain. Sometimes your eyes are sensitive to light.

Any one of those things can be a problem if you are facing a villain, but all of them together is formidable. I’ve seen plenty of books where INJURY gives the main character issues, but not illness.

So next time I need to raise the stakes, maybe I’ll just have someone get a cold.

How about you? Can you think of any books where a minor illness at the wrong time played a major role in upping the stakes for the main character?

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