Waiting Game and Writing

Hello, friends,

Since my last check-in, I had the blood work I mentioned.  I expected my iron to be low and possibly my B-12.  But I never expected what happened instead…  My “sed rate” (short for erythrocyte sedimentation rate, also known as ESR) came back high.  It’s supposed to be between 0 and 20, and mine was 125.  (Zoinks!)

bariumSoooo… needless to say, my doctor ordered a bunch of extra tests, more blood work, a CAT scan (hence the nasty barium you see here!), an x-ray, and other stuff.  The x-ray already came back fine.  The second sed rate test came back elevated again.  And I don’t yet know the ANA and Rheumatoid Factor test results, nor the CAT scan results.  As far as I know, I have to go back again next week for yet another sed rate test.  I don’t know what he’ll order next depending on the other results.  But until I know something, I’m still plugging away trying to make it through the day without puking or needing a nap!  I’ll keep you posted as I learn anything.

In other news… Since I’ve been too exhausted to spend much time at the computer writing anything new, I’ve been taking some of my printed manuscripts to bed and trying to commit to editing at least a few pages each night.  I believe I’ve made it through all the obvious typos, misspellings, bad or missing punctuation, etc.  (Printing it out really makes quite a difference in catching these little blunders as far as not seeing the same thing as my eyes have passed over on the computer screen so many times before.)

I’ve let a few people (including a few of you) read some of these manuscripts before, and many of you had some remarkable suggestions.  But there was one manuscript – The Prison – which I’ve only let a couple of people even see.  It was the first one I wrote, and I wrote it before I learned and became obsessed with “The Rules.”  You may remember my frustrations when my exact-word orientation from my Autism got in the way of “just writing” once I learned there were so many dos and don’ts.  I got so hung up on The Rules, that I wasn’t able to “just write” anymore, and as I’ve been re-reading, I wince as I see how much I held back.

Don’t get me wrong, I (now) think The Rules are a good thing (for the most part), though my Autistic brain still wishes they were called “The Suggestions” instead.  What I realized was that my first manuscript had so much more “feeling” behind it and felt less “mechanical” than the others.  When I asked myself why, I came to a conclusion:  I used a lot more similes and strong descriptions in The Prison than I used in my other works.   The sad thing is, I know exactly why I did this as well…  I got so stuck on “Show Don’t Tell” (of The Rules), that I was afraid I was “telling” too much, so I deleted almost all instances of these types of phrases and sentences in my subsequent work.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of my problem was due to an article I read that instructed me:  “In order to show and not tell, you have to write as if you’re describing what’s happening to a blind person.”  So, I did just that.  And in doing so, I added a lot of stage direction (a LOT of stage direction!) as well as clumsy description that sounded as if I were telling the story of cyborgs rather than people!

For example:  After learning The Rules and allowing myself to become obsessed with adhering to them — or else!–, I wrote:

Neil’s face turned scarlet as he jumped to his feet.  His chair fell to the floor, and he narrowed his eyes.  “What did you do?” 

Rivers grabbed her arm as hot soup splattered on her.  Tears formed in her eyes.  “I’m sorry.”

He grabbed her shoulders tightly and put his face close to hers, then without saying a word, he released her and spun on his heel.


Ugh!  Isn’t that just awful?  It feels so cold and mechanical.  I’m embarrassed to think I actually allowed people to read my work like that!

Now, I’ve changed a lot of sterile scenes like that to be something more like this:

Neil jumped to his feet.  His face was flaming, and he appeared to be six inches taller than he already was. His eyes penetrated Rivers’ as he glared at her with repugnance.  “What did you do?” 

Rivers’ voice caught in her throat, and she began to tremble. “I’m sorry,” she said under her breath.  Tears streamed like twin rivulets down her cheeks as she tried to ignore the hot soup that splattered on her arm.

He huffed and grabbed her shoulders, digging his fingers into her flesh.  He pulled her so close, she could feel his hot breath on her face. 

She attempted to explain, but her voice caught in her throat like a lump of clay suffocating her.  Before she could speak, he grimaced and released her as if she had the plague.


Isn’t that much better?  The sad thing is, that’s roughly how I wrote in the first place, (though I admit I had a bad habit of changing points of view as well as making the scenes too short and choppy…  Those are some of The Rules that are actually a good idea to follow.)  So, as I’ve been able, I’ve been slowly making the changes to a lot of these old works and trying to get them in their best possible shape once and for all.

 Anyway, that’s what I’ve up to lately, friends.  What about YOU?

30 thoughts on “Waiting Game and Writing

  1. I reckon writing to ‘rules’ is a pointless thing that can easily destroy creativity, originality, one’s own personal style of writing etc. etc. There are no rules when writing, anarchy must prevail in that regard! You are far too clever young Rachel to need rules.

      • By the way, I almost forgot on the previous thread…yes, I am still writing the main book of fiction. Did a whole load of stuff on it over Christmas. My only impediment is consistency of quality. I’m pleased with the ‘main event’ aspects of what I’ve written yet my ‘building scenes’ twixt events I still struggle with. Main events are surreal as I want them; building the in-betweens I find that surreal aspect is not there. Still, a lot of my recent poetry reflects/is part stolen from the book and some of my older poems in different format are making their merry way into the book! The fact that it will not sell is a thing I am truly not bothered about. I just want to write a fiction to sit aside my poetry books. I’ll get there.

      • It will be superb, I’m sure! I can’t wait to read it. 🙂 Also, if it helps, I’ve found that rather than editing as you go, just get it written, then go back and doctor it up the way you like… then you don’t have as many different “energy levels” as far as writing really well one day, and so-so the next day for whatever reason such as having things going on around you, being ill, etc. Let me know when you’re ready for poetry book 3. 🙂

      • Thanks Rachel. I have tried that. Just writing and repeating to myself, ‘edit later; when it’s finished’ but it gives me insomnia (true). However, it has to be done one day soon. A third book of poetry is more or less there but there is no way I’d throw it at you (so to speak) while you’re dealing with something much more important than words. Good to read about your son on FB. Well done to the lad. I like good news.

      • I’d be happy to help with your poetry book. That’s not really work — it’s fun. 🙂 Yes, I’m so happy to see Jeremy happy again. I don’t think he realized how depressed he was with the old job.

      • Thanks for that Rachel. It is a fine thing your lad is happy again. We went through the same thing after G finished uni and, a café job aside, he couldn’t get a proper job. Manna from heaven when he built his website, designed his products and advised he was going to do the thing he knew best. All the best of good fortune to Jeremy.

  2. I sure hope they figure out what the heck is going on with your health. The writing improves with time. I hid away some of my earliest work and chose to work on new stuff because it was so bad.

  3. Only the things that can impair communication need to be fixed. The rest is the creative stuff that needs unrestricted access to all those wonderful parts of speech that communicate the emotional connection without which there is no point to telling a story. “Rules” don’t rule: Creative communication rules!

  4. Sorry you are still not feeling well, and everything is so uncertain about your condition(s). I hope you find answers–and feel better–soon!
    I admire you for being able to work while not feeling well. Good luck with everything. Big hugs!

  5. i’m so sorry you are still going through these challenges, rachel. it is amazing that you are working on all of this when dealing with all of that. i hope that your medical mystery is solved very soon.

  6. Wow! That made one hell of a difference! Well done. I imagine its a big job if you’re doing all of your books. On your health, any news yet? The good thing is, your doctor is very thorough. Hope you get some answers and start feeling better soon. Xxx

  7. What a difference on the rewrite, Rachael! Sorry you’re still unwell. Get well soon. I too have enormous reservations about The Rules and I also wonder if I wrote better before I knew them.

  8. Rachel, I had that exact problem with my stories and actually went back to revise them. But I love the way your story sounds after you ditch the rules–they have much more life to them. The Rules have lost their power with me. I will always consider them when I write, but if I am not happy with the end result, I think it’s best to stay true to how I would originally write the story. Thanks Rachel for the update and I hope the next update will be on your improving health 🙂

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