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!)
Soooo… 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?