A few days ago I had to go into hospital for a minor operation. Like most people, I was nervous and tried not to think
about the actual procedure. Instead I tried to focus on the more pleasant things – such as choosing which book to pack to fill the time before I went down to theatre, going shopping for new slippers (fruitless – they were all old ladies’ styles!) and the relief I would feel when it was all over. If I had dwelt solely on the operation I would have been stressed, anxious and maybe I would’ve chickened out of the whole thing altogether.
Sitting in the ward in a backless gown, thick white anti-embollism stockings and paper pants (too much information – sorry!), it struck me that it was all a bit like attempting a novel. The thought of the huge task of slogging away at 80,000 words strikes fear, anxiety and stress into the heart of any writer – and scares many of us away from starting chapter 1 at all. But taking our eyes off the task ahead and instead concentrating on the preparation (character sketches, plot, chapter outlines etc) and allowing ourselves (brief!) flights of fancy to a future book launch party makes things less daunting – allowing us to slip into the actual writing without too much worry, just as I slipped under the anaesthetic (well, after a couple of attempts by the anaesthetist at finding a vein for his needle).
So don’t let that unknown black hole of hard work frighten you off attempting a longer piece of writing – concentrate on the pleasanter bits to ease yourself into it.
#1 by Julia on December 19, 2011 - 12:13 pm
Hope you’re feeling OK – and well done for finding something positive to write about, even under those circumstances!
#2 by blogaboutwriting on December 19, 2011 - 12:15 pm
Eek, yes, I agree Sally – hospitals – and novelwriting – are both very scary!! I had an operation once and when I look back I think – how did I do that? (obviously, I didn’t have to do much, the surgeon did it!) but that’s probably how people who’ve written a novel feel. But at the time, you just get on with it, don’t you? You don’t think too much about the overall thing, you just concentrate on one bit at a time (I was very disappointed that I didn’t get a ‘pre med’ because my friend had promised me I’d go all woozy and it would be lovely!). Anyway, glad you are out in one piece and it’s all over! You can enjoy Christmas now without that hanging over you.
#3 by Sally Jenkins on December 19, 2011 - 1:08 pm
Helen & Julia – thanks for the kind thoughts. I didn’t get the ‘lovely’ pre-med either, Helen. One minute I was wide awake with a needle being put in my arm & the next I was back in the ward with it all over. Best way I suppose!
#4 by Jenny Francis on December 19, 2011 - 1:58 pm
I do hope you are now fighting fit, take it easy and let every one else do the work.
Have a happy and healthy Christmas
#5 by susanjanejones on December 19, 2011 - 6:39 pm
Hope you’re feeling o.k Sally. Good to focus on something. Enjoy Christmas, and Take a break have a slot where they want to know about your operation. They pay quite well for it. I sent an entry, but I think I moaned a bit much. How about giving it a whirl? Plenty of resting time for writing.
#6 by Celia on December 19, 2011 - 7:10 pm
Yep, that’s the way, hammerblow and out, cold bucket of water in the face as a wake-up.
Hope you’re feeling OK now, Sally!
#7 by Sally Jenkins on December 19, 2011 - 7:49 pm
Jenny, Susan & Celia – thanks for taking the time to wish me well. I’m definitely on the mend – just a bit sore. I’ll have a look at that TAB slot, Susan – thanks for letting me know about it.
#8 by Alice on December 19, 2011 - 11:10 pm
Glad to hear you’re feeling better.
When I’m sitting in the dentist’s chair (and hating every minute of it!), I like to imagine myself lying on a tropical beach somewhere…I find it helps though think I’ll always hate going to the dentist!!
#9 by Bev Morley on December 20, 2011 - 7:55 am
I hope you are a little less sore now and well on the way to recovery. I totally agree with your comparison. Focusing on the preparation can be a real distraction from the daunting task ahead, novel or operation! I also like to think about how good I will feel once the task is complete. I feel much more driven if I know the pain I am about to endure will yield a great result.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a succesful and prosperous New Year Sally,
#10 by Sally Jenkins on December 20, 2011 - 5:36 pm
Alice – you’re right imagining yourself elsewhere is always the best policy at the dentist!
Bev – Thanks for your good wishes. That’s a good idea to think how good you will feel once the task is complete. It detracts from the pain of hard work/surgery/dentist etc!
#11 by Ann Ankers on December 21, 2011 - 9:32 am
What a horrid thing to have to do at Christmas. And, how brave and positive you are! I would be moaning and groaning and wobegonning all over the place. Hope you feel better soon and thank you for keeping us all up to date with your postings, I look forward to them everytime I open my emails.
Thank you and get well soon.
#12 by Sally Jenkins on December 21, 2011 - 4:56 pm
Hi Annie – thanks for dropping by with your good wishes and I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Best wishes and successful writing in 2012. Keep in touch.
#13 by Jackie Paulson (Author) on December 22, 2011 - 6:13 am
I am glad you are feeling better and that the hospital operation went fast. I think it makes us grateful when we endure these things. My sisters son went in for a “routine” procedure on his foot, and “caught” a rare type of anyarsum sorry cannot spell. I know how worry does keep us busy as ladies, it’s just in our “blood.” I worry about everything and that is just that. Have a delightful holiday coming in a few days…and thanks for stopping by my blogs…Wishing you well…Jackie Paulson♥
#14 by Debbie on December 22, 2011 - 3:39 pm
I hope you’re feeling better.Have a lovely Christmas and best wishes for 2012!
#15 by Sally Jenkins on December 22, 2011 - 7:41 pm
Jackie – Worrying certainly does seem to be the perogative of the female sex and especially if you’re a mother. Sorry to hear about your nephew and hope he’s better now. Have a lovely Xmas.
Debbie – Thanks for the kind words and all the best to you too for 2012!