In case anybody was wondering, I am still alive.


This morning, I swear I nearly choked to death on my own saliva.  I know – I wouldn’t have believed it possible either, but truth is stranger than fiction.  One minute I was stretching, arms up blissfully above my head, expanding my rib cage, breathing deeply – and the next I had inhaled saliva deep into my bronchial passages. There was a brief moment where no air wanted to enter my lungs.  The next moment I was coughing and wheezing like an asthmatic cow, with David pounding on the locked door to the bathroom and demanding to know whether I was going to make it or not.

Not the best way to start the day, although admittedly better than inhaling a large foreign object and winding up dead. The next life threatening event was a kamikaze yellow jacket, the insect equivalent of suicide bomber action.  One minute I’m driving down the road with my window open, the next something hard whips in through the window and smacks me in the face.  A little yelp, a little swerve action, and I carry on with a few muttered imprecations.  When I stop driving and look for the missile, there it is, lying twitching on the seat right next to my leg.

I feel personally targeted.  In fact, it seemed unsafe to eat my lunch, and if I wasn’t on call I’d consider climbing into bed and staying there all day for my safety and the safety of others.

Blissfully ignorant of his own compromised security, teenage son #1 is now asking me to take him driving. “Later,” I say, thinking there is no way this side of a frozen hell that I am getting in the car with a student driver today.

Maybe, though, I might write.

This too is a scary proposition.  Swimming North has taken some unexpected liberties with its own structure and plot, and I’m not entirely clear where we are headed.  It happened a few days ago.  I was editing and revising happily along when it struck me that there was an entirely new way to look at this book.  One minute I was like a little kid at the beach, playing at the edge of the waves, and the next I was surfing one of those giant and potentially lethal monster waves like they show at the IMAX.

I tried to tell myself there was a choice: safe, peaceful paddling vs. adrenaline producing challenge.  And then I realized there wasn’t a choice.  I only know one way to write: follow the story.

This time, after the idea dropped me back off at the beach, cold and dripping and somewhat frightened, I tried to be sensible.  “This time I’ll plan it,”  I said.  “I’ll plot, like the organized writers do.  It will save time and energy.”

As it turns out, I can’t work this way.  I don’t know what I think until I write.  I can’t visualize where my characters are, or what they are thinking and feeling, until the words emerge from my typing fingers.

Normally, I love working this way.  Starting a new book is an adventure.  I don’t know where I’m going, or who I’m going with, and it all unfolds around me as I write.

This time I already have the first half of the book and an ending I want to keep, and I’m really not sure where the story is going to take me.  But I have no alternative other than to follow its lead.  Except to stop writing altogether, and that is really no longer a possibility.

So, the adventure continues, in real life and on the page.  If I stop procrastinating, I might even get a few words written today.