The Writing Life
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

A Writer Gets Sick

January is slow to get going.  You've got the hoopla surrounding New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day, and then a bunch of football games, and then things kinda slow down and level off.  People trudge back to work and their normal, non-holiday lives, and finally the month gets itself in gear.

And once it does, I love January.

Yeah, I know, weird.

But I love the clarity of it.  Clear, cold days.  (Well, okay if you live in Oregon there's lots of rainy days, too.) No Christmas decorations or lights or bustle to clog things up.  Just winter.  Bare trees, grey days. Clarity. There's been ideas aplenty coming in the dark days of December and time to organize them and think about grand goals in the downtime after Christmas. You know where you're going and you're eager to get there.  Clarity.

So I always anticipate January getting its little head of steam up and settling in so I can enjoy it.

Too bad this year I started the year with a virulent stomach virus.

Shortly after the Ducks won the Rose Bowl, it hit me out of nowhere.  Literally.  I was fine one minute, vomiting the next.  (I'll spare you the rest of the gory details.  Trust me, they were gory.  And you are thanking me for sparing you them.)

But it's interesting when a writer gets sick and can do nothing but lie around. 

(Except when I could see straight I read: ripped through State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, which you should go arm wrestle for a copy right now and also a YA novel called Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve.)

Interesting because the writer then thinks.

About such things as the phrase "get sick."  One of the connotations of the word "get" is that it's a prize, or a bonus, or a gift.  As in, you "get" to do something.  So perhaps I should ponder the prize, bonus, or gift of being sick?

Well, the above-mentioned reading was one.  And the fact that I got to lie about and do nothing was another.  And then there was the free pass out of housework of any kind.  Hmm, I'm starting to see why people become hypochrondriacs.  Think there's any money in it?

But the best thing was that ideas for my writing came fast and furious. Even in my feverish state.  Probably because of my feverish state.  Take away the noise and the business, and images and plots come into focus.  And then, that made me miss, with a mad intensity, my writing.  And that made me forget hypochondria as my new careeer and vow to get well so I could get back to my writing.

And so here I am. 

Biggest take-away from a week of illness?  Writing is the best job in the world, not only because you get to be a writer, but because in being a writer you make sense of the world.

Even when you're sick.

Have you ever had an epiphany when you were sick?

**A reminder that there's still time to sign up for my Make Money Writing class, which begins on Tuesday.  Yay.  Its going to be fun, and informative.  I believe that there's a way to make money writing that you will love and adore and I want to help you find it.  So check out the class page.


0 thoughts on “A Writer Gets Sick

  1. Zan Marie

    Oh goodness, Charlotte! Do take care…but enjoy the reading time, too.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    Thanks, Zan Marie. Its a delicate balance. The reading is so fun I’m tempted to pretend I’m still sick.

  3. Elizabeth (Beth) Westmark

    Glad you’re feeling better! I was sick between Christmas & New Year’s with a once-a-decade upper respiratory virus. And yes — the fever dreams meshed with book reading and sleeping to produce, if not an epiphany, at least a surge of positive energy and eagerness for writing and also reading. I’m going now to order Ann Patchett’s book — thanks for the heads-up.

  4. Charlotte Dixon

    Beth, now that I can sort of think straight again, I remember reading on your blog that you were sick! And yeah, last time I was this sick was at least a decade ago. I hope you love the book as much as I did. A little slow to get going, but once it does, wow. She combines a snappy plot worthy of a thriller with amazing literary style.

  5. Carole Jane Treggett

    Charlotte, so glad you spared your other readers the gory details, but I just replayed my own very recent experience taking care of my hubby when he was hit with the same thing just before Christmas. Fun times, fun times. Good thing I’m not squeamish :D

    Glad there was a silver lining and you got all those juicy ideas and got lovesick for the writing once again. Love your take-away and I’ll remember that privilege if ever I start to feel whiny (with or without a fever to blame).

    By the way, I loved Bel Canto. On your recommendation, I’m going to pick up State of Wonder and put it on my reading stack too.

  6. J.D. Frost

    Congratulation to the Ducks, Charlotte. Sorry this thing zapped you but glad you’re better. Thanks for the heads up on the books. I wish you the very best 2012!

  7. Jessica Baverstock

    I know here you’re talking about flu and other types of sickness which only last for one or two weeks, but I have been sick with an unknown illness for over 4 years now. While it has many down sides, a definite up side is that it has given me more time to write.

    When I am able to keep the stress out of writing, I find it provides me with energy and positivity to get me through life. And the more I write, the more I feel I am reaching the point where my work is good enough to be sent out into the world.

    That’s my epiphany.

  8. Patrick Ross

    I’m so sorry to hear you were hit with a bug, Charlotte. It’s not uncommon this time of year, of course, but it’s never welcome. Somehow I’ve managed to survive here at my VT residency as one of the only people not to get sick. That probably means I’ll catch something on the train ride home!

    Can’t say I’ve ever had an epiphany while sick, except that one time with food poisoning when the epiphany was that I shouldn’t have eaten that burrito.

  9. Charlotte Dixon

    J.D. Frost, thanks for congrats on Ducks. It was a long time coming! And happy new year to you, your book should be there today or Monday.

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    Jessica, wow, my weeny little case of the flu pales compared to 4 years of being ill. It is amazing and wonderful to me that you can see any bright side to it at all. And thank God one of those bright sides is that it gives you time to write, cuz you’re a great writer!

  11. Charlotte Dixon

    Carole Jane, My husband has this crud now, too, and he’s taking even longer to get over it. I make a somewhat cranky nurse, try as I might. I liked State of Wonder even better than Bel Canto, hope you enjoy it, too.

  12. Charlotte Dixon

    Patrick, and I’d wager a bet that the thought of a burrito was repugnant for quite some time afterwards as well. I can’t quite stomach the thought of chicken noodle soup, last thing I ate before, well, you know what, happened. Thanks for taking time from you MFA residency to come comment!

  13. Carole Jane Treggett

    I completely agree with your assessment of Jessica’s writing, Charlotte, and also would like to echo your admiration for her perseverance through such a long illness. Inspiring. You’re both wonderful :)

  14. Charlotte Dixon

    And your pretty darn wonderful, too, Carole Jane!

  15. Jessica Baverstock

    Thank you both for your words of encouragement. :)

    I’ve been ill for so long that I kind of take the symptoms for granted and allow my limitations to frustrate me. It’s good every now and then to step back, acknowledge the illness and appreciate what I am able to accomplish. :)

    Thank you for being supportive.

  16. Charlotte Dixon

    And from my stand point, you accomplish a LOT! So hang in there, and thank you for being a loyal reader and good cyber friend.

  17. Kasi

    Hi Charlotte!
    I am looking into the Writer’s Loft and had already found you and your blog. I even recently told my editor about you.
    I sent an email to Rabbi (Dr) Rami Shapiro and received a response from him. You were one of the 2 instructors he suggested and thought would be a good fit for me, which was encouraging b/c I had already thought the same. I will look into all of the details more and will look forward to meeting you soon, even if I am not in your class.
    I wanted to share a blog I wrote on Sept 08, 2011. It is called, “Dancing in the Rain … The Attack of the Intestines.” Thought you may enjoy reading that! My blog site is
    See you soon

  18. Suzanne Lilly

    I never had an epiphany while sick, but I’m glad to know you’re feeling better. I noticed you’ve been quiet on Twitter, now we know why. Welcome back!

  19. Charlotte Dixon

    Hi Kasi, So excited that you’re considering the Loft! I’ll be there in Nash in just over a week and that makes me happy, I love coming to Nashville. It’ll be great to meet you. And I’ll go read your blog post. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Charlotte Dixon

    Suzanne, yes I’ve had a minimal presence on Twitter recently! Last week was all about doing the bare minimum I possibly could, but I’m feeling so much better I’ll be back at it this week. Thanks for coming by.

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