Or: What a SciFi/Fantasy Writer Can Learn From A Gatoraid Bottle
I met and did battle with a worthy foe this weekend. He was tenacious and strong, with the heart of a warrior. But in the end, I went home and he went in the recycle bin. As a consequence, I woke up on the Saturday morning of my planned Writing Retreat with a swollen, infected finger and a bunch of crazy ideas about the connections between being a scifi/fantasy writer and life.
I think the first parallel is rather obvious. The fact that a Gatoraid bottle being so frickin’ impossible to open that I scraped half the skin off my finger trying to get a drink from that evil thing has now become a story worthy of a blog post and the words “warrior” “evil” and “triumphant” is, I think, a consequence of being a writer. It colors our lives in a way that makes it impossible to talk about the cap on a bottle of a sports drink being stuck without making it into an epic drama.
But what really made me write this post was to point out a way, not at all related to writing, that being a reader of scifi/fantasy, or of anything really, can improve your everyday life. See, that Gatoraid bottle, (which I FINALLY got open) took a chunk of skin out of the side of my finger. Now, me being that kind of girl, I was inclined to ignore it. Bit of soap and water and once it stopped bleeding, life goes on. At least, until I woke up in the morning and the area was hot, red, shiny, and there was a suspiciously yellow lump that yielded nasty, gooey pus when I squeezed it. Nice.
So as I’m showering and planning where I need to go to buy a first aid kit, it occurred to me that the last description I’d read of an infected cut was in a scifi book. (Specifically Hunger Games.) In fact, it’s something you encounter fairly often, especially in fantasy, what with all the swords and epic battles and primitive conditions and the fact that there always seems to be a need to take a journey on foot through the winderness. (You get a horse if you’re lucky.) And I thought that it was a good thing I knew all the symptoms from all that reading I’d done.
(Not that I wouldn’t have pulled up WebMD if I hadn’t known why my finger was hot and swollen and oozing puss. Not that I think I would have made it to 33 with two kids I haven’t killed yet and not have known what that meant already.)
Still, the moral of the story (yep, there was a point) is: READ! You never know what you’ll learn or when you’ll need it.
Oh, and in spite of my (hugely over-dramatized) encounter with a (minor, almost nonexistent) medical emergency, I managed to average 9,000 words a day over my three day weekend. That’s right folks. Nine Thousand Words a Day.