Saturday, June 06, 2009

Escape Literature

I’ve spent the past week sitting in a hospital again.  My husband had surgery on Monday, and will be lying around with tubes sticking out of him at least until Saturday. (I’m writing this on Friday night).  The surgery went well, by the way.  Thanks for asking.

The operation lasted eight - count’em - eight hours, during all eight of which I sat in the waiting room, alternatively staring at the wall and reading.

A good book can get you through a lot.  I have Deborah Turrell Atkinson to thank for helping me endure Monday.  I read Pleasing the Dead from cover to cover, following Storm Kayama around Maui.  I hesitate to admit that I read the entire book in one day.  As I have said repeatedly (for of what use is a good line if you can’t  repeat it at least a dozen times?), when someone tells me she read one of my books in one sitting, I am complimented, but it always occurs to me that it took me a year to write the thing, so the least she could do is read it five or six times.

Since then, I’ve been passing the time sitting in Don’s room with Ruth Rendell for company, getting a lesson in master writing and wondering if I’m going to live long enough to get that good.

It would certainly help if I were able to practice the craft with any consistency, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s that constant distraction and virtual brain death is really bad for creativity.

When I was a kid, I started writing stories as a distraction from family trauma.  I created worlds and escaped into them.  I don’t know the reasons why Debby Atkinson and Ruth Rendell, Colleen McCullough, Scott Turow, and all the thousands of other authors write, but it’s been forcefully brought home to me over the past months that authors do a service to humanity as important as any artist, humanitarian, or theologian.  

They help us cope.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I hope everything starts going better for you. You're right about reading--it's the best, least-expensive escape there is. I'm a Ruth Rendall fan, too...she provides some really wonderful reads.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Donis, I hope this surgery solves all of Don's health glitches! Thank you for reading my book, too--I am honored and hope it provided some much-needed distraction. I, too, find immense comfort in the pages of books. Music, too--makes me wonder (again) why the arts are so undervalued in terms of reimbursements.

John Corrigan said...

Get well wishes from the Corrigans!