Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stories, stories everywhere...

...and never time to write.

My father had a stroke last week. Being the reliable child (a frightening thought), I made the journey to New England to help my mother. I spent about a week chauffeuring her to the regional hospital and watching my father make a recovery so fast that he amazed all his doctors. The brain scan revealed minimal damage, and he's regaining movement on his left side. Within a couple days of his stroke, he was sitting up and alert enough to ask for his knitting.

Not what you expected a 70-year-old man to be asking for? It makes a good segue into what I want to think out loud about here.

It's a hallmark question of people who don't write, or are very new to it: where do you get your ideas? The short answer is: they're everywhere. You're constantly tripping over them.

Hospitals are especially packed with stories. Simply walking through an ICU -- trying not to look into the other rooms, because people have a right to privacy, but incapable of not stealing a glance or two -- threw plenty of ideas at me. 

In one room, a young guy flat on his back, on a ventilator, with an officer standing by his bed. Later, I saw the officer walk by and caught "Correctional Facility" on his shoulder patch.

A kid, under ten, with half his/her head shaved and the other half making a bed-head punk of him/her.

A silver-haired man with a strawberry nose* struggling with big knitting needles and fat yarn -- his left hand can't grip, and the stitches keep slipping away.

A good chunk of "being a writer" is the ability to catch the little snapshots of stories that are blizzarding around us all the time, every day, and build them into something unique and fascinating. Don't get me wrong: they're tough to catch. It's tough to catch the right one, the interesting one, and ask yourself the right questions.

A prisoner in ICU. A punk-ified child. An old man asking for his knitting. How? Why? What are the consequences of failure? What is failure, in this situation?

Another thing that got my brain burbling was watching the nurses go about their business. How would this be done in another place or time? Such as prepping a wheeled recliner chair for my dad to sit in, and the entire process of sitting him up, getting him on his feet and shuffled around to sit down. How would the process be different in a fantasy world? A science fiction one? During World War II?

So, that's why I didn't post last week: I was called away by a family emergency. Fortunately, my dad has a guardian angel, or a lot of good karma stored up (he doesn't knit for himself, only for others), or whatever form of good fortune you espouse. He was driving behind an ambulance when the stroke happened, and the EMTs had him in the ER lickety-split. The car sat on a side street, unlocked and full of stuff, undisturbed for the two days it took us to find it.

And that's my dose of talking about personal details for the year. :) Be well, everybody...

*Yes, my dad's nose has turned into a strawberry. It's been a strange transformation to watch. I fear for my own.

Tiny Plug: the Blogger Book Fair is going on over at Disciple of the Fount. So is a raffle of Disciple, Part I and Part II! Ends July 26th.

3 comments:

Bluestocking said...

I'm so glad he's okay. That's the best kind of family emergency.

Alicia Willette-Cook said...

I'm glad your dad's doing better. Knitting! New form of pt! :) He might be on to something...

This is why I people watch...

Not in a creepy way...

really...

Liz said...

Sorry about your father. I've heard that getting treatment right away is the best thing for a full recovery. And he's a knitter. Cool.

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