Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Going from Bad to Worse

Gloom, despair, and agony on me! Yesterday morning, when my alarm sounded its usual five a.m. wake-up call, I struggled to drag myself out of bed. My head didn't lift more than a few inches off the pillow, though, before a wave of vertigo forced me back down. I knew right away this was more than a case of Monday-Morningitis. My temples pounded like orchestral tympani. I eased back into a prone position and resigned myself to a day of rest, despite the stacks of work waiting on my office desk.

My misery had company, though. My 21-year-old daughter had scheduled to have all of her wisdom teeth extracted, and by noon, she was back home--chipmunked cheeks and sans four teeth. She and I moaned and groaned in stereo all afternoon.

Thank goodness, I'm feeling much better today--back at work and plugging away--and Courtney is fortified with a gallon of homemade ice cream and a stack of favorite DVDs to get her through her recovery. I was beginning to think our distress was contagious. . .that we'd contracted it from a stricken acquaintance and stood in jeopardy of passing it on to another unsuspecting party. You see, this week is our church's annual district camp meeting, and since my husband is in charge of the event, you can imagine the panic he faced when he received word Saturday evening that Sunday's special speaker had his flight from Oklahoma cancelled due to mechanical failure. David breathed a little easier when he learned the minister had rebooked his flight--this time going through Chicago and arriving in Cleveland around supper time.

The people who were providing transportation made a hasty departure for the new arrival destination, only to discover the speaker didn't make his connecting flight in Chicago. The poor waylaid traveler finally made it to his host's home at midnight Saturday. Unfortunately, his luggage didn't accompany him. The distinquished, elderly churchman would have to preach in his traveling clothes. To add injury to insult, as he was walking downstairs to the basement guestroom to retire for what was left of the night, he fell head-long down the steps, bloodying his nose (and only set of clothes) and suffering numerous bruises and scrapes. Despite the warm welcome we East Ohioans extended to this denominational leader, I doubt he left our fair state with many fond memories, for I learned that, as he finished his final address last night and walked toward the parking lot, he did another spread-eagle sprawl in the parking lot.

As much as we hate to see our friends and loved ones suffer, we must never give in to the temptation to make life easy for our fictional characters. I think romance writers, particularly, want to pamper their characters and shelter them from life's hard knocks. Avoid such lures at all costs. For without conflict, you have no story. Make 'em suffer. Headaches, dizzy spells, tooth extractions, missed flights, lost luggage, tumbles and falls. And just when things start looking up, hit 'em with the mother of all catastrophes.

Oh, boy. Now that I'm feeling good again, I am afraid to think of what double-whammy awaits me on the other side of my office door!


Jess said...

That poor, poor man! He'll think twice about visiting your area again, won't he? LOL

Conflict used to be more difficult for me. Now that I've learned how to kick 'em when they're down, I need to go to the next step and learn word painting. Without concentrated effort, I have a very hard time with description so all tips and suggestions are welcome. :)

Kristy Dykes said...

Great post, Susan. As usual, you take an incident in your life and relate it to fiction. Bravo! A great reminder.

Poor man. I hope he's feeling better. He probably doesn't blame his woes on Ohioans, though. He probably travels a lot and has seen other disasters.

We had a pulpit guest and put him in the Hyatt on the St. Johns River. He arrived at the hotel on Sat. evening, found fire trucks outside, discovered one of the elevators had fallen, and they took him up in the service elevator. At one a.m., the hotel's fire alarm went off, and he climbed down 15 flights and then back up again--false alarm but he said he takes all hotel fire alarms seriously. At 3 a.m., his alarm clock went off, set by the previous occupant. At 5 a.m., the airlines called saying they'd finally gotten his flight arrangements straightened out. He sweated all night due to no air conditioning only to find a small sign by the giant windows saying if one was even slightly open, the AC wouldn't work.

He laughed about all of it, though, and preached a good message on Sun. morning. But he looked kinda' tired. :)

Lynette Sowell said...

I learned this lesson when watching Mel Gibson's Apocalypto (not recommended for the weak-stomached or if you don't like seeing backsides like in National Geographic). This poor Mayan guy. What he went through. From bad to worse to dismal to I-don't-see-how-he's-getting-out-of-this-one. His story was truly a hero's journey and one he didn't plan to make. He returns triumphant in many ways.

Sometimes we're too nice to our characters. I like to be nice to people. :) That doesn't translate well in writing though. :)

Mary Connealy said...

This has been a good pep talk. Inspired by all of you, I'm going to go torture my heroine a bit more. I've been giving my hero a pretty tough time, but I can see I've let my heroine off the hook a bit too much. :)
Strange profession, huh?