Monday, November 10, 2008

Falling for You

Let me set the scene for you. Wednesday evening, seven o'clock. My husband is out of town. My daughter had returned to classes for the first time since giving birth, leaving Grandma (me) in charge of Baby Kai for three hours. It's just me and baby. Ah, bless.

After a bit of playtime, Kai fell asleep in his little "papasan" seat, so I seized the opportunity to scrub some spots off the carpet on the stairs. (Those spots had been driving me batty every time I traveled up or down between the first and second floors.) Once the task was done, I stood to survey my work at the landing where the stairs make a 90-degree turn.

Somehow, I missed a step. And went flying.

Those testimonies of time going in slow motion during a crisis situation are true. As I flailed toward the brick fireplace, I prayed over and over that I wouldn't hit my head and black out and leave the baby without any supervision. I careened into the fireplace tools and the poker gouged through my new suit pants and sliced a nasty hole in my thigh. I landed on a glass canister filled with scented pine cones and sent broken glass flying everywhere. By the time I came to a complete stop, I'd left a pile of rubble in my wake.

Kai merely squeaked a time or two then went right back to sleep, leaving me to assess my personal injuries. The toes on my right foot had evidently done the splits on the corner of the brick hearth and my foot was already starting to swell. I'd caught myself on the heel of my right hand and it was puffing up pretty good too. But considering how bad the accident could have been, I was praising the Lord for His protection. My head remained intact and unharmed. And Kai stayed asleep until his mommy returned from class, so I didn't need pick him up or walk the floor with him. A trip to the doctor early on Thursday morning confirmed that a couple of broken toes and torn ligament or tendon in my foot encompassed the worst of my injuries.

Are you old enough to remember the old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? At the end of an action scene, the reader got to choose where to go next. As a writer, YOU are the one who gets to determine the outcome of a scene based on what you want the character to take away from the experience. If I had been writing this scene in a work-in-progress, I would need to evaluate where it fell in the story and determine what I hoped to accomplish before I could decide on a conclusion. For example, if the scene fell somewhere in Act One of my story, the stair-falling accident wouldn't likely end in cataclysmic disaster but would be just bad enough to introduce a need for change within the character. Perhaps Speedy Susan is always scurrying from one project to the next without ever really slowing down long enough to enjoy the here-and-now of life. A couple of broken toes just might be impetus enough to make her re-evaluate her priorities and implement change.

If I were writing Act Two of my story, I might need to up the stakes a bit more. Maybe Speedy Susan's freefall down the staircase leaves her immobilized with a crying baby. She will be forced to count the cost of action and, by exteme effort and determination, win this mini-victory by overcoming her personal pain to care for the child. Perhaps she didn't realize until this moment that her own needs now truly take second place behind the needs of her grandchild.

Had the tumbling act occurred in Act Three of my story, this scene has several possibilities for being a Black Moment. The very idea of a few of these horrific prospects makes me shudder. I'll let you fill in the blanks with the worst-of-the-worst scenarios. And yet, since it is fiction, even the bleakest result would be used to teach our character a valuable life lesson and give the reader a Happily-ever-after conclusion.

Susan Warren and Rachel Hauck posted a simple chart on their blog, My Book Therapy ( week, which breaks down the goals of each act in your story. Check out this link if you'd like to know more.

I'll leave you with the latest Kai pic, taken after an exhausting morning of fussing. Oh, but their sweet when they're asleep!


Rachel Hauck said...

Oh Susan! I'm so sorry for your fall but so glad you're okay!!! Friend, I'm thinking of you.

Kai is too, too cute!


CHickey said...

Funny story, but sad you hurt yourself. Me, the head is the hardest part. Probably would've been ok! LOL!

Pam Meyers said...

Oh my, Susan, I sat here with my mouth hanging open reading about your fall. Praise God you are okay and were protected, especially since you were taking care of the baby.

Susan Downs said...

Thanks for all the sympathy, friends! I'm on the mend. I traverse the stairs with much more caution these days, though. :-) SKD

CatMom said...

Susan, I was so sorry to read about your fall, and am thankful you're not hurt any worse than you are. Thanks for the "step by step" account of what happened (ooh, bad pun....please forgive me!). Baby Kai is so adorable!!
Blessings, Patti Jo

Anita Mae said...

Lifting you up, Susan.

I don't know exactly how you felt, but I can guess. A couple of times, I've tripped backwards and seemed to hover in that dimension where everything flashed before me while time slowed. I knew I was falling but could do nothing to stop it yet my brain played images of what I could have tripped on. The jarring impact was never as bad to my psyche as the 'freefall'.

Praise God for His hand upon both you and Kai.

Debby Mayne said...

Ouch! That sounds extremely painful, Susan, but I'm glad the injuries weren't more serious. Take care and be careful!

Margie Vawter said...

Yikes, Susan! So glad your fall wasn't worse. Take care of yourself. Prayers for a quick recovery.

Cathy Shouse said...


You are truly amazing to make a writing lesson out of a serious mishap. So helpful!

Thanks and I hope you mend quickly.


Erica Vetsch said...

What a scary event. I'm glad the fall wasn't any more severe, but it sounds horrific enough. I hope you're able to recline on the sofa with a laptop or ms and allow others to tend to you for awhile.

Hopping on over to MyBookTherapy to see how to apply your hardwon knowledge to my WIP. :)

Feel better soon!

Lynette Sowell said...

OWWW!! for you. and CUTE!! for Kai. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Susan! You poor baby. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

and you KNOW if this was fiction the hero would have snagged you in mid-air and saved you from harm.

Reality is a drag.

God bless you and your toes.

Mary Connealy said...

although reality in the form of baby Kai is pretty precious.

Vickie McDonough said...

So sorry to hear about your fall, Susan. I did that once on some slippery steps and went bouncing down each one on my bum. It wasn't fun but the really scary thing was that I was pregnant. Baby and me were fine though things were sore for a while.

You did a great job relating your fall to a story. I hope you heal quickly.

Blissful said...

Hope your feeling better. Ice, ice, ice on anything that hurts!

Janice Thompson said...

Susan! I can't believe I'm JUST NOW reading this. I had NO idea. I'm so sorry. Hope you're okay. That picture of the baby is priceless. He's GORGEOUS! I'm so thrilled for you.