Yes, this exactly.

Dare To Be Great?


I found that picture on stumbleupon, and looked up the quote, apparently it’s from Pushing Daisies, a TV show I’ve never seen.  It does however, explain my great love of books and reading.  I’ve been reading since before I started school, first all the kid books, of course, “Go Dog Go” was my favorite, then moving onward.  My dad had a great collection of 80’s fantasy novels, which I stole, and devoured.  They were so much more interesting than my mom’s mystery novels (plus, serial killers are scary to read about when you’re 12, fiction or not), and have been firmly cemented as my favorite genre for over a decade.  I used to read ALL THE TIME, class breaks, recess, at home, on weekends, in the car, staying up late with a flashlight so my mom didn’t yell at me, on the beach, whenever, wherever.  I did a lot of…

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It’s just oozing a little.

So the day before yesterday I was playing in the backyard with my spawn and stepped on a sharp piece of wood (one she always carefully walks around and now I know why). I opened up a nice little gash in my heel. The oozy, bleeding kind. Now, because I was outside with my small child I could not collapse shrieking and cursing because that would have scared her. The husband was sleeping in, having been up late. So I did what I am assured most mothers do, whimpered very quietly,  continued to play with my daughter as if nothing was wrong so she wouldn’t freak out, and waited for the bleeding to stop. It did, I hobbled inside and cleaned it off later, all good.

Which made me think about stoicism as portrayed in fiction. Because I was being stoic. And didn’t faint or get all woozy at the sight of my own blood which I have been known to do. Other people’s is fine with me but I do not care to see my own.

I have noticed that the intensity of a given character’s stoicism is often inversely proportional to the author’s experience of serious injury/danger. If you’ve never had a broken arm, it’s easy to assume that your character can keep fighting while it flops around at his side, because apparently you have no idea how much it hurts. I don’t, either, but I’ve had a partially dislocated collarbone and an exciting assortment of sprains and let me tell you, that hurt enough. I nearly threw up the first time I seriously sprained my ankle. Likewise with testicular injuries. I’m not personally equipped with the things, but my husband assures me that it’s ridiculous how many fictional people can shake off a blow to the harbls. I have seen him reduced to sobbing and vomiting after a single (but mighty) blow from a toddler armed with a wooden train, so I’m willing to take his word for it. Pain is really, really hard to tune out, especially if you have to keep moving around.

 

And blood-loss! Seriously, the amount of blood in the human body is very limited. It bugs me to read about ‘lakes’ and ‘pools’ of blood coming out of someone who’s going to be up and fighting again in ten pages. Or even someone who’s going to survive, because humans can’t spare a lake’s worth, as a rule.  Septicemia, too – infection is far too often ignored, especially in fantasy. If you go swimming in a medieval harbour – or the Brisbane River today – with an open wound, then you’re probably going to die within a few days. Seriously. I once got an infected ear-piercing that was so bad my earlobe tripled in size and I was running a fever. A real fever, from an ear piercing, one of the smallest holes possible in one of the very least crucial parts of your body. If your character is stabbed or gouged or something and just pours some water over it and slaps on a bit of grimy linen, they need to be running a fever within the next couple of days even under the very best circumstances and – back to the subject of stoicism – they’re not going to be going anywhere. A severe infection hurts like hell, you get a fever, and it can kill you extremely dead if you’re not lucky and/or careful.

On the other hand, I personally know someone who has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever and shrugged off being stabbed in the ass with an actual sword as ‘no big deal’ up until the point where the wound went septic. There are people that insanely stoic, but they’re rare and their friends worry about them a lot because they do things like wanting to compete in live-weapon fencing tournaments because ‘most people don’t die, but you have to bring your own medic just in case’. And people do routinely perform incredible feats when injured – parents protecting children is the classic example, but humans can do astonishing things for complete strangers, too. But these tend to be very short-term acts, limited to the life-span of the immediate danger and the adrenaline surge. The hero with the broken arm might fling his fallen friend over his shoulder and carry him to safety, but this isn’t going to take place over several days. Several minutes, sure. Up to an hour, maybe. But even my friend with the butt-wound couldn’t keep it up forever, tough as he is.

I know this post is kind of rambly, it was just something that was on my mind. Realistic portrayal of injuries is hard, when you’ve never had any, I get that, and working from action movies will take you in totally the wrong direction, but try anyway. And remember that any male whose harbles are impacted hard enough is going to be vomiting uncontrollably, no matter how tough he is.

I did it.

Well, kind of. It took me half an hour to get from the bed to the computer after my alarm went off, because I woke up five times during a six hour sleep period and there was toddler-crying and hallucinatory Harry Potter dreams and so on, but I didn’t go back to sleep and I’m here at the computer and typing even though I’m having trouble focusing my eyes and I can’t concen ooooh kitty.

No, really, there was a kitty. She wants breakfast. I should get up and do that and also get coffee because maybe that will help my eyes focus. (Also, I wish to note that they were not Harry Potter dreams that were hallucinatory in nature, I actually dreamed I was Harry Potter. Hallucinating. Only then it turned out to be not so much hallucinating himself as time-travel meaning he was there twice so it kind of works either way now that I think about it.)

I now have coffee and the cat has been fed. It occurs to me that I am effectively liveblogging the waking-up process, so reading this later is probably going to be interesting. I haven’t tried any creative writing yet, because the eyes aren’t focusing yet and I haven’t drunk the coffee yet, but what the heck, I’m upright and that’s a start.

So far this morning I have played some Candy Crush on my phone in an attempt to wake up, staggered to the bathroom and then to the computer, stared blankly a lot, made coffee, fed cat, got a drink of water for hydrating… I’m actually not doing too badly, despite the blurry vision. I also keep wandering over to Tumblr, which is less good. Okay. Time to open up a document and write words in it.

Deciding what to write is hard. I’ve been dithering on what new project to start out of all the ideas bobbing around in my brain. I probably should have decided that *before* deciding to start at 6 am.

What’s a very butch, alpha-male type fantasy name? The romance e-publishers all want the alpha males these days. I miss the nice guys.

If you type in ‘manly fant’ on google, ‘manly fantasy names is the first suggestion. I am amused. Not much help, though.

Writing is occurring. No idea if it’s any good, but only two hours after getting up, I am alert enough to create. That’s not bad for four hours of sleep, one cup of coffee, and a first attempt.

A few hundred words written, and the toddler is awake and ready to start the day. I am calling this first attempt a qualified success.

 

 

A Partial Cure For PMS

Ingredients:

1 large steak

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 half lime

1 baby spinach salad mix

1 small microwaveable pouch of gravy

1 large block of good quality chocolate

Preparation:

Put steak in frying pan. Douse on both sides with soy sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Cook to taste.

Put on plate with giant pile of spinach salad, also sprinkled with lime juice. Add gravy if desired. Devour.

Eat chocolate in front of movie – either violent or sad works best.

Feel moderately better about fellow humans and graciously allow them to live.

Well, maybe that’s just me – but a big, delicious plateful of iron really does help.