November 2, 2010

It started with a fever

A couple of years ago I got the flu and had a high fever.  In the midst of delirium an idea came to me.  It seemed a most wonderful idea, in fact, the best idea ever.  I jotted it down.

The next day when I woke up, I looked at the note.  I expected it to be nonsense but even in the light of day and without a fever, it seemed like a very, very good idea.  But what could I do with it?  I'd never tried to write a book before.  Mind you, I'm a writer and I've always earned my pay by putting words on paper.  I was in human rights work for decades and wrote speeches, letters, articles, reports, etc.  But I had never tried to write fiction.

Oh, it had occurred to me now and then.  But I thought I was too far removed from the lives that "normal" people lived.  I didn't think I could write something that others could relate to.  What can I say?  This is what I thought, and because of it I never tried to write anything but non-fiction.

At that time (when I was thinking about the possibility of writing a book), I was corresponding daily with the blogger who runs the site.  She too was noodling with the idea of writing fiction and she encouraged me mightily, for which I'll always be thankful.

The day finally came when I couldn't put it off any longer.  I knew what I wanted to write, and all I had to do was walk over to the computer, sit down and begin telling the tale.  I remember thinking,  "What the hell, I'm going to give it a shot."  And boy, did I have a surprise in store.

The story rushed out of me, filling page after page.  I was shocked whenever I realized that I was actually writing a novel.  But the shock didn't slow me down.  I never flagged, never got to a point where I didn't know what to say.  It just came out.

And then one day I was done and I could actually say, "I've written a novel."  How weird!  I did it.  And it all started with a fever.

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