"Where you come from is gone." - Hazel Motes in WISE BLOOD
WISE BLOOD, Flannery O'Connor's first novel, was published in 1952, the same year she was diagnosed with Lupus, a debilitating, death-bringing illness. Returning to her mother's Georgia home, Flannery set aside two hours every day to write no matter what. I borrowed her discipline after a tiny mosquito bit me in 2015, leaving me unable to walk without Miss Scarlett, my bright red walker.
West Nile attacked my spine and my brain. Speech, physical, and occupational therapists brought back most of my body. (My PT and I continue to work on my left leg, a stubborn mule of a limb.) While my body improved, my mind remained cloudy. I struggled to read and write.
One day, out of 150 days in hospitals and a nursing home, a caretaker, Brian, brought me a book. He challenged me to read it because he'd heard my worry that I would never write again. I read it in a day. I dove into other books, and then I came home. Papers, books, sketches of my characters, timelines, a coffee cup cluttered my writing room, a space caught in a time warp of who I was five months earlier when I got bit. I couldn't write. I couldn't sit at that desk.
Who I had been as a writer was gone. I had to find a new way to work. I had to learn to write again. I decided to edit the novel I had completed before the bite. My goal: cut 10,000 words. I deleted 21,568 words and the novel, WILLIAM AND ROSE, sang.
Now my writing room holds only what's necessary to my work. I sit at a new smaller desk. I copy Flannery's discipline and write two hours (usually more) most days. I have finished a collection of 12 stories, AUDITIONS OF HOPE, and am hard at work on a new novel, BEYOND THE BONEYARD.
Miss Scarlett and I are not the stay-at-home types. We travel by car, boat, and airplane. She helps me get wherever I want to go. I sit with her to eat, cook, and play. I'm no longer quick or graceful. That part of me is gone. Writing powers where I am going -- forward! Make writing your power source: It works!