I recently got a review that mentioned how Fall Into You’s blurb didn’t say anything about there being medical problems that the characters encountered and that if it had, the reader would’ve picked the book up sooner because she really likes to read about those themes. I didn’t mention the medical issues in the blurb because I didn’t want to ruin that bit in the story. In fact, there were many things I left out of the blurb that maybe should’ve been put in. Oh well. It was my first book and I learned how to write a blurb by doing so. Next time, I don’t think I’ll be as secretive about things.
Another reason I didn’t put any of the medical stuff in the blurb is because dealing with medical issues is a just an everyday thing for me. I have several chronic conditions that I manage, often without even realizing I’m managing them until something goes wrong. For example, I had a seizure while teaching a class about a month ago. I’m epileptic and have had seizures since I was a preschooler. They’ve been mostly controlled by meds since I was finally diagnosed at age 11, but when I suffer with insomnia (which I had been), my seizure threshold tends to be much lower. That’s when I rely on my husband to help me out. This week, I’m dealing with my chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia on top of the injuries I have in my shoulder and foot, exacerbated by all the damn shoveling I’ve had to do up here in the tundra of Minnesota. Pain and “conditions” are just a part of my life.
But the review caused me to really stop and think last night after I read it. I know many writers bring things from their personal experience into their writing whether consciously or unconsciously. I certainly deal a lot with fathers in my writing, partly because I lost mine before I even started school and I’ve always felt that I’d be a different person if my dad hadn’t lost his struggle with diabetes and heart disease. And dealing with my own personal medical history that is thick and not easily explained to new doctors, let alone the average person, medical stuff just naturally comes into play in my writing. It probably doesn’t hurt that I live in a medical community where I’m surrounded by medical professionals.
Fall Into You does have medical themes. If my North Star Trilogy gets picked up, the second book very much deals with medical themes. Family and nature will probably always be a theme in my writing too. Our families of origin affect so much in our lives, from the way we pronounce certain words, to how we yell at our kids, and even how we go about arguing our point with our loved ones.
I can’t separate some of that stuff from my writing, and even if that allows people to see inside of my soul, I’m okay with that. Do I feel exposed? Hell yes! I feel very exposed at times, but it’s worth it if I can maybe reach one or two other people in the world who understand what it’s like to feel those things too.
One of my very best friends in the whole world came to me because of something I’d written. I wrote about a character being attacked, lacerating his spleen where he quickly was bleeding out. His boyfriend witnessed it and was left in the ER waiting room not having a clue if his lover was going to live or die. I based much of that waiting room scene on the experience I had when my daughter was having reconstructive surgery on her airway and vocal chords. It took hours and I was terrified that my 3 month old wasn’t going to come out alive.
Writing allows me to process things like that, to work through some of those fears and emotions that wake me up at night. My friend who came to be because of the ER chapter had a very significant loss in her life and that chapter touched her enough to reach out to me to tell me about her experience. I made a great friend because of that.
So maybe I need to revise my author bio to include something about hitting on medical themes. I didn’t realize how much I did that until I read that latest review. I’m really glad that reader said something because now that I look back, I see how much I’ve brought that theme into my writing. I think it will keep happening, because very few people in the world live without some sort of suffering. It’s part of what creates a writer, if you ask me.