A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a head injury. Several of you wanted to know the story behind that. Since I'd like to keep my arms and legs, gather round and listen to a tale of a fateful trip ... that didn't start aboard a tiny ship (we still miss you, Bob Denver).
A few years ago, my wife's family invited us to spend a week in the Four Corners area (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona).
A nice way to kick off the summer, right? Or so we thought. Sure, our cameras snapped lots of great memories from the cliff dwellings and the petrified forest, among other national park awesomeness. At this time, I was nine chapters into the first draft of this book I keep telling you about. Then we stayed at a campground in the Navajo Nation with plans to tour a canyon in the morning - on horseback.
Me. A city boy. On a horse (you see where this is going, right?).
Moments before the incident ...
Truth be told, I was bucked off a horse when I was six - landed on my butt without a scratch. This time around, I was given a tame horse. We bonded quick, but when I hoisted myself onto the saddle, I accidentally sat on my hand, twisting my wrist. It hurt. A lot. Our Native American guide, Gabriel, asked if I was okay. I said "yeah, but I'm ... dizzy," and the next thing I knew, I was on my back, our guide tapping my face with his saliva on his hands (until someone gave him some water - then I got drenched). I passed out, fell off the horse, and landed head-first on the ground (it hurts to think about it).
There's penguins on my pillows, bro!
Someone didn't get to go on that canyon tour. I stayed with the camper, my wife making sure I didn't fall asleep in case this was a concussion. Luckily, I landed on the side of my head. My shoulder took some of the blow. Unluckily, it was the right side of my head. You know, that creative side of the brain that allows for imaginative thoughts and art. Yeah. I figured I might as well try to write.
When I got back, my head and neck was out of whack, requiring the start of several chiropractic visits. And when I handed the latest chapters to my coauthor, something wasn't right. "This reads like a cartoon," he said, as if I had watched hours of Anime before writing them (so what if I did?). He was totally right. The narrative and the dialogue, the characters ... nothing like our other chapters, in a bad way - but I honestly couldn't see it. It was like writing my first novel all over again, loaded sentences that made no sense. Needless to say, it made me depressed. I had to stop writing. A part of me died then.
This is why I was absent from conventions in 2010. My logistical left brain was fine, so thankfully my job wasn't compromised.
As far as writing went, I could have quit then. Who would think less of me if I did? I would. Yep. I couldn't let this take over my dream to be a full-time writer, but how would I recover, not knowing if I would ever get back to the way I was, let alone better? Sometimes the best way to overcome adversity is to start with nothing. I took up a pencil and a writing pad and wrote. Just wrote. It didn't matter what. There was no plan to make my word salad into a novel. I wrote on, literally reteaching myself how to write a proper sentence again, to write dialogue that didn't sound like the voice-overs on Kid History.
The most difficult part was visualizing the setting and details in my head like I used to (and to this day, it's still a struggle), but given time and healing, I rose out of this slump. I looked at my lacking blog and turned things around. Finally, a year ago today, I fell back into my groove - albeit different than I expected (if you're reading this and have no problem following along, I think that's a good sign).
This is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter. Even though my writing took a back seat for a year, I consider myself lucky. Adversity takes on many forms and may come at us at any given time. What's the trick to overcoming adversity? Simply put - mind over matter.
What matters is that we never stop dreaming. We never stop trying. We never give up. For all I know, this may have turned out for the best. So the next time you see me, and I come across as some kind of Smallville-stying, cruller-obsessed weirdy, now you know why.
And they lived to see another sunset ...
What adversities have gotten in the way of your writing? What did you learn from it? Should I go out for liposuction?
I'm David, and this post by Nathan Bransford is hilarious!