Crutches are Evil Things

I broke my foot last Saturday while I was in the Everglades and have been on crutches, no weight bearing, and with a boot.

I’ve been on them before, when I was in the military, and they don’t get any easier with time.  In fact, one of the things I learned with this round was that I get up and move around a lot.  I didn’t realize how much until I wasn’t able to do as much.

The first day I think I managed to spill something on the floor about three times, then fell in the middle of the night trying to get to the bathroom.  There’s a sharp turn from the bedroom door into a much narrower bathroom door.  Balance checks all over the place.  Yup, I’m pretty dangerous.


I’m keeping up on my exercise, though no lower body exercises and no lower body cardio.  I’m revisiting my Jack La Lanne videos, since he was all about doing the exercise at home.  Most of them can be done with a chair, standing, or the floor, and I can substitute something else where feet are required (i.e. running in place might become swimming).

The worst places

  1. Kitchen. Hands down, it’s a horror story.  Everything that is conveniently located normally is hard to get on crutches.
  2. Did I mention I have stairs and hills? If I go outside, it’s down a flight of stairs, down another flight of stairs, down a hill, turn the corner, and down another hill.  We have a hill of doom out front that eats buses and tractor trailers and cars when it snows.

Things I’m doing

  1. Peapod for groceries. The deliveryman came last night and brought it in and set it on the kitchen counter for me. Thank you!  I was trying to figure out how to ferry the groceries to the kitchen from the door.  I was figuring I’d move the items that required refrigeration and leave the rest where they were.
  2. Next time I order groceries, I’m going to head for precut vegetables. More expensive, but I’m not trying to juggle a knife, cutting board, and crutches.
  3. Drinking water is hard! I put a glass in the bathroom and one in the kitchen so I can easily access the water.

Breakfast is smoothies, lunch is a salad, and I’m still working out what I need to do for dinner.


That’s been a little challenging.  I’m not getting as much done—think it’s just because, until I get used to the crutches, they’re very tiring.  More important that the writing is to take care of me.


Defining Success as a Writer

I came back from the cruise and broke my right foot in Florida.  I was coming down a steep wheelchair ramp in the Everglades.  It had this small speed bump at the end.  I stepped on it, my ankle over-rotated, and I fell.  The outside of my foot slammed into the speed bump.

It’s a clean break, but I have to be careful not to tear any of the tendons or that means surgery.  So I’m on crutches, no weight-bearing … oh yeah, lots of fun /sarcasm.  So my productivity is on the slow side.  Especially since I didn’t realize how much I need to get up and move around.

Meanwhile, I ran across a writer asking how to define success.  The writer asking the question was defining it as “best seller” or “number of sales.”

I tried not to wince.  It’s a goal that we, as writers, have absolutely no control over.  We can write good books, but it’s up to the readers to buy them.  And it can be also influenced by outside events.  I still remember some writers getting suck in the Twilight Zone because their books had the misfortune of being released the week of September 11.

I think a lot of people see a best-selling book as an escape from the day job they hate … sort of like the same people who want to win the lottery.  Those are usually the ones who haven’t thought much beyond ‘quit the day job.’  Success to them is making enough money to quit the day job, not finding something they like to do.

The problem is that it takes a lot of time learning skills to be a better writer, especially getting out of the beginning stage where people start to notice what you are writing.  How many books or short stories is that?  How many years of writing?  That’s usually where people who think in terms of quitting the day job give up writing.  It’s just not we see on TV where the character writes one bad novel and it becomes a best seller and he goes to parties with hot girls.

I write because I enjoy doing it.  When I started writing, it was all about the cool adventures I could have on paper (in real life, they aren’t that cool).  I could solve a mystery like Nancy Drew or chase bad guys.  I’m writing a story set on a spaceship.  A spaceship!  How cool is that?  It’s like being on Star Trek, only better because it’s my story, my characters.

On the other side, which I’m keeping separate, I want to make enough money that I can one day, hopefully soon, write full time and do even more adventures and have more fun.  It doesn’t matter to me that this book sells a million copies or why that book isn’t selling.  It only matters that the accumulated sales of all the books is enough for me to do what I want.

How do you define success?

Sensitivity Readers: Another reason to go indie

I just got back from my cruise–a very long day yesterday flying back!  Anyway, I ran across this article this morning on “sensitivity reader” to look for offensive content and was horrified that the industry is doing this.

It’s a form of censorship, plain and simple.

It starts with the simple thing of avoiding stereotypes, which sounds reasonable.

And there is a problem with that.  Most of it, in my opinion, comes from the media.  The news tends to focus on what sells and that often crosses into stereotype territory.  Films, TV, and even commercials tend to use stereotypes as a shortcut because of time limitations.  If you were, say, a soldier in an all-male company and grew up without any sisters, you might think the images of women being helpless victims on every TV show are true.

However, let’s suppose I create a nasty individual–character’s well-drawn and the motivations for the nastiness is obvious in the context of the story.  It’s even something that’s the heart of the story.  And maybe I decide to make the character a woman.

Enter sensitivity reader, who gets offended that I made this woman such a nasty person and publisher tells me I need to change the character.  Yet, if I’d done the character as a male, no one would had noticed any problems.  That’s just plain wrong.

People can be offended at pretty much anything.  Maybe I get offended because someone mentions rabbits.  Does that mean writers should jump and change their rabbits to cats because one person is offended at rabbits?

I grew up watching Star Trek, the original one, when it went into syndication.  There was something magical about it, seeing a woman on the bridge in an important position. As good science fiction does, it slipped in issues that could be brought up in the context of a fictional futuristic story.  And it pushed a lot of boundaries that made people uncomfortable (especially judging from Gene Roddenberry’s battles with the network).  But suppose a sensitivity viewer said that Uhura’s mini-skirt was offensive and GR’s response was to change the character to male?


I know the sensitivity reader idea has good intentions, but it takes control of the story away from the writer.  It takes away our ability to push boundaries that need to be pushed.

Time Markers in Stories

Time in stories was the subject of an Odyssey online conference.  I hadn’t really thought of time before, at least not until I started putting light into every scene.

When I was in Desert Storm, time was strange.  We didn’t have weekends off, so it was get up each morning, have formation, go to work.  It was hard to keep track of what day it was because the war interrupted the natural pacing of a normal week. It also had the effect of making time seem like it was really long even though it was only five months.

From the writing side, time starts out as a function of setting and setting is interpreted by characters, so that’s also characterization.  Even my real life Desert Storm time was a function of where I was (a war) and how I was interpreting everything around me.

When I added light to the story in some way, it immediately anchored a specific time.  A character is turning in for the night, or starts out on a mission as the sun rises.

But then there’s also the feel of the setting, like if you’re outside and the sun is rising, it will get hotter as the day gets later and then the character gets all sweaty.  I remember in Desert Storm, during the hottest part of the day, we would all retreat to the tents and try not to move too much.

Or walking on the beach during summer and seeing the sharply cut shadows of myself sprawl across the beach.  Of course, that’s also seasonal time, since shadows don’t act the same in winter.

Then there’s food.  Meals are a great way to show time.  Breakfast makes it obvious it’s morning.  I’ve seen some books where a character is a prisoner and they have no sense of time because the meals are served irregularly.  Or they identify it as a frame of reference for time.

How about the type of meal?  Turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie sets its own time of the year.

The Editor’s Blog had this interesting bit about how aware we are of time:

People are almost always aware of time in their daily lives—time of day or month or year; time in relation to a job or task that needs to be completed; time in terms of religious holidays or seasons; stages of life such as infancy or teenage years, school years, years of fertility, and old age; era, such as the Roaring Twenties or Regency England or the frontier years on Mordant Five; or time as it relates to anticipation of either a dreaded or an eagerly anticipated event.

It’s both a simple and a complex topic, depending on how it’s used.