Spotlight on Writing

This week, on our upcoming podcast we talk about beginnings, which seems appropriate as I attempt to forge ahead with a new chapter. Sometimes, it can take several tries before getting the right tone, and for this chapter, I’ve had several tries already.

I often find imagining that first scene of a chapter quite tricky. Where are they? Is it better to start here, or there? What is the most interesting point to begin this scene? How do I move from the opening to the first plot point in the chapter plan? These are only some of the questions that fill my mind when I’m writing the opening lines of a chapter. Sometimes, the decision is clear—the last chapter may have ended on a cliffhanger, which often necessitates following on from a specific plot point. But especially with this Ancient Greece book, because we go back and forth between the past and the present, I need to reorientate myself with the character and several days may have passed between the last encounter with the character. There is also a lot of physical traveling in this story. This means crafting new (and often unfamiliar) scenes that reflect the character’s current situation.

I’m not going to lie, this book has been the most challenging we’ve attempted so far. Sometimes you’ve got to cut yourself some slack. Sure, I’ve been going pretty darn slowly. But I am learning through this book—learning new techniques and pushing myself to explore outside the boundary of what is comfortable to me. It’s been a frustrating journey, but I hope in the end, it will also ultimately be a rewarding one.

Personal Update
New beginnings

Life goes on in this fourth wave of covid. Hopefully soon, we will see the numbers begin to fall again. Though, so far, there has been no sign of that. The intensivists in our health system have been briefed on Critical Care Triaging. They haven’t had to implement it yet (and we hope it never will be), but even the idea of it sounds horrible. A system to decide who gets ICU care, and who doesn’t. Who gets a ventilator, and who misses out. It sounds like a horror story, a lottery where the lucky survive and others are left to die.

When I check patients in for surgery, I have to ask them whether they have received their covid vaccine. The ones who haven’t get this guilty look on their face and say, “no, but I’m getting it soon, I promise.” And I feel a strange mix of things looking at these patients. I feel sorry for them, because it’s clear they think I’ll care for them differently or preach to them the importance of getting the vaccine, even though it’s fully their choice and they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for exercising their right to refuse medication.

But equally, I wish they had their vaccine. I wish they hadn’t left it so late. I do want to scream from the rooftops just how crucial these vaccines are, not just for them but for everyone they know and love. Because, ultimately, I don’t want them or their loved ones to be the last straw, that final patient that ends up in ICU and sends us down the terrifying route of activating the Critical Care Triage Protocol.