Suffering for one’s art

I’m writing a story at the moment which opens with a character catching a cold. It is vital to the story that this character has a cold, but it only lasts for the first chapter, then the character gets better. But we need to open in all his snot-filled glory.

I have been lucky enough to not have had a cold for nearly two years, but thought I had good enough recall to write the cold scenes realistically. I was wrong.

How do I know this? Out of the blue last weekend I got a terrible leave you in bed with pounding sinuses wondering if you will ever breathe again cold. Of course the first thing I did (after feeling sufficiently sorry for myself) was examine exactly how my body felt. The throbbing of my glands in my throat, well I missed that in the story. The way the sinus pain reaches down to the roots of your teeth, missed that too. The complete inability to get any kind of restful sleep, yep, overlooked that as well.

The truly weird thing… I was better by Monday morning. I skipped off to work with lizard scales around my nose and a frog in my throat, but for all intents and purposes I was well again.

It really makes me wonder; did I just get sick to enable me improve the verisimilitude of my story?

So now, along with taking my algae, oil and vitamins to ward off the various ills of winter, maybe I should also read the descriptions I wrote of last time I was ill to save me having to learn this lesson again?

I think maybe my next story should be about a character with boundless energy who jumps out of bed each morning with a spring in their step and a song in their heart. And I think I’ll set it in summer as well, I would like to remember what it feels like to be warm 😉

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