Hell is being sick … and not being able to read!

By a strange coincidence, a virus felled me the day after I saw the movie Contagion. That was bad enough, but the topper was that for a couple days, I was too sick to even read. You can only sleep so much, and with my need for glasses, it’s not easy watching television lying down. And writing—even to just think the words—fuhgeddaboutit!

So, as much as I hate the word bored, I have to say I was. I kept thinking about that Twilight Zone episode where the man who wants only to be left alone with his books, gets his wish, but then isn’t able to read because he breaks his glasses. Hell, indeed. Today, I’m about 90% back to normal.

When I could read again, I finished The Help, which I’d started before I got sick, and read a little more of another one, Joy for Beginners, which I’d started over a month ago, but set aside.

For the record, I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I mentioned in a previous post. I was astounded to learn the degree to which one woman’s cells have been instrumental in worldwide medical and biological research for over fifty years. My only reserve is discomfort over the way the author chose to portray Henrietta’s family.

I also loved The Help. It’s been a long time since I read a book of that length so quickly. I hope to see the movie soon, though I’ve heard it’s not as good as the book. Typical. I try not to read reviews before I read a book, so afterward I was surprised to read negative remarks written as though the reader expected The Help to be more history than fiction.

Despite what the cover says, Joy for Beginners is not constructed as a traditional novel, and eventually I found it less frustrating to read it as a collection of connected short stories. The writing is pretty. The reason I’m taking so long to finish the book is that I don’t care enough about the characters.

As for Contagion, it was a disappointment. The acting was good, the story premise good, the execution of that premise, not good. It started out well, developed a bit, but then waned, and finally, fizzled out. Gee. I seem to be doing nothing but blogging reviews lately, or rather opinions—which is exactly how you should view them.

I don’t really have much to say about writing because I’m sort of stumbling around again. This is a list of the writing problems I encountered this month:

  1. I kept changing my mind on which book to work on first. (Solved … I think.)
  2. I lost sight of writing for myself and started wondering what readers would think.
  3. I started worrying about who I’ll get to beta read and how I can pay an editor.

In short, I’ve been fussing and fighting with writing, but not doing much of it. I have one more novel to read, and then I’m hanging up my library card for a while, so I can do what I’m supposed to do. Write. Right?

19 thoughts on “Hell is being sick … and not being able to read!

  1. I find a lot of times, when I wind up fussing a lot about my writing but not doing much actual writing, it’s because I’ve got a big smack of inspiration coming. That’s how it was this weekend. The last few days have been disastrous, but this morning, I had a huge surge of inspiration and new ideas and lots of good work.

    How disappointing that Contagion ended up lacking! It’s always sad when I see a movie that has so much potential and then it just doesn’t quite reach it, you know?

    But that’s why we have books, since those clearly have been turning out better!


    1. Glad to hear you had a burst of inspiration, L.S. 🙂 I, too, expect things are being worked out on the back burner of my brain, so I’m waiting expectantly.

      Well, judging by many critics ratings, Contagion wasn’t a disappointment for everyone. Tastes vary; that’s why I hate giving my opinion on books and movies.


  2. Sounds like you’ve been enjoying some great books! My mom raves about The Help, but I have yet to even get to YOUR book, and I want to. My life. Ugh. Hell is just not having the time (or clear enough head) to read. I finally finished my revisions on The Breakaway, though, and it’s sent off to my publisher. So…more time to write and to read, hopefully!

    I never expect movies to be as “good as the books” – only different. It’s because I finally realized that movies aren’t supposed to be just a cinematic rendition of the book. How boring. I’m married to an actor so I’ve learned how to appreciate film as its own medium where stories must be told differently than in the pages of a book. That means, of course, that those stories will always be different from a book they’re based on – and that the two shouldn’t be compared as the same thing.

    Oh, and I could never watch Contagion. I think a movie like that would give me nightmares for the rest of my life.

    Look at me ramble. 🙂

    I hope you feel better soon!


    1. I’ll selfishly say I wish you had time to read my book, Michelle, because I’m anxious to know what you think. (No pressure. 🙂 )

      Yay! I’m sure it feels great to send off your revisions. I know you’ve been working on The Breakaway for a long time.

      Good point about judging movies and books differently. They can’t be the same, of course.

      And I confess that partway through Contagion, I questioned why I had wanted to see it … and not because it wasn’t that good.


      1. Yeah – well I had a week of supporting a friend who’s husband died very suddenly. I was no 1 there for the week. After the funeral I collapsed. I think it was so emotionally draining.


    1. I think I remember that episode because I felt his pain, Karen. Probably you did too. 🙂

      Oh, I expect things will work themselves out. If I could just stop putting the cart before the horse, I think my life would run much smoother … my writing life, at least.


  3. Well, I haven’t read Henrietta Lacks, The Help, Joy for Beginners, or seen Contagion (how culturally inept am I??), but I haven’t been by for a while, so I thought I’d say “hi”. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    I’m reading The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, and liking it a lot.


  4. Last winter I got the flu and spent several days semi-hallucinating with a high fever. There were giant chickens EVERYWHERE in and around my head. Those giant chickens eventually made it into Just Desserts, so it was ultimately worthwhile to be sick! I’ll bet this worked as some kind of gestation period for you.

    I’m not on the same love train about The Help as most people – I did find it compelling but not as believable as many other people found it.

    Now I need to go look for The Leftovers.

    Glad you’re feeling better!


    1. I didn’t hallucinate anything, Natasha. 😦 At least that would have been entertaining. Gestation period? Maybe so. I hope so. I need to get to work.

      Well, naturally, not everyone loves The Help. As always, it depends on what you bring to it. I was highly entertained by the story … improbable though it might be. That did not blind me to the error of her writing that Medgar Evers was “bludgeoned”, even though in another place (or two) she said, correctly, that he was shot. (How did her editor miss that?)

      And thank you. 🙂


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