Sometimes I get inspiration for a writing blog from the universe and sometimes I go in search of a topic. I found today’s little meme when I was Googling Reality in your writing. And it’s perfect.
As a fiction writer my brain is continually turned to the “on” position as far as making stuff up goes. Fiction writer, remember? But there are times when something has either happened in my life, or I’ve seen a report on the news, or someone tells me a story and I just think “Wow. I can use that in a book.” The pitfalls of knowing a writer, being their friend or spouse, is that this may happen more times than you think.
So, here’s why today’s cartoon is so perfect for what I wanted to say. In my new book releasing on March 11 from the Wild Rose Press, THE VOICES OF ANGELS, my heroine – a writer – pens a book about the experiences people have had with what they say are Angels. Her addition to the book is the birth of her daughter. I’m including a little bit of it here so you can reference what I’m talking about: Just for a starting point, Carly is being interviewed on a morning chat show and has been telling the host ( my wonderful hero, Mike !) about a car accident she had that propelled her into labor with her daughter. The baby is in distress and Carly is given the option of two anesthesias because she needs an emergency C-section -a spinal injection where the baby will be out in 30 minutes, or general, where they can take her from her body in less than five. She bases her decision on something she hears and tells Mike about it this way:
The spinal, the doctor said, was the safer choice for the baby. I was beyond exhausted from the labor and the stress of the accident and I didn’t know which way to go. My husband left the room to speak in private with the doctor, when out of nowhere a small voice whispered in my ear to take the general. I turned my head, but I was alone. The doctor came back a second later and I told him I’d made a decision. After I woke from the surgery, he assured me I’d made the correct one.”
Mike uncrossed his legs and leaned in closer. Even though he’d read the excerpt from the book the night before in preparation for the interview, hearing her tell the story in her gentle, melodic voice had a hypnotic effect. He wanted to hear more. “What did he mean?”
Carly’s smile turned sad. “Well, my baby had been lying on her umbilical cord. The accident must have shifted her position. At birth, she had no pulse or reflexes. The doctor couldn’t get any kind of response from her. After five minutes of resuscitation efforts, though, she started to perk-up. If I’d opted for the spinal and waited for it to work, he wouldn’t have been able to save her, because too much time would have elapsed between the injection and the operation. With the general anesthesia, she was born in less than five minutes. So the little voice in my ear helped me make the right choice.”
Now, to tie this little excerpt together with today’s theme: that story is true. I know because it happened to me. I had an accident the day my daughter was born – my 120 pound dog knocked me down while I was out walking her and, because I had her leash wound around my hand, she dragged me on my belly for a good twenty feet before help arrived. My body instantly went into labor, the baby was in distress, and the choice of anesthesia was given to me. The story about the voice in my ear is true as well. I did hear someone whisper into my ear to take the general when my husband slipped into the hallway for a second – and I was left alone.
I wrote about that experience in several magazine articles for years after my daughter was born. When I wrote Carly’s biography I knew I needed an inciting event for her new book, so…
I bet you can guess today’s question without even thinking, but I’ll ask it anyway: have you ever used a real life event that happened to you, a loved one, or a that you heard on the news, etc, in one of your stories? Let’s discuss….