When I was five years old, a bump formed under one of my eyes. It itched and itched despite my mother slathering on Camphophenique oil. In her wisdom, she declared that it was a mosquito bite and that if I left it alone, it would quit itching.
Two days later, the bump still itching, she sent me off to a birthday party where I sat in a fog on the floor and refused to eat cake before I went outside and threw up. When my parents arrived, a fever of 104 raged through my body and by the next morning I was covered in itchy red bumps all over my body.
I had chickenpox.
No, having them didn’t inspire me to become a writer or anything. I’m quite certain that goal is a genetic abnormality. But having them has, all these years later, created something else. A horrible thing called Shingles.
Apparently, the virus that causes chickpox lies dormant in the body for years and years waiting for just the perfect moment of stress in a person’s life to spring back into action. I can bear witness to the fact that it is extremely painful. Debilitating in some ways. Stabbing throbbing pain through one side of the body is kind of nuts to live with.
But really, no one has developed a “cure”.
So I haven’t done much the last couple of weeks other than the things I had to do. Taking care of goats and garden and new baby chickens, moving my son home from college, carting my daughter off to a conference, …
Last night I got a break. I went to dinner and a Broadway show with my parents and sister. I don’t know how many years it’s been since just the four of us have done anything together. We always have children or spouses tagging along. We spent two hours eating dinner, drinking x-rated margaritas, and watching the Monaco Grand Prix before seeing “Sister Act” where we laughed so hard we cried.
It was all a glorious time.
The drive down and back home again was spent, as I always spend driving time, writing stuff in my head. If I had a voice recording device in my car’s audio system, I’d be set.
And last night, I worked out a solution to a rewrite issue I’ve been struggling with for seven years.
Yes. I said seven years.
That’s when I completed the writing on my third book in my trilogy. At the time, I loved it. I love it still. I love the story. I love the characters. I love the setting. But something always nagged at me that it wasn’t … perfect.
I’ve moved on since that story to write several other novels, always knowing that I could finish them because I had finished that first one all those years ago. But I’ve never forgotten it and I’ve always planned on revisiting it and revising it and pushing it for publication.
Last night, like those latent chickenpox springing forth in my body to create shingles, a discussion of my latest novel with my son triggered exactly what I’ve been missing from that trilogy. Unexpected, unknown, un-pursued. The solution appeared before me, reflecting in the darkness of the interstate on my car window, under the glow of the alien head from my dash.
At least it didn’t wait forty-plus years … or cause a rash.