This last week I have the wonderful pleasure of passing not one but two kidney stones. These are the third and fourth ones I have ever passed in my life and hopefully the last. Time will tell.
So… what does this have to do with writing? Unless you are a robot most things that your characters go through originate from something of personal experience. Maybe an argument translates into a space battle or a tough day in traffic changes into navigating a political minefield but whatever it may be the inspiration comes from daily life.
What have I learned in these last excruciating days?
Pain, avoidance, and the unexpected repercussions.
I don’t know what you have heard in the past but kidney stones are very painful. In fact, women who have given birth actually say that passing a kidney stone hurts more than labor. I’ve never given birth so I can’t really say how truthful that statement is but it is has been the most painful experience of my life. The doctors always ask on a scale of 1 to 10, this was a 10 and then the day after a steady 7 feels wonderful.
Pain is often overlooked in fiction, especially in action or adventure stories and I can understand why, no one wants to read about how the hero wallowed around and then got captured. Plus adrenaline is an amazing thing, hearing my little one crying while I was half-awake sent me into super-daddy mode and the pain was momentarily forgotten to rush downstairs to comfort my baby. About half-way down my wife informed me all was well and I was faced with the sudden unfathomable depth of fatigue as the rush ended. Boy, did that suck.
In my life I’ve jumped from runaway motorcycles, crashed an ATV so bad I broke, a helmet, and have dangled over a cliff while wondering if the rocks below were sharp enough to break my skin. As oddly as it sounds these moments were pretty much laughed off since I was with my friends and at the wonderful age where mortality is something old people think about.
Now I know pain, I know how it feels to hall your aching muscles up from the ground and push onward through a haze of mind-numbing medication to rescue that one you love. I also know how the crash feels afterwards, the sudden and all-encompassing resurgence of every over taxed inch of protesting muscle.
Pretty good if I say so myself.