Hi all, I haven’t posted anything on this blog for a long time, and some of you may think I have dropped off the face of the earth. Well sort of . . . Many of you already know this, but for those who haven’t heard yet, I have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. According to Wiki “Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems.” I won’t bore you with the full range of symptoms I am currently coping with. I’ll just say that I had a series of MS attacks over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays at the end of 2016, which made me think it was perhaps time for me to retire from writing full time. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, but three and a half months into that, I’ve found I can’t stand myself when I’m not writing. Life is just too boring and meaningless if I’m not making up stories. So I have come up with several ideas for new books, which I’m tinkering with at the moment, however to get those ideas on paper, I’ve got to get back into the habit of writing every day—and somehow convince my physically impaired mind and body that it can do this. As an exercise and just for the fun of it then, I’ve decided to do a series of posts about the making of the Dragonbound series.
Since my own disability is currently on my mind, I figure I should start with Kanvar. Kanvar is the central character in the Dragonbound series. Readers will know that Kanvar was born with significant disabilities. When I was young, I read with horror about the affects of a drug called Thalidomide. Wiki explains Thalidomide “was used against nausea and to alleviate morning sickness in pregnant women. Shortly after the drug was sold in West Germany, between 5,000 and 7,000 infants were born with phocomelia (malformation of the limbs).” The pictures I saw of children affected by Thalidomide never stopped bothering me. Though Kanvar’s disabilities are genetic and not caused by a drug, I based them on some of the pictures I’d seen. It is said that we write to dispel the horrors in our own minds. Or as Stephen King puts it “We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” Kanvar’s half-sized left arm that ends in a partial hand of only three fingers and his clubbed left foot are an expression of that. I had seen the horrors of Thalidomide early in my life and now sought a strong character who could overcome that memory for me.
But, Kanvar’s disability goes even deeper than that for me. I have to say, he is the easiest character I’ve had to get into the headspace to write. I can slide into Kanvar’s mind and body instantly if I want to. Some, even most characters, are hard for me to get grounded into their mindset to write from their point of view. Not so for me with Kanvar. As a toddler, I was severely knock-kneed and had to wear corrective shoes day and night. They were the ugliest most irritating things ever invented IMHO. So much so that even though I was young enough I shouldn’t have any memory of wearing them, I totally do. Stupid, ugly shoes. Eventually my legs straightened out so I looked and walked normally, but my kneecaps were always tilted weird which rubbed the cartilage and caused inflammation etc. As a youngster, I wanted to run marathons and dance ballet and stuff, but my stupid knees, ARG. I learned that those things would have to wait for a more perfect body in another lifetime. But, I wasn’t going to let them stop me from doing other things I wanted to do–hiking, backpacking, climbing mountains, horseback riding, dog sledding. I found that I could do all of those things . . . not as fast as other people, not as well as other people, but I could do them my own speed in my own way. When I was younger, I was accused of being obstinate and determined in pursuit of goals. Kanvar carries that obstinacy and determination to overcome his challenges as well. I think there is a bit of me in all of the characters I write, but Kanvar stands out as being an amplified personification of my own physical struggles and determination to overcome them.
Well, now I have a whole new set of physical struggles to overcome. So I’m saying to myself, what would Kanvar do if he were diagnosed with MS? Darn it, that means I have to get my butt off the couch, stop Netflixing, and get back to work. My next post will be about some other aspect of Dragonbound. If I don’t post it right away, those of you who have my email address should send me taunting emails to help me in my resolve to start writing again. 😀