02 June 2011

Careful who's listening

Cartoon courtesy of Mark du Toit

I'm in the opening stages of another book at the moment, and researching my little socks off. This has caused a certain amount of domestic alarm. Beloved mother, you see, was a nurse before she retired, so when she rang her eldest daughter to ask how she was and how The Boy did in his school cross country race, she got a barrage of questions I had been saving up to ask her. They went a bit like this:

  • How often do you turn someone who is completely paralysed to prevent bedsores?
  • Would you feed them through a tube?
  • How soon would muscle wastage set in?
  • What kind of physical therapy would they receive?
  • If someone was just pretending to be paralysed, would the therapist be able to feel it?

We wittered on for about twenty minutes about the care and treatment of paralysis, until suddenly I hear: "No, stop it. Give me the phone back, go away. Everyone's fine. Stop worrying."

Then in a tone of complete exasperation: "She's writing another book."

Turns out that esteemed stepfather was having kittens listening to her end of the conversation, thinking that someone in the family was paralysed and in hospital. I suppose it's slightly better than being caught trying to find out how to be an effective terrorist.

And so my personal contribution to the craft of writing today is: when you do your research, be careful who's listening.

My writing challenge is going to be how to cover do-it-yourself catheter removal when breaking out of hospital. Sexy, huh?


  1. If I suspected you were an evil person, I would think you'd done that on purpose. But so far you've resisted the siren call of your bad influence(r)s, so I think you're safe, eh.

  2. See this halo? Catch the frisbee!

  3. Could be worse, I had to spend a LOT of time at the local witch hangout

  4. To remove a catheter, grit teeth and PULLLLLLL!

  5. It's not only verbal research you have to be careful about. I no longer travel with my laptop because on entering the States Homeland Security is entitled to check the content of hard disks. I've research on there about bombs and guns and biotech weapons. No way would they believe it was for a fanfic. Not on a laptop coming from the Middle East!

  6. Dee, after gulping with horror at your method of catheter removal--just had to tell whoever may be interested---to keep the catheter in there's a balloon filled with 30mls of water holding it in situ!!!!! I know my daughter can be evil(don't know where she get it from) but noooooo!

  7. @Jan, having now met the smiling minions of Homeland Security myself, I totally get where you're coming from. Being able to write while you're in the US would be no consolation for the body cavity search.

  8. @mum and @Dee, I wonder if this might be one of those opposite sides of the Atlantic thing. Hmm, time to research national catheter preferences. Alternatively, catheters at dawn it is.


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