April reads and thank goodness for magazines!

Thank goodness for magazines!

“Say, what?” I hear you yelling. “You gotta be pulling my leg!” Coming from an addicted-and-proud-of-it-dammit! novel-reader whose shelves are overflowing with aforementioned novels this is pretty rich, don’t ya think?

Well, I never thought I’d say this, but thank god for magazines – and I’m talking any and all magazines, here. They certainly had their place last week, I’m telling you! Now before I get into why I became a temporary magazine addict despite having a very large and hugely fascinating novel in my bag, I must clarify my relationship with magazines: aside from the periodicals I subscribe to – Foodtown magazine, RWA Romance Writers Report, RWNZ’s Heart to Heart and the incomparable Romantic Times Book Reviews – I might pick up a magazine in a waiting room and peruse it but I only very rarely purchase one. I have to be pretty desperate i.e. very early for an appointment and needing something to read while I drink my latte before I’ll fork out actual money for a mag. I’d rather put that $6-$9 or so towards a paperback. So why the temporary change of heart?

I read every magazine I could lay my hands on because I just couldn’t concentrate on a novel… not just the one I had in my bag, but any novel. For an entire week, my brain was incapable of digesting anything other than articles and pictures. In fact, I even resorted to reading Dolly – which is a bit sad when you consider I’m 43 and certainly no dollybird! But hey, those articles on boyfriends and makeup (not that I can wear any), trendy clothes and raunchy behaviour got me through a really tough time.

You see, I took both my kids to the doctor and ended up in the ambulance on the way to hospital. Youngest son had appendicitis. We were admitted to ED at 11am on the Wednesday, he was finally operated on at midnight, by which time his appendix had burst. Now I’m not going to bother with how appalling that sounds. It WAS appalling, but the hospital staff did their best within an ailing hospital system and it is that entire structure of our public hospitals that is to blame – not the staff. I will say no more about a system or structure which allows our kids to spend 13 hours in intense pain before they can be operated on. And I say ‘kids’ because my son wasn’t the only little boy who’s appendix burst before they got to him that day.

Anyway, my son’s op took 4 1/2 hours and he spent five days in recovery, while I spent 5 nights sleeping on a mattress next to his bed. And we both got progressively more and more exhausted as nurses came in and out every few hours each night, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter came and went right outside our window during the night, and patients (and their parents and siblings) came and went in the next bed. So even though my dear hubby had thoughtfully packed the big meaty novel I was in the middle of reading in my overnight bag along with my clothes etc, I was too exhausted, too damned shell-shocked to concentrate on it.

And if you’ve ever had the misfortune to spend days at a time either in hospital or staying with a child, there’s an awful lot of waiting around. Waiting for the surgical registrar’s morning visit. Waiting for the nurse to come with your child’s next dose of pain meds, waiting for the intravenous antibiotics to finish and that bloody machine to start beeping… Just waiting.

And when your child is actually medicated enough to sleep, it’s boring. You can’t sleep because there’s no bed – you have to pack up that mattress every morning and stow it away. You also can’t sleep because your other child, who’s got suspected glandular fever and is home from school, is there with you, waiting for dad to finish up with that urgent work he’s got so she can go home. She’s happily reading, but your mind is just blown and your concentration’s all over the place. You can’t even watch TV coz it’ll wake your son or annoy the patient in the next bed. Hence the magazines. Flick through them, check out the pictures. Go back and read some of the articles. Go back and read every single article. Go back and do the quizzes. And the crosswords, if someone hasn’t beaten you to it. Thank god for magazines! And the dad whose son was in the next bed for a day, who kindly gave me his son’s stack of mags to devour.

So there it is, folks: the reason behind my shockingly low reading list this month. Oh how the mighty have fallen! Back in the saddle now (so to speak) but still haven’t been able to write anything new. Still tightning up POVs and ruthlessly deleting scenes from an old manuscript in preparation for marketing it.

Just feel a bit flat at the mo, like the most important thing in my life – i.e. writing – isn’t so vitally important anymore. For the first time ever I laughed at some of the negative comments I got in a recent comp. Who cares? It finalled in The Sheila, so someone liked it. I just saved the scoresheets and filed them away rather than angsting over them. Nothing like having one of your children in hospital with something really serious and watching him try to be brave and not to cry from the pain, nothing like seeing the devastation on a grandmother’s face and the tears running down her cheeks as she told me about her grandson’s awful diagnosis, nothing like talking to an exhausted surgeon who’s been operating round the clock but still took the time to tell me about my son’s operation and show me laproscopic photos of the procedure at 5.30am to put one’s life in perspective.

Oh, don’t get me wrong: I’ll start writing again, soon. It’s all up there in my head, waiting to come out on paper. It’s in my blood, my heart and my soul and I can’t stop now. I won’t stop. But just like the inability to read a novel for that five or six days and turning to magazines, my inner muse will take a bit of time to get going. This blog is the first thing I’ve written since my son was discharged from hospital so it’s a good start. As they say about cheese on the Mainland ads: good things take time!

Here’s my very short list of April reads… mind you, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a whopping 1006 pages, so perhaps I haven’t done too badly:

-Judgment In Death by J.D. Robb
-Portrait In Death by J.D. Robb
-Imitation In Death by J.D. Robb
-Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
-A Place Called Here by Cecelia Ahern
-Dead Sexy by Kimberly Raye
-Drop Dead Gorgeous by Kimberly Raye
-The Forsaken by L.A. Banks
-A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
-Grave Peril by Jim Butcher



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