So, I’m sitting here at my machine, and in between sneezes, coughs, and attempts to clear my sinuses (and everything attached thereto), I’m thinking it’s way past time for me to post something useful and writerly. (“Writerly” is a word, by God; I don’t care what Grammarly says.)

Alas, the muse must also be sneezing, coughing, and blowing her nose, because she certainly hasn’t blessed me with any ideas about a topic. We’re sick, y’see. Both of us.

Honking, hacking, and hankies have become our/my stock in trade. I picked up this damned bug in suburban Portland, Oregon, where it likely gestated for a geological age or two, just waiting for some poor schlub from the hills of Appalachia to come along and give it a home. Mission accomplished. The Portland pathogen has arrived. Yea team. <wheeze>

And then it occurred to me that I could write about being unwell, physically. Mentally? Who the hell knows, or cares? The thing is, fictional characters can be ill, too. And that got me to thinking about the characters I’ve dreamed up who weren’t in the best physical shape.

I’ve featured several characters with disabilities: Meadow in Whisper  had a club foot; in Treason, Treason! two characters, Benedict Arnold and Joel Dawkins–one historical and one fictional–both suffered from the effects of gunshots to the leg. In the Druids trilogy, an untold number of characters suffered from dreadful wounds, and in one case, cancer. But as best I can recall, none of my characters ever had a cold.

As someone who prides himself on finding ways to complicate the lives, and by extension, the plots of my characters, it’s clearly high time to drop a bucket of bacterium on one or more of them. Heh, heh. Poor darlings. But I won’t be killing them, oh no. I’ll simply let ’em stew in their own microbial juices. Their lungs will become phlegm factories; their sinuses will flow like Victoria Falls in the rainy season. Their heads will become storage areas for cotton bales, and their ears will pop if and when they cease to ache.

Oh, and their doctors will be away on holiday, all of them. The nurse practitioner at the local pharmacy will likewise be unavailable. The ER at the nearby hospital will feature a sign that reads: “Standing Room Only!”

Over-the-counter meds will provide temporary respite but only at the cost of muddled brains, upset bowels, and/or nervous tics. They’ll be sneezing on loved ones, coughing on their offspring, growling at their pets, and wishing they had the energy to crawl into a shower stall and hose themselves down. That, of course, assumes there would be any hot water available.

If “write what you know” is truly a thing–and I’ll offer my thoughts on that in a broader sense at some point–then I’m merely taking advantage of what I’ve “learned” in this latest mucus laden lesson.

(I’m feeling positively gleeful right now–giddy, giggly, and vengeful. It’s most likely due to the meds. The labels on those old plastic pill bottles didn’t fare well when the bathroom flooded. Or maybe it has something to do with what I added to my coffee. Whatever.)

In short, I’ll deliver unto my cast of imaginary victims everything I’ve gone through during any illness I can recall, including the effects from the current plague of microorganisms running amuck inside me now. “Pestilence is mine,” sayeth the writer!

I’ll show them!


By cracky.




About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Historical writing, novel writing, short fiction, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Happy–cough–New–snort–Year!

  1. Don says:

    Since you are an author and since you make stuff up, writerly can be a word if you deem it so. But you are correct in this case, it is a real word. Sorry that both of you are sick, perhaps you’ve taken the time to construct a bubble around your house to protect your neighbors. It is amazing to me that you can find topical Inspiration from almost anything to write about. But then again you are an author. Looking forward to your characters who are desperately ill but fortunately will recover. It will build character. As do most adversities in our lives. Wishing Both of you a speedy recovery. And remember hack, cough and wheeze will run it’s course and be a distant memory if you allow it be so.

    • joshlangston says:

      Thanks, Don; the bubble is nearly complete. And please know that you’ve provided still more inspiration. At some point, I shall introduce a trio of miscreants named Hack, Cough, and Wheeze. They might be brothers!

  2. Amanda Robinson says:

    Hope you’re feeling better soon!

    • joshlangston says:

      Thanks, Amanda. We’re definitely working on it!

      • Patricia says:

        So sorry for the both of you ♡ Hope you feel better soon. Hope you had a great trip. Catching bugs were not on your agenda. Get plenty of lysol & wipes you will be back in commission soon. Also drink plenty of water not martini s.
        Love you both bunches ♡ ♡ ♡

      • joshlangston says:

        Okay, no martinis; I promise. But Manhattans…. Now that’s a different story! No promises there, m’dear.

  3. John LANGSTON says:

    Wow, sorry to hear of your current ailments.😐 And just when we were about to invite you up for a stay. Best to keep the infestation in Appalachia.😎
    I like the idea of infecting your characters with yet to be discovered ailments. Actually I’m feeling a little woosey myself just reading about the possibilities.
    Get well soon ya’ll. Remember, there’s golf to be played in the near future! 😁

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

    • joshlangston says:

      Oh my, the ideas are flowing like the river emanating from my sinus cavity. A golf adventure while suffering from the flu. Imagine a gawdawful sneeze during a critical putt, or a coughing fit at the worst possible moment–or a sneeze in someone’s beer! Thank you for helping me through my delirium, bro!

  4. sonyabravermanaolcom says:

    Awww, Josh. Take care of yourself. And keep on writing in the entertaining way only you can do!

  5. I’ve had it too…But had to press on 85+ hours the last two weeks. Hope you two feel better soon! Just remember, it could be worse… the Spanish flu pandemic 0f 1918. I’ve inflicted some of the characters in my new novel with it, and it wasn’t pretty. Feel better! JM

  6. Barry Womack says:

    Wow. You write better with cotton bating twixt your ears than I do clear headed. Sorry. Gotta go. I
    forgot to spray my mouse with disinfectant.

  7. polinto says:

    Unfortunately I’ve been fighting a light version of the flu, but seem better than you do. I’m glad it didn’t work to go to Sonya’s on Saturday because I would have been contagious then, and I worry about Jim who is losing weight again.


  8. Lloyd Blackwell says:

    No fun and no pun but “hang in and keep on sneezing or wheezing – NO NO, I meant to say keep on plugging! Trust you are better and hope to see you tomorrow. BTW, with my puny immune system and health issues you will now ALWAYS see me wearing a surgical mask!

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