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My Unique Writer's Retreat

During the derecho in Maryland this past July, I fell down the dark basement stairs and broke my right fibula. Even at the moment of falling, I knew I hadn't sprained my ankle because I heard the bone snap like a twig. A visit to my local ER confirmed the nature of my injury, but not its severity. "It's a simple fracture," said the P.A. "No surgery needed."

Two days later when I saw the leading ankle surgeon in D.C., I received surprising news. I'd given myself a spiral fracture requiring immediate repair. I had surgery the next morning and a day later I was home recuperating, sleeping on a hospital bed in my living room (since my bedroom is upstairs) and rolling around in a wheelchair since I was not adept at crutches.

I was amazed by my own upbeat reaction to this trauma. But quite honestly I felt I'd done it to myself by not taking a flashlight to the basement, and I felt incredibly grateful that I hadn't (a) died, (b) paralyzed myself, or (c) broken my arm and wrist too. Bottom line: I knew could sit in my wheelchair and write at the dining room table to my heart's content. And that's how I spent my summer.

By Labor Day I had completed half a novel in progress and done all the research for my third (planned) novel about sharpshooter Annie Oakley. So I made lemonade from lemons, and though I don't recommend breaking a leg to focus harder on writing, I was not in pain and I was given a golden opportunity to concentrate without the usual social distractions--lunches with friends or a vacation with my husband and daughter. For much of my recuperation, I didn't even have a television, which proved to be a good thing. It was my own version of a retreat in which reading and writing were my main activities.

As of today, the leg/ankle/foot are healing beautifully, and my second novel is coming along. Now if I could only persuade myself to walk down those basement stairs to the washing machine...  Read More 
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