Last month’s concussion continues to mess with me. The docs told me to expect a long recovery, weeks for certain and months probably. The work-related problems are bad enough — my reading speed isn’t back yet, and I get too tired to write about an hour earlier in the evening than I’m accustomed to — but the human problems are worse. My temper’s shorter, I’m more impulsive. In those ways, it’s as if I’ve reverted to the person I was in my 20’s; she had her good points, but I wouldn’t want to be her again. I have cursed like a Jersey girl in front of my kids, and a couple of times at them, because the customs inspection station between my mind and my mouth is closed until further notice.
The whole experience is giving me a bad case of compassion for football players. I never really wanted to feel compassion for football players. Is this how it feels to get over a long-held bias? If so, no wonder progress toward social justice takes so long. This is kind of awful. Some days I don’t know whether I’m more embarrassed about my former contempt for the football-playing demographic, or about watching that comfortable contempt fade away.
So it’s hard to tell whether the concussion has, on balance, made me a better person or a worse one so far. The docs say I’ll get all my impulse control, patience, and multitasking ability back eventually. Eventually.
Despite all that, I’ve written a couple of book reviews for Black Gate.
Garth Nix’s new novel of the Old Kingdom, Clariel, tries to be a stand-alone story. I think it succeeds as a novel, but not so well as a stand-alone. It’s still worth any fantasy reader’s while to go back to the beginning and start with Sabriel. (Here’s why.)
Tom Doyle’s debut novel, American Craftsmen, knocked my socks off. It’s a delightfully multilayered book. It hits a lot of the same sweet spots that early Tom Clancy novels hit, yet it’s also a family saga about rival magical lineages struggling to direct America’s national occult defense. And then there are the little metalevel in-jokes Doyle has nestled into the details of his fast-paced plot, waiting for readers who remember enough of American history and American literature to spot them.
Weirdest accomplishment of my immediately post-concussion period: During the early days, when I was not only supposed to refrain from reading, but in fact had been advised to avert my eyes if I happened to glance accidentally at text (!), I knitted a cowl almost entirely by touch in full darkness. Admittedly, for casting on and binding off, I had to cheat on the full darkness part and work in low light, but otherwise I knitted like a blind person. Never dropped a single stitch.
Most striking change in my writing voice, post-concussion: Adverbs seem more essential than they used to. I try to cut them, but they cling to their sentences, and, ineluctably, I put them right back in. I really look forward to recovering from that part. Really. Intensely. Avidly.