Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Being interesting

by: Joelle Charbonneau

I’m sick. Or perhaps I should say, I'm as sick as I am allowed to be. There's still work to be done, lessons to teach, writing to do, etc… The tot is also coming down with a cold and if things play out as usual, the husband will be showing signs of illness soon. Which means as much as I’d prefer to stay in bed with a good book and a cup of tea, I'll instead be tending to my family while pretending I don’t feel like a truck ran over me.

Which got me to thinking. In the books I read, none of the protagonists get sick. I mean, not really. They might have broken bones, or are in wheelchairs or they might even have a cold – but they aren’t allowed to be sick.

You know what I mean. I’m certain it happens at your house. You have a 101 degree fever, but there is dinner to make or a meeting you can’t possibly miss at work. So you pretend you aren’t as sick as you feel. You load up on orange juice and whatever antihistamines you have in your cabinets and off you go to live your life as though nothing is bothering you.

Protagonists in books are the same way. No matter how bad they feel, they aren’t allowed to be sick. They might sniffle a bit and tuck some Kleenex in their purses, but that doesn’t stop them from tracking down clues, being a support system to their friends and solving murders. Cause let’s face it, no one wants to read about a person who is sitting in bed waiting for their illness to pass them by. The illness makes them sympathetic, but it is everything else they do that makes the character and the story interesting.

So, while this week progresses, I’m going to pretend I’m the protagonist of my own personal drama. When I’m getting annoyed that no one is letting me be sick, I’m going to remind myself that really they are just encouraging me to be interesting. Please feel free to play the game with me. Tell me what you wish you’d be allowed to slack off on this week and how you plan on being very interesting instead.


  1. Sorry you're sick, pumpkin. Summer colds are the worst - and you never get as much sympathy for a summer cold as you do for a winter cold. but they are SOOOO much more interesting.
    This week I'm going to slack off on housework. And gardenwork. I'm going to pretend I'm in a cabin somewhere that I didn't have to clean, maintain, prune and fish the frogs out of the swimming pool..

  2. My mom always said that the only time a mother is allowed to really be sick is when her own mother is around. Because who else is going to take care of her? (Properly, I mean.) ;-)

    Feel better fast, Joelle! The summer cold season has been rough this year.


  3. This is again one of the good breaks of not having kids: it's just me and that other grown-up, my spouse, around here and if one of us is very sick, no one else has to suffer (much).

    I do have one peeve with people who choose to be "interesting" in my vicinity: I hate when someone CAN miss something slated to be done in mixed company but just won't stay away, sometimes thinking they are just so freakin' indispensable to life as we all know it, and they come in sick and spread that illness. Thanks, thanks a lot. In a few days, the incubator will feel all better but the rest of us and those in our orbit will feel like crap.

    Seriously, in an age of teleconferencing, etc., if you are contagiously sick, stay away from others so you don't spread it around! I find it extremely rude and vain for someone to come in sniffling and coughing near me and my colleagues because they somehow think that we just can't do without them and their input! Nothing is worth someone's health--not their own health or the health of others.

    Once a person isn't contagious, I don't mind if they are around but I do question the reasoning of believing their own general well-being should be risked just to make that meeting, see that client, etc. You've got to take care of yourself because you're most responsible for doing that.

  4. Get well quick. I remember those days of having to take care of sick kids and hubby when I was sick too. It's not easy. Nowadays when I start feeling like I'm getting a cold I take Zycam and lots of Echinachea, it does help.


  5. I hope you feel better soon.

  6. Hi, Joelle, hope your illness is a short one. Lots of hand washing may save your husband :)

    While I do have a bit of an allergy thing going, Sudafed is taking care of it. My "illness" is my kids going back to school. Boo hoo! I don't want to do anything but hang out with my soon-to-be H.S. senior son and my 6th grade daughter. Am ignoring the nonfiction assignment I have (I can write 7 stories Thurs and Fri while they are away, right?)
    Working on the fiction. Love fantasy land when I'm sick.
    I'm simultaneously scheming about what great thing we can do to end off a terrific summer here in Indiana. Visit the Colts training camp? Maybe. Take in a another day at the state fair? Possibly.
    Lay around and let them sleep until 11 a.m.? Check!
    I do feel I'm coming down with something--can a mom be homesick at home, missing the kids at school? Maybe will call in sick to the part-time job today. This could be contagious. lol

  7. Joelle, sorry you're ailing! There's nothing worse than having to attend to the needs of a toddler when you're not feeling well because they DON'T STOP MOVING! I wish I lived closer so I could lend a hand. Maggie

  8. Sick protags? Weren't all the women in the Bronte books sick? That one in VILLETTE? Lucy Snow? Wasn't she sick? And 73% of all Dickens characters were sick and dying.

    You're right. Why aren't protags sick these days? Perhaps it's our affordable health care? We're still talking fiction, right?

  9. Thanks all! I'm already feeling better reading the comments. Here is hoping the tot will recover soon so we can be interesting without infecting the world.

    PS...Rosemary - I wish I lived near you. Your slacking off sounds like fabulous fun:)

  10. What's the Chinese curse? "May you live in interesting times." I'll take a dash less interesting and tad more in bed with a book, thanks. :) Get well soon!

  11. Joelle, I hope you feel better soon:)

    I'm on deadline with my book and wishing I could stop time this week to just sit and write. Of course, everything still has to be done, right? The dog is now trying to get sick on me and I'm almost envious of him. He lies around on his big pillow and everyone pets him.