Last week I fell out of bed, something I vaguely recollect happening to me once as a child. Funny isn’t it – right up there with slipping on a banana skin, or walking into a lamppost. I can laugh at it too now but at the time it didn’t seem funny. It isn’t something I imagined would hurt very much. After all, the bed isn’t that high off the floor – about a metre – and I was asleep so I must’ve been relaxed which, combined with landing on a carpet, should’ve eased my fall. Actually, I rolled backwards out of bed lending a certain momentum as I spun towards the ground and then smacked face-first into the wardrobe near the bed. I didn’t wake up during the fall – the first thing I remember is sitting dazed on the floor besides the bed wondering what the hell had hit me and trying to stem the flow of blood from my nose (and uttering a few choice swearwords that I’m not proud of!). It didn’t do Mrs D much good being woken in the middle of the night by a loud bang and a lot of swearing and putting the light on to find me sitting on the floor next to the bed soaked in blood. Luckily for me, no bones were broken: I was just bruised and battered. For the next couple of days my nose glowed like Rudolph the Reindeer’s and I had to put up with my friends and family crying with laughter at my misfortune.
So what has this to do with writing? Well, they do say ‘write what you know’ and I can now write with first-hand knowledge about what it’s like to be woken by a sudden blow to the face; how it took two cups of hot tea and over an hour to get over the shock; how getting back into bed was a bit like climbing back onto a horse that had just thrown me; how, a week later my nose is still sore and a little swollen making my glasses uncomfortable to wear. I also learned that blood can be washed out of a pale carpet after several applications of carpet shampoo (although I’m sure forensic scientists would easily find traces remaining).
Much of this will no doubt find its way into one or more of my crime stories. Of course, it won’t be about falling out of bed but I can now imagine how it would feel if intruders decided to wake me with a baseball bat for the combination to my safe.
Everything that happens to us as writers is useful in some way and even through the worst of times (and far worse things than falling out of bed happen) I find myself guiltily stepping back to take note of my emotions and feelings at the time for potential future use. Guilty because it can make one feel a bit like a photographer in a war zone taking a picture to share with the world before actually reaching out to help the individual suffering in front of you.