I don't get sick a whole lot. However, I did catch the cold thing that's been going around here lately. Possibly, it was the lack of sleep that did it. I had three or four nights in a row with little or restless sleep, including the one before I had to get my blood taken from me and one where I went to a midnight pre-release Magic tournament from which I didn't get home until 5:00am. Why, yes, I am getting a little too old for that stuff, but only because my body can't recover very well anymore. Not! because I'm too old. No, those aren't the same things!
So I got sick with this cold which I didn't realize, at first, was me getting sick since it started during the Magic tournament with my throat getting sore; I just thought it was the lack of water and how tired I was, but it persisted all through Saturday and, by Sunday, I felt pretty terrible. Sunday night, I felt especially terrible, and I woke up Monday morning feeling none to great. But I went back to sleep (not by choice) after I took the kids to school and felt a bit better once I woke up. So, now, I'm over the sick part of the sick and just have the aftereffects to deal with.
Several years ago while at the doctor's office, probably with one of the kids for one of the vast numbers of possibilities for which I could have been there with a kid, I noticed a chart. A chart about colds and flu and longevity. Basically, the "sick" part of being sick for either the cold or flu is quite short, usually less than a week, often not more than a couple of days; however, the aftermath of the being sick can last up to four to six weeks. Yes, I said weeks. A month or more of snot and mucus and coughing and whatever other lingering things can happen. There were more (I'm sure), but I mostly just focused on the snot. Look, when you're a parent, snot is one of those things that you just sort of have to know about.
It's just kind of not fair. I mean, you catch a cold and you get a sore throat and cough and, maybe, have a headache. Or whatever. And your body comes in and says, "Hulk SMASH!" and takes care of the cold. It kills it dead. DEAD! Two days to muster the troops and slap the sick right out of you. But, then, you have a month, a freaking month, of damage control and cleanup.
Yes, that's where I am, right now, the cleanup. Meaning the mucus. I feel fine except for all of the snot draining out of my body, and, really, how can there be SO MUCH after being sick for just two days? It's kind of insane. Plus, all of the snot stops up my ears and makes my head hurt. So, yea, I'm not sick anymore, but I'm going to have a week of sinus headaches as my body packs mucus into my head. Why isn't there a better way to get rid of that stuff than through my nose? Seriously.
There I was in the kitchen blowing my nose and, well, you know, checking the paper towel for color and consistency and stuff (because that tells you how much more you can expect! geez!) when I had a realization: A good book sticks with you just like snot does after being sick. Okay, so, maybe, that's a little gross, but it's true.
Some books you read, you shrug, you put it away, and you barely ever think of it again. But some books stick with you and make you think and continue to stick with you and poke at your mind every so often and it's like having a head full of mucus. I mean, you put the book away, but it's sticking with you for the next four to six weeks. And that's when you know it's a good book, when it's like a bad cold.
To carry the analogy just a step further, those books happen more frequently when we're younger, just like kids get sick a lot more than adults do. Man, I used to hate the first few months of every school year, because I knew it was just going to be one sick kid after the other, but, as they get older, they build up their immune systems (thank God!) and not every bug that comes along gets into them. And books are like that. Each new book we read as a kid is a NEW BOOK! and is much more likely to get under our skins. But the next book that's like that one is much less likely to make an impact.
Which is why, as an adult, it's impressive when you read a book that really infects you. A book that gets in there and makes you think and stays with you and has long lasting aftereffects. I have to admit, I've been inoculated against a lot of books, so it takes a lot for a book to really make me continue to think about it weeks after the fact. But those are the best books. Those are the books I look for.
And those are the kinds of books I want to write.