Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Writer friends, do you ever wonder if you might be in a little too deep as a writer? I think I may be in too deep….


bwi18Here’s one sign…  You wake up after having broken face surgery and the first thing you do is have your husband take pictures of your hospital room.

Okay, so it wasn’t REALLY the first thing I did, but that definitely did happen.

Back story: So about a month and a half ago I decided, hey, writing a motorbike for the first time ever after not even driving a car for six months sounds like a great idea. In Cambodia. So I was trying to turn and I kind of face-planted in a ditch that was about 6 feet deep according to my poor, probably slightly traumatized brother. FYI: Cambodia is not the most medically advanced country in the world. But I did get an ambulance ride, a private room (which was combination supply closet), and pretty comprehensive treatment for what they had there. Never mind that no one spoke English and I had a concussion and apparently stitches and no memory of what happened for about an hour. On the plus side, all that, only $130 USD lol.

Anyway, so I went to a public hospital in Singapore because, you know, I had some kind of stitches in my leg (not sure if dissolvable or not) and I obviously hit my head and face and had a concussion. The doctor was like, why are you here? You were treated in Cambodia. And I said, yeah exactly, and my face is still weird and my teeth are numb. So he took some x-rays at my insistence and determined there was fluid in my face and he couldn’t see anything. Okay, awesome. Then he made me an appointment with a plastic surgeon like a month later. Why? I don’t know lol. So this was end of July.

Then last week, I had a filling issue. I went to see my dentist at a private hospital and got my filling fixed then mentioned, hey my teeth are still numb and my face is weird. He had me get a CT scan THAT DAY. And apparently my face was broken in two places. The bone under my eye and the top of my jaw. Which is why all my nerves were messed up. Thanks awesome Singapore public hospital jerk ER doctor for NOT catching that and NOT suggesting, hey maybe we should get you a CT scan to be sure. Fast forward from end of July to first week of September. Had CT scan and was in for surgery less than 48 hours later (this Saturday). Apparently my face was actually broken in THREE places, the side of my jaw, too. Extra props to that awesome first Singapore ER doctor for completely missing the fact that my face was broken in three places and not bothering to give me a follow-up appointment until the end of August, which then was pushed back to the second week of September. My face should have been operated on within two weeks not six. So gold star for you, Singapore Public Hospital that shall remain nameless but happens to be located on Alexandra Road. Gleneagles, you were amazing! Saved the day! Thank God I have medical insurance, that’s all I’ll say.

ANYYYYWAY so now I’m recovering and I’ll be fine. I like to look at the positive of things. So for this, it was getting the inside scoop on being in the hospital! In Hooligans, one of the characters ends up “in hospital,” but I’d never been a patient admitted to a hospital. So I got to go into an “operating theatre,” emerge from general anesthesia, play with the bed and the remote, eat crappy hospital food, have my blood pressure checked every hour, listen to the sounds of the hospital, and have an IV drip and all that. Now I can incorporate it into my story and make the hospital scenes even more real!

Here’s a few snapshots….


So this may be a sign that I’m a bit too committed to being authentic in my writing lol…. And that I should never ride a motorbike again.

Writer What lengths have you gone to in order to get your story accurate? Do you ever wonder if you get a bit overcommited?

19 thoughts on “Writer friends, do you ever wonder if you might be in a little too deep as a writer? I think I may be in too deep….

  1. Natacha Guyot

    Wishing you a speedy recovery! You definitely place the bar high, but your story reminded me of how I decided to give one of my characters (a roleplaying one, not even one in my original fiction) a medical condition based on the consequences of my gallbladder removal surgery. It was in the Star Wars universe, so I had plenty of options, but I based the consequences of a duel with a Sith on my personal medical experience so it felt more “real” (at least to me!)


  2. Jennifer Austin - Author

    I hope you recover soon! That experience sounds awful! So far I’ve been lucky on my research, just asking Hubby and my dad random questions about guns, survival skills and how to get a car running, and psychology questions to my uncle. I’ve had enough hospital time my hospital scenes are pretty accurate. And having your husband take pics is not weird at all! Writers should be committed to their writing or committed to an asylum. In some cases both!


  3. Marcus Case

    No, not too committed (always best to keep an eye open for useful material). Also, you don’t need to avoid getting on a motorbike again (it’s the way you get off it that matters). Do you think one of those Hooligans messed up your journey? Best wishes for a swift recovery!


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      I’d like to think that those Hooligans think relatively fondly of me, as I did my best to portray them as actual humans, but they can be troublemakers, so who knows? If it was those wee hallions, I may have to change a thing or two in my MS. Thanks for the well wishes!


  4. Charles Colp

    Like so many before me, and the many who didn’t post but still had the thought, I hope you heal quickly and with the least amount of pain. Now that the concern for your physical health is addressed, let me share a short story with you.
    I had a Mini-TIA event in February of last year. At the time I had no stories or characters dealing with a hospital. I did however have my writers cap on. I took pictures with my phone of everything I could find, I also wrote down anything I noticed about the hospital and being alone in the room. I wrote all of the noises coming from my neighbor, who hacked and coughed all night, I wrote about the stubborn older lady who refused to stay in her bed no matter how many times she collapsed in the hallway. In short, I made sure to get all the experiences on paper for future use. The nurses who were too sweet, the ones that actually looked angry that they had to work that day. The doctors sure of themselves even if they turned out to be wrong.
    I wrote everything I noticed, even when it got quiet. I may not be a doctor but I think I can diagnose you from here. You have a horrible case of being a writer. The only cure is to keep writing.


    1. sjoycarlson Post author

      LOL!!!!! So glad I’m not the only one with this horrible case of being a writer! A kindred spirit, Charles! All of my observations will find their way into print as well. Gotta make the most of any and all life experiences, don’t we? That’s the lifeblood of writing. And thanks for all the positive, healing thoughts!


  5. Mike O'Mara

    My first time riding a motorbike was in Thailand and I can definitely relate to this particular story. I remember reading a funny line in my guidebook before I got there that said something like “What in the first world would be a road hazard, in the third world is probably just the road.”

    Too true. I remember riding 60 km/h down the interstate in Thailand only to find myself suddenly on a rutted out, muddy road and nearly being shaken off my bike.

    Also, gotta love that cheap medical care down there!


  6. phantomwriter143

    Get well soon!
    And as gruesome as it sounds to get that kind of inspiration, I would get it all the time from the weird/suffering/depressed patients I treated every day in the hospital when I worked there. You get inspiration and information when and where you can, I suppose. For me, those patients were just as real as my characters, so giving them very human and ‘real’ emotions made my characters seem more relatable.


  7. Pingback: So…I’m moving from Singapore back to Wisconsin in less than twenty-four hours | Sarah J. Carlson, Author

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