Mining a Migraine

photo by Orchid_Mine at Flickr
*Used with artist’s permission*

A migraine swallowed my brain yesterday…the right half anyway. In the depths of the pain, when I could hardly keep a thought straight (like a bra strap that keeps slipping) I realized that I had to remember exactly how it felt (like a thing of living flame had swallowed half of my brain and was slowly digesting it in a stomach lined with long, thin razors). It wasn’t my first rodeo but I hadn’t really made an effort to remember (I’d so much rather curl up in a ball and forget) what it was like so that I could use it in a story. And I have a story in mind, have had it in mind for a long time, but the migraine part had always been hard to write. Somehow, even though I’ve survived hundreds (thousands? *shudder*) of them over the years, I couldn’t quite bring to mind just what it felt like. So last night I told myself to remember the roiling nausea, the pulsing pain, the light that felt like a flaming blade being plunged through my eye and into my brain and how, even though I’ve heard the brain doesn’t actually feel any pain itself, it felt like my brain was actually on fire. There are better words and images for this, I know, but I wanted to capture what I could before it slipped away from me (like trying to catch a fish by hand).

I’m not thrilled to have had another migraine. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And yet…it may add substantially to another story. I suppose that I can really start looking at all my life experiences like that. Seems a little (maybe more than a little?) twisted but also right. I thought that I had understood this concept (writing what you know) before, but it seems so much sharper to me now.

I’m picturing someone getting mugged and saying, “Okay, I’ll give you my wallet but let me just write down this experience first so I can use it in a story.” The mugger would no doubt be a little confused about that turn of events and the writer would then continue on and say, “It’s okay. I’m a writer.”

5 thoughts on “Mining a Migraine

  1. I’ve caught myself, in several should-be-purely-horrific experiences, thinking, “Oooh, but how good is this going to be for a story someday?” or something similar. It’s twisted and utilitarian, but also strangely comforting…and it can’t be a bad thing to find the positive in something otherwise negative, right? Right? 😉

  2. Sorry about the migraine. I hope it’s better. A writer is constantly on the look out for new ideas. There are so many possibilities, so many interesting situations.

    You know you’re a writer when you feel the need to write these things down. 🙂

    1. It is such an interesting way to look at the world. I know I’ve drawn on past experience when writing but hadn’t really thought about it. And I hadn’t really thought about it while an experience was happening. Now I’m wondering how much it changes the experience to be observing from a writer’s perspective…hmmm…isn’t that called the observer effect in psych…I’ve forgotten.

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