Novel Writing, Toothaches, Silas Marner, and Tomorrow

I hit 40,367 words on my novel yesterday, not including two notebooks full of (mostly useless) material I’ve yet to type into a Word document.

The most recent progress is attributable to Mark Sarvas, who gave me some tough love when we met at Cedar Tavern last month, posing a question a friend recently asked him:

Are you a blogger or are you a writer? And if you’re a writer, why the fuck aren’t you writing?

I promised Mark I’d bang out 500 words a day until I finished a full draft, and he promised he’d do the same. The penalty for failing to follow through is public mockery.

Right now I’m wondering how I’ll manage to meet today’s word quota. Thanks to my (possibly incompetent, now former) dentist, one of my broken teeth is sending shooting pains into my ear and down my throat.

I feel woozy, unsteady on my feet, and I’ve spent the afternoon cursing my English/Scottish/Irish ancestry: not only am I doomed to a lifelong internal civil war, but before long all of my teeth will fall out and when my nose turns red on cold days I’ll look even more like a frightening witch-clown.

When I told her about my tooth mishaps last month, a friend urged me to:

protect what’s left of the teeth before the plaque enters your bloodstream and you develop a systemic infection and die horribly. Kinda like that guy in Silas Marner? Yeah.

That’s what I kept thinking about as I lay in bed last night: the plaque infection marching through my bloodstream. Also, the guy in Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories who crashed his car and woke up in the hospital because, despite his dentist’s admonitions, he’d ignored a decaying root. And my mom’s friend’s son who perished suddenly from an undetected abscess.

So I got up and told Mr. Maud what he should do with my possessions if I died in the night. He looked both amused and terrified — an expression he’s had ample opportunity to perfect in our time together — and suggested I see a new dentist.

Normally Annie Reid takes over the site on Fridays, and soon Emma Garman will step in on the first Friday of every month. But tomorrow you’re stuck with me, assuming I’m still sentient and able to function before my emergency dental appointment tomorrow afternoon.


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