Five Bizarre Medical Practices

From my research log: Five Bizarre Nineteenth Century Medical Practices*

19th century medicine

Does a child have a bloody nose? Try dropping a key down his back between his clothes and skin.  It should swiftly remedy the problem.  It does not, however, have the same effect on adults.

Got a cold? Dip some flannel in boiling water, sprinkle it with turpentine, and lay it on your chest.

Do not visit a sick person if you are sweating or hungry.  These both leave you more susceptible to contracting the illness.

For Concussions: Call for the surgeon who may apply leeches if the brain gets inflamed. Antibilious pills (strong laxatives) may be given to clear the liver and promote better blood circulation. If the patient is unable to keep food down, an injection of equal parts milk and whiskey can be injected into the rectum.

And lastly, for a drowning victim, rub the body dry, clear the mouth, raise the head, and place in a warm bath.  Tickle the nose with a feather or use smelling salts.  When the victim starts to come to, give him a little wine or brandy. And whatever you do, do not hang the victim upside down by his ankles.

*obvious no-duh statement: do not try these at home, or anywhere else for that matter!

Sources:

19th Century Historical Tidbits

Discovering Lewis and Clark

The Book of Household Management

Medical Home Remedies: As Treated by 19th and 20th Century Doctors

Jane Austen’s World

Twelve Days and Twelve Ways to Brainstorm that Novel

countdown

NaNoWriMo starts in twelve short days.  Here are twelve ways to get ready to write that novel.

Keep in mind that even with elaborate planning, your novel will likely morph into a completely different beast than what you initially set out to write.  That’s ok.  Roll with it.

Day 1: Most novels are character driven.  Spend some time getting to know your main character (MC) better.  Take the Myers Briggs Test as your character.  This one is only four questions, so it is not the most thorough, but it is quick.  There are sixteen personality types based on those four questions. Find out what your character’s personality type is like.  This gives you a baseline perception of your MC.

Day 2: Create your character’s photo album. Include selfies, friends, home, school, places that are special.

Day 3: Write your main character’s diary.  Complete a few entries.  Try to find your character’s personality, likes, dislikes, what her friends are like, what she thinks and feels about things.  You could also complete a character questionnaire ( a lot available online, including the NaNoWriMo site), but the diary gets you writing, starts the flow, gets you thinking as your character.

Day 4: Setting: If you are writing in contemporary times in a place like where you live, than you have it easiest.  The further you deviate from the here and now, the more research you’re going to have to do.  Spend an hour researching your setting.  It won’t be much time.  Generate two lists: important info and questions I need to answer.  I keep my questions on index cards, hole punch them, and use a binder ring to keep them together.  But that’s just what I do.

Day 5: Setting: Pop culture – learn the music, books, and movies of the time.  Check out some of the books and movies from the library.  Make a playlist of the music your MC would listen to.  Surround yourself with things of the setting.

Day 6: The Antagonist: I wish I could remember where I once heard that the antagonist in your story, is the hero in his.  Head back to Myers Briggs and get to know your antagonist really well too.

Day 7: Write the scene where the MC and antagonist met.  This does not have to be used in your story, it could have happened before your story started.  If they do meet in your story, this will give you something to play with once November rolls around.

Day 8: Let the MC and antag write to each other – text, email, letters.  What are they going to say to each other? It will be interesting to see what comes out of the conversation.

Day 9: Conflict: The worst thing that can happen has to happen, and then the stakes have to be raised.  Try to come up with at least three ripple effects, what-if situations that is 5 layers deep.  Start with a small problem, how might your character handle it? What would happen next that raises the stakes? Repeat until there are at least five steps, making it harder and more uncomfortable for your MC.  You’ll learn more about your MC by putting her through conflict than from any character development chart.

Day 10: Research: It’s gotta be done.  You started a list of questions on day 4.  Find the answers to your key questions that must be answered before writing can commence.

Day 11: Cram day.  Hang out on the NaNoWriMo website.  Under the Inspiration tab, you’ll find NaNo prep.  A lot of good resources here.  Keep your brainstorming journal nearby.  Who knows what will pop in your mind.

Day 12: The most important day.  It is the day before life gets turned upside down.  And it is likely the day those movies you checked out from the library on day 5 are due.  Grab a loved one and watch one or two.  Then apologize to your loved one for what may occur over the next month.  Promise you will practice good hygiene and that you will try to visit this world as much as possible. Over the next month you will be living in the time and place you are creating and, though your ramblings may not always be coherent, they are writer’s code for “I love you!! Thank you for hanging in there with me through the worst draft.”

A good, long while

Patience. Dear, sweet patience..

I dated my boyfriend for a good, long while before we got married.

We were married for a good, long while before we decided it was time to have children.

I waited a good, long while before my oldest was ready to potty train.

I researched my first novel for a good, long while before I dared to write.

I worked on my first novel for a good, long while before it was worthy of submissions.

Now I’m sitting tight a good, long while to find that agent or publisher.

The editor said, “You’ll hear back from us within six months.”

Keeping watch over that ever loving inbox.

Umpteen squared rejections later.

I still have patience.

NaNoWriMo – no, no not Nanu Nanu

It’s lurking.  I can see it lingering over there.  Ready to pounce.  I’m tempted.  But I’m also scared!  Maybe I’m just crazy!!! It’s not a greeting from Mork from Ork, although it is kinda insane, it’s NaNoWriMo! (For Millenials and younger catch the nanu nanu reference here.)

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts in two and a half weeks and I might just be out of my mind enough to do it this year.

What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month! The challenge is to write a novel from beginning to finish in one month’s time.  While you could do this challenge any month (I would chose October over February!), the official NaNoWriMo is November.  Yes, I hear you saying, “There’s so much going on in November with Thanksgiving and Christmas at its heels.”  I know!  That’s why it calls for a healthy portion of insanity to do this.

So Why do this?

Writing a novel is intimidating.  Period!  When I wrote my first novel I got stuck after completing the first act with rewrite after rewrite.  The best thing that happened to me was signing up for a conference in which I had to submit the LAST twenty pages.  There’s nothing like a deadline!  I know that awful feeling of having a story to write, but petrified to start. There is also the “I don’t have the time to write” excuse.  Clear your schedule for one month.  It’s just one month.  After 30 days of writing you will have a completed novel. Publishable? Highly unlikely.  But draft one is done. And done it time to take the next month off to let the story marinate while you hang the mistletoe and deck the halls.

I may be crazy enough to give this a whirl, so how do I do this?

The goal that NaNoWriMo sets forth is to write a fifty thousand novel.  Depending on your story this may not be enough, so you may have to adjust your daily word goal.  Take your word goal and divide by 29 because let’s face it, who’s going to write while in a turkey coma?

35,000 (a middle grade novel) = 1,206 words per day (wpd)

50,000 (NaNoWriMo goal) = 1,724 wpd

75,000 (YA novel) = 2,586 wpd

160,000 (the next Harry Potter – average length) = 5,517 wpd (yikes!)

Besides word count, what else should you keep in mind?

  • Spend these next two weeks planning.  Research settings, history, foods.  Get to know your characters.  Especially your MC and antagonist.  Consider story lines. Are you the outlining type? Do that now.
  • Also over these next two weeks, surround yourself with things of the genre you want to write.  Does that mean wearing 18th century garb?  Hey, if it helps you get into the mind of your story about Ben Franklin (yes, I mean you!) then I say go for it.  It’s October after all.  Halloween is not that far away, you can get away with it!
  • Once November starts, write fast and furiously.  Somedays those 1,724 words will fly out of your fingers.  Other days you will bang your head against the keyboard and hope something miraculous occurs.
  • Acknowledge that it may be crap.  In fact, it probably will.  You won’t really know your story, what your characters are made of, until you start writing it and putting them in impossible situations.
  • DO NOT REWRITE!  In fact, avoid rereading!  Just read the paragraph or sentence you left off with.
  • Tune into this blog.  I’m going to be in the trenches with you.

Who’s in?

Are you a NaNoWriMo veteran?  Leave a tip in the comment box.

For more tips, check out these pages:

Brown Girl Dreaming Review

Brown Girl Dreaming is the autobiographical memoir of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood.  It has racked up an astounding four awards!!! National Book Award, Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor Book, and Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award.  Not too shabby! This review, unfortunately, does put a few smudges on all those beautiful accolades.

brown-girl-dreaming

Written in verse, we travel with Jackie from her early childhood in Columbus, Ohio, to live with her grandparents in the Nicholtown neighborhood in Greenville, South Carolina, to her final home in Brooklyn, New York.  Young Jacqueline is keenly aware that she is unlike others in her family and searches for the thing that fits her just right.

What children will like about it:

This is a story that young girls will be drawn to.  They will identify with Jackie as she struggles with knowing her place in her family and overcoming the challenges she faced with reading.  Though the book is thick, there is a lot of white space on the pages making it friendly to reluctant readers. Jackie also faces very difficult events in her life that children will either relate to from their own histories, or draw closer to Jackie as they sympathize with her. The historical backdrop is a character in itself.  While set against intense civil right battles, the personal perspective was a safe distance from some of the pivotal events, but the reader sits on edge knowing that something could happen.  The young reader will feel anger, sadness, satisfaction, worry, pride, and strength while turning these pages.

Through a writer’s eyes

The language was a cozy blanket on a rainy day.  Vivid word pictures, deep emotion, tight and succinct, only wordy on purpose and on occasion.  The house in Nicholtown felt like home to me and I melted into Grandma Georgiana’s kitchen. Daddy’s song as he sauntered home and his breath being squeezed away by emphysema, or the like, made him the most concrete character to me.  It made me want to be a child sitting on the porch with him, listening to him sing.

The story is subtle.  Jackie’s journey as she finds her way through her struggle as a reader to grow into a writer is very relatable.  However, the story took a back seat to the poetry.  Keeping in mind this is a memoir, the plot was not thick with turns and twists, but it was deeply personal.  The voice sounds like an adult remembering her youth, which is what it is, but it would be stronger if it sounded like a young girl.  This is tricky when writing in verse.  Poetry is inherently more mature, to turn the voice youthful is challenging.

Nonetheless, I was mesmerized by this story and glad it was one that was written.  I will leave you with one of my favorite parts of the book, it comes from the poem “The Ghosts of the Nelsonville House.”

Look closely. There I am

in the furrow of Jack’s brow,

in the slyness of Alicia’s smile,

in the bend of Grace’s hand . . .

There I am . . .

Beginning

Visit Ms. Woodson here to learn more about her.