While I should be writing

The flu

I haven’t got it, thank God and touch wood etc. etc. But I thought I’d use it to illustrate the difference between a brilliant author (in this case: Richard Russo) and a mediocre one (that is, me). For me, the main difference is in the details.

If I had included a character thinking about the flu, it might have gone something like that:

I feel strangely dull and listless. Trying as I might, I can’t get my body to do anything with any kind of speed. I continue with all the different tasks that make up life, but slowly, apathetically, like nothing really mattered. The flu, I think. That would explain it.

If Richard Russo has a character who thinks she might have the flu:

Flu, she thought, dern it. Miss Beryl hadn’t had the flu in a long time, almost a decade, and so her recollection of how you were supposed to feel was vague. What she did feel, in addition to the wooziness, was an odd sensation of distance from her extremities, her feet and fingers miles away, as if they belonged to someone else, and to account for this, the word ‘flu’ had entered her consciousness whole, like a loaf of something fresh from the owen, warm and full of leavening explanation.
Flu. It explained  her offishness of the past few days, even, perhaps, her persistent feeling of guilt about Sully. Miss Beryl was of the opinion that guilt grew like a culture in the atmosphere of illness and that an attack of guilt often augured the approach of a virys. (…)
Since her retirement from teaching Miss Beryl’s health had in many respects greatly improved, despite her advanced years. An eight-grade classroom was an excellent place to snag whatever was in the air in the way of illnes. Also depression, which, Miss Beryl believed, in conjunction with guilt, opened the door to illness. Miss Beryl didn’t know any teachers who weren’t habitually guilty and depressed – guilty they hadn’t accomplished more with their student, depressed that very little more was possible. (…)
The source of her wooziness established [Miss Beryl tror att hon har smittats av sin blivande svärdotter], Miss Beryl decided that the best way to proceed was to treat the virus the way you’d treat the person it came from. That is, ignore it the best she could and hope it’d go away.

I rest my case.