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Exercising privilege: Blogs, Tweets and Podcasts

Today marks the three-months-to-the-day date since I went “under the knife” to remove a tumour from the upper lobe of my left lung on November 30th last year. Hallelujah! Three months down and I’m feeling better—stronger, healthier and more optimistic—every day.


I’ve said before that I thought I’d heard “them” say that it would take me six weeks to get back to normal after the surgery… I was wrong, of course. What “they” had meant was that it would take six weeks for my body to recover from the outrages and trauma inflicted upon it by being opened up and gutted like a fish, ribs split apart and wedged open (to the discomfort and discomfiture of cartilege and connective tissue) for however long it took to do whatever the surgeons did to me. Not that I’m complaining. Not so at all, so please don’t even think that. I’m abjectly grateful that they were as dextrous, caring, well-trained and phenomenally competent as they were and I will be grateful for the rest of my life to the presiding surgeon, Dr. Micheal Humer, who brought me back from post-operative pneumonia and what I know to have been the brink of the Abyss. No, the point I was going to make was only that it HURT--a lot! But those initial six weeks are now long gone—remembered with faint stirrings of lingering disbelief, but gone—and a second six-week stint has followed them, during which I have made great, at times unbelievable, steps towards being healed. For one thing, I’m working out regularly now at the gym where I live. I’m going there five days out of every seven and I’m loving it.


I can imagine some of you wincing and saying, “Whoa! Five days a week? That’s too much.” But no, it’s not. I started, very gingerly and cautiously, in the last two weeks of my first 6-week recuperation period—doing very little other than starting to move again, though I kept at it steadily, walking a little more every day. And then I graduated to weight training, using the circuit training facilities at our very well equipped gym. Again, I started slowly and used great caution. Now I’ve been exercising for seven, almost eight, weeks and I’ve diversified because my weight-training workouts had stretched to more than an hour a day, every second day. I decided to alternate upper body and lower body on separate days, with a day off between each pair, and to keep Saturdays and Sundays in the sequence, so now I’m in the gym for about 40-45 minutes a day, five days a week, and I love the two days off in between blocks… And I walk in the mornings, on a treadmill at home. Thing is, though, that most of the people using the gym are trying to lose weight, wearing themselves out on treadmills and elliptical training machines. I’m trying to put it on, after losing more weight than I could ever afford to lose… So I’m not interested in running myself into the ground. My interest is purely in getting into shape again, and building a bit of muscle instead of a girdle of fat.


So now that I’ve started feeling good again, I’ve been able to get back to work, and I’m going to attach a couple of links here to things I’ve done in the last few weeks. The first of them is a written Q&A interview I did for fellow novelist and colleague Lorna Suzuki, on her weekly blog. She contacted me soon after I had been released from hospital, so it took me a while to respond to her approach, but when I did she sent me the questions she wanted me to answer, and since it was the first time I had really tried to apply myself to something analytical since my operation, I may have spent more time on it that I normally would. It came out as long and detailed, but Lorna liked it and decided to issue it in two parts. The first of those appeared last Sunday, February 24th, and the second part will be featured this Sunday, March 3rd. You'll find the Blog here:


The other piece is a Podcast, an audio interview with a young author called Andrew Buckley who has a new, or relatively new Literary Podcast called “Write Out Loud”. Andrew lives near me and approached me recently about doing a piece on his show, offering to travel to my home to conduct the interview in person, rather than doing it on Skype with all the potential difficulties entailed in off-site recording. I had a moment of doubt when he told me that I would be his seventh interviewee, but it vanished instantly when he informed me that my predecessor on the show—his sixth guest—had been Jane Johnson of HarperCollins UK. I know Jane Johnson to be one of the best known publishing executives and most highly respected editors in the United Kingdom, and the fact that he had managed to “land” her as a guest on his new show really impressed me—it will impress you, too, if you listen to what they generated. Anyway, the interview I did with Andrew runs just short of an hour, and I’ll leave it to each of you to judge for yourself whether I had anything worthwhile to say or not. You’ll find it at:


Strangely enough, the biggest difficulty I've had recently, in terms of getting back into the swing of things, is an utter inability to get back into the discipline of composing (and posting) 144-character messages on Twitter... Go figure. I simply can't seem to come up with anything appropriate to say there. Shyness? Maybe it is. I simply don't know, but I've been literally tongue-tied in there for ages. I'm going to have to remedy that soon.


lolvickib's picture

I'm looking forward to reading the blog interview and hearing what you have to say in the second interview.  It is great that you are building up your strength and stamina slowly, you'll be ready to hit the greens this summer. 
I'm thrilled to bits that you are feeling better and look forward to visiting here for more from you've noticed, it is deathly quiet without you!
Warm healing hugs

Splynter's picture

Hi Jack!
I'm glad to hear you are doing well and getting stronger! I'll "try" to check out the blog etc. but me being me.....technologically handicapped......I'll do my best and probably fail without an assistant near at hand! Heck! I don't even own a cell phone because they are way to complex for me. Oh, how I miss rotary dials! Nice and easy! Besides, why does a "phone" have to be a camera? A web browser? A game platform etc. etc? Can't a phone just stand tall, proud and content with being a phone and nothing more? Sorry...I'm rambling. LOL
Take care and all my best!

It does me good to see you posting back on here. It makes me glad. I'm also delighted to see you're becoming a dedicated gym rat. Next time I see you we can compare notes and have a pose down.
I hope you continue to improve,

lolvickib's picture

I don't do weights, but everything to do with equines seems to weigh 50 lbs!  Bales of hay, bags of feed, boxes of tack...then there is the shoveling of...well, what goes in does come out.  So if I continue on my rowing machine can I roll up my sleeves and show off my biceps too?

jack's picture

Y' ain't never gonna see none o' them things on me, Vick... God didn't design me as an Arnie Schwartzenneger type . . . and he certainly didn't intend for me to wait for as many decades as I have, then try to blossom into a beefsteak blimp. No, I may not even be visibly, detectably different from what I was before, but I sure feel better, fitter and stronger than I've felt in years... Perhaps even in decades. <g>

lolvickib's picture

I personally hate the beef cake look, but being healthy and being strong enough to do what you what to do, when you want to do it, well, I am all for that!  It is simply marvelous to hear that you are feeling for age, pfffft, sometimes I feel like I'm twelve and other times, one hundred and twelve.  When I walk by a mirrored surface I wonder who is that white haired person wearing the same thing that I am wearing.
I've taken to wearing a pedometer, and it is amazing how many kilometers I can cover in a day...unless of course there is a new release from a favourite author, then it is wake up call to get up and get moving.
Continued wellness vibes headed your way!

Jeanine Lipp's picture

Dear Jack,
School's out for summer and as a teacher, I finally have time to catch up on the blogs and websites I've neglected during the Spring. I am so relieved to hear that you have regained your health and feel ready to grace social media with your wit and wisdom. It was a pleasure meeting you at the Surrey Int. Writer's Convention and listening to your rollicking jokes and stories. Rose Holck and I will be attending again this year. I"ll make sure she packs "the little black dress". Cheers.

redjanfan's picture

What a treat to hear your voice and hear you speaking about your writing. Back in Grade 9 Drama class, even I knew you were a storyteller extraordinaire! It was with intense joy that I devoured "The Skystone" and subsequent series. I am now in the Knights Templar series and enjoying it with equal enthusiasm. I have purchased the Guardian Series and it teases me from the bookshelf. My daughter has also enjoyed reading your stories and so another generation appreciates your talent and hard work. I also enjoyed your biography and learning about your post teaching life. Thanks for the memories, congratulations on your well earned successes.
Jan (Schulte) Perry


I'm glad to hear that you are recovering quickly.  Rest is a great healer adn I hope you are continuing in that light until your recuperation is complete.  
I have read and greatly enjoyed your Arthurian legend series and the Teplar series.  I am about to embark on the Guardians.
However, I was wondering have you ever thrown around the idea of writing about Robin Hood?  It seems to be that it would be a great fit for you.  You have been all round the era of his legend; you have already explored the character of King Richard and your writing about this legend (as you did with Merlin and Arthur) would provide the reader with a greater feeling of authenticity to the legend.  Any thoughts?

Patrick Parker

Jack in the News!
  • The Globe and Mail 1/2/2105
    Author Jack Whyte on why he wrote his new book, the best advice he’s received and more
  • Edmonton Journal 12/5/2014
    Book review: Engrossing Jack Whyte trilogy culminates in battle
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