I continue to receive stories from many who are stating to the best of their ability their unvarnished truths. What many seem to be saying is clear: “Listen to me. Hear my story. Something is happening to me. I can’t make sense out of it or, the only story I can think of to explain it scares me. Can you help me tell a better story or one that will cause me less stress.”
As a result of these unanswered questions and with encouragement and support from, Booth Chilcutt, the director of the Sumter County Cultural Commission in Sumter, South Carolina, I decided to add to the annual South Carolina Humanities Festival’s functions a call for stories and poetry on illness. For sure, I can add testimony that reconfirms that writing or blogging helps gain a sense of personal control and enables a patient, like myself to take responsibility for my life. A key component of any recovery is to be surrounded on a daily basis with friendship and love. Out of this experience, an individual can jointly shape a new narrative.
In a few weeks I will be sharing with my university students in an English 285 course, Themes in Medicine & Literature, the writings of physician-writers like Anton Chekhov, John Keats, William Carlos Williams, Walt Whitman and others who understand this intersection of illness and narrative. After all, all the elements of a story are readily available to any doctor or nurse: plot, protagonist, antagonist, setting, dialogue, and theme.
Recently, David Lauderdale, a friend and veteran reporter for The Island Packet in Hilton Head, South Carolina, wrote about the plans for this scheduled illness writing event. For more about this click here.
Send me your stories.