In 2012, I wrote a blog post titled, “Stories of illness and the capacity to empower, inspire and heal”. In it, I discussed the three main types of illness stories: the restitution narrative, which focuses on the return to health; the chaos narrative, which can’t imagine the return to health; and the quest narrative, whose narrator seeks to help others by sharing of his or her own experience.
In this article, I want to discuss ways to develop a style and voice you can use for your own writings.
Developing a “Voice” for Your Illness
In his book Intoxicated By My Illness, author Anatole Broyard writes: “I would advise every sick person to evolve a style or develop a voice for his or her illness. In my own case I make fun of my illness. I disparage it. This wasn’t a deliberate decision; the response simply came to me. Adopting a style for your illness is another way of meeting it on your own grounds, of making it a mere character in your narrative.”
Responding with a Style All Your Own
When my own sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in her early 20s, she danced. She had always danced, but then she danced to prove that her body was still hers, that she could still command it to dive and dip and twirl. She danced to prove to her body that it was still capable and beautiful.
Throughout chemotherapy and radiation, this was the style with which she greeted her illness. This was the way in which she made cancer a character in her narrative.
Have you given any thought to taking a unique approach to respond to your situation? Painting, singing, mastering your favorite computer game? Or adopting a style and voice all your own for your journal, blog, or other messaging?
In what ways have you or loved ones developed a style or a voice for illness or other health condition in order to meet it “on your own grounds”? We’d love to read your thoughts and comments – please share them here.
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