Writing Through Pain

photo of two women in a hospital corridor with balloons

Even in the hospital, there are balloons. There are flowers right now, and in the evenings, the tree frogs sing to welcome their new overlord, Spring.

This is a hard post to write, because I tend to keep my private life offline. Your attitude shapes your reality, and so I don’t dwell on the bad stuff. And going on and on about your problems is something readers/followers can get tired of when it’s going on day after day.

But sometimes bad stuff happens. Sometimes you’re dealing with a loved one’s illness, or your own, or a natural disaster, or something else, because the world is one filled with tragedies, large and small.

Earlier this year a relative was diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t the first time – she’d had a bout five years ago – but this time there were a lot of words that were ominous, including chemotherapy.

And so, last month, this month, the next few months I’m working at getting my first novel launched and worrying desperately about its reception and writing the second one, and at the same time, trying to give her the support she needs. I take my laptop to the hospital, where they have excellent wireless, and I keep picking away at things.

I have always have a healthy sense (some might say too healthy) of humor and a disinclination towards taking myself seriously. Both have stood me in good stead here, but I can tell I’m stressed, nonetheless. I find myself, more than anything, filled with surges of anger at time. At the world, at cancer, even at my poor relative. I find myself sometimes lost, sometimes doing things unlike myself, or even irrational or forgetful, a thing that scares me, because my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, and that’s always been one of my secret fears. Other times I find myself sad and lonely and so full of self-pity it oozes out of my ears in a most unbecoming way.

There’s other stuff going on, and I don’t want to talk about it because it’s matters that are private for other people. But I can tell you this, from the heart of anger and sorrow and a life that is currently chaotic, it is still – for me – possible to write and what’s more, to take parts of what’s going on and make it into stories. And it helps. It helps you make sense of it. It helps you achieve distance.

We go to stories to find out what to do. How to be human. What we can expect and what’s expected of us in turn. If you have something to say about that, then write a story about it. That’s worth a thousand angry or preachy blog posts, in my opinion. If you don’t like the art someone is creating, don’t worry about theirs but go and make your own.

Go sing your song, and if you do, the universe will sing through you. And that, my loves, is the best sustenance for the battered and beleaguered soul that I know of.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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