Monday, 7 December 2009

On Writing #3: A Tense Situation

As part of my first MA project I wrote an article for a magazine. The article was about my mother’s long term illness. Writing it was harder than I expected. Condensing 12 years worth of events into roughly 1200 words was a challenge in itself, but the hardest moment was when I handed it to my mother to read.

Before I began to write the article I talked to my mother about it, partly to refresh my memory, mainly to have her consent to continue. Once I had her consent and enough of a refresh to write about her illness it dawned on me that squeezing everything I wanted to write about into 1200 words (about 3 pages) was quite a chore. My main concern was that the condensation would trivialise my mother’s illness and fail to fully capture its nature.

After editing my first draft down to the bone, I took the second draft of the article to my mother and sat next to her while she read it. As she read I realised how tense I was; my right hand was firmly grabbing my left wrist. Even my mother's odd chuckle did'nt relieve the tenseness I felt. It was weird. My previous scribblings have been read by family, friends, tutors, judges, examiners and strangers, and I'd never felt this tense before.

Could it be because the article is the most personally important piece of writing I've ever done?

Fortunately when she finished reading it her verdict was a double thumbs up. It turned out to be theraputic for both of us.

Now the article may be published in February, I hope all those that read it who have the same or similar illness to my mother, will equally enjoy it.

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