- Shirley Abbott, quoted in Mickey Pearlman, Listen to Their Voices (1993), ch. 12
The piece that was accepted showed the pain. It was my experience of the death of my mother. I have long understood that the experience has helped me in relating to patients when I have had to deliver bad news. My mother and the stories she told have been a major inspiration to my decision to write, even though I lost her just over thirty years ago this week. Perhaps that anniversary was also important at the subconscious level in my sense of feeling the pain.
I also realized with the help of my instructor and other students in the workshop how my novel is autobiographical in an emotional way, and how when I can feel in some way what I have my characters feeling that my writing is better. So, I need to "write the pain" in order to feel genuine.
My pain and loss is very different than that of the characters I am writing about, but my experience of my mother's death helps me to understand both the pain of my characters and the pain of my patients and their families.