A friend of mine, Darlene, once told me that breast cancer saved her life, meaning that she now lives life to the fullest. I feel the same way about the bloody brain.
A couple of weeks ago, I was telling Darlene about some people's reactions to my stories. In order to illustrate my bewilderment at some of the responses, I drew an analogy from her life. “What if someone heard that you’d had breast cancer and responded with ‘Aaaw, you poor thing.’?”
Darlene's initial reaction was to frown quizzically. "But why would anyone say—" She then shook her head and shrugged.
Reactions that involve expressions of sympathy continue to surprise me.
I would like to believe that my writing is sufficiently powerful to elicit strong emotions in my readers. But when I sit at my computer, a story unfolding onto the screen, I am not wallowing; I am not writing with the specific purpose of evoking sympathy.
First and foremost, I write for the love of it, because I am a storyteller.
But I also use my writing as a tool to explore what happened to me. As I verbalize my emotions and thoughts, I am discovering my self, I am learning who I am now, the person I have become in the aftermath of the brain injury.
My piece entitled “Disability” is a story of revelation, of an “Aha!” moment, of acceptance. When I write about sensory overload, I am trying to understand it, in the hopes that it will help me learn to live with it. When I write about dragon boating, triking, and storytelling, I am celebrating the ways in which the bloody brain has enriched my life. “Stubbornness” is about my triumphs, and "No Drool Zone" is about love. I write about survival—the hardships, the victories, the laughter, the grief. I write about living, about life, my life.
No, my goal in writing is not to gain sympathy; though I'm always up for a hug.