Where I Write: around illness

Orla Broderick writing tips
Category: Writing

I write in the spaces the disease hasn’t taken.

I write in the spaces the disease hasn’t taken. Maybe in the still kitchen before they awake. I place my blank pages between Chemo Cookery Club and other such titles. Before the child opens eyes and begins the dance of the new day, before my love wakes and remembers her surgery awaits. Maybe in the study, with a notebook, and the stack of pamphlets. It’s hard not to read, not to see the advice leaflets, the glossy brochures from Macmillan, from the colon cancer society. I stare at my page and I try to ignore colostomy bags and trainer pack. We have a library of cancer care literature. Every other day some well-meaning someone brings another survival book.

Maybe I’ll sit on the bench on the lawn. Maybe I’ll dream and scribble and listen to my hens. Their soft bok-bok-bok echoes the hard k-k-k of the canker that has spread through our home. It’s hard to ignore.

I write the silly things that make no sense, the little fictions from Catholic Ireland. I write and re-write the last conversation with my mother, the day she told me the cancer would make us stronger. I write one word in a book I keep in my pocket when I walk the dog. I write on the hill on a rock watching the loch.

I listen to the sounds between the sounds. To the non-noise. It is there, I know the music of birds and trees and beasts and it is there I know myself, my strength, my love. 

I tell her she is strong. I tell her I love her. I tell her I will kiss her even if she is bald and broken. They can come with poisons and scalpels and such and I will dance the silly dances and she will be well loved.

And I will write it all down and we will remember.

Orla Broderick

Orla Broderick's first novel, The January Flower, launched in December 2012, in the living room of her home, with mulled wine and chocolate truffles she made herself. Orla has given readings and spoken at workshops. The January Flower was longlisted for the Polari First Book Prize.

Originally from Wicklow Town in Ireland, she now lives on the Isle of Skye with her daughter and dog. Orla received a New Writers Award in 2014.