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Creative Thought and Chronic Pain: Ploughshares

Eight years ago I watched Hilary Mantel give an interview about her endometriosis, an illness she suffered with for years while it was misdiagnosed and treated with antipsychotic drugs. In this interview she described the realization that she would never pursue a career inflexible to the rhythms of her pain, and the realization was one I recognized: the debilitating ache, the endless need for sleep, the pain that sometimes felt all-pervasive and at others pincer-sharp. Equipped with Mantel’s symptoms, I went to the doctor and set about getting myself diagnosed (which happened officially six months later). Since then, I’ve continually wondered what it means that Mantel’s endometriosis was so entwined with her becoming a writer, and how coming to writing from this particular place might impact on the texture of one’s prose, one’s very style.

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Sue Rainsford