Episode 110: Writing into Health Trauma with Christine McNair and Elee Kraljii Gardiner

I speak with Christine and Elee about our writing on our personal health traumas and the intersection of art and health. We also read from our works: Elee – Trauma Head; Christine – Toxemia and me – Beast Body Epic.

Amanda: AngelHousePress.com; AmandaEarl.com

Elee: https://eleekg.com/

Preeclampsia Foundation Canada: https://www.preeclampsiacanada.ca/

Virtual launch of Beast Body Epic with Amanda Earl, Christine McNair and Sandra Ridley, Sunday, November 12, 2023 2pm EST; Register via Eventbrite: tinyurl.com/beastbodyepicnov1223

Thank you to David Naimon for the suggestion for the episode title.

I open with a quote from Katy Wimhurst’s brilliant essay, Speaking from the Shadows: Writing Fiction and Chronic Illness https://lucywritersplatform.com/2022/03/14/speaking-from-the-shadows-writing-fiction-and-chronic-illness/

Against Death: 35 Essays On Living : Books – Anvil Press https://www.anvilpress.com/books/against-death

Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill https://thenewcriterion1926.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/woolf-on-being-ill.pdf

Each of us elaborates about the health crises that we experienced and how that resulted in our writing about the experience, what form the writing took.

We each read excerpts from our work.

We talk about keeping symptoms diaries and trying to keep our language precise in our narratives to discuss with medical staff. I talk about Elee’s Trauma Head file influenced the form of Beast Body Epic.

We discuss the effects of reading the work aloud. Elee discusses the role of author vs writer. Christine discusses the difference between this nonfiction work and her poetry books. We talk about the need for witnessing or testimony with our work, replicating the way we felt in our chosen forms.

Elee asks ” I’d love to know where you two land on the idea of art that takes care of the maker. The trope of suffering for art, giving it all to the art, sacrificing for art is pervasive and to my mind destructive. Is there a way you have come to understand a process or concept of art that can give rather than take from your health?”

We discuss the romantic idea of starving or dying for one’s art. We talk about the need for self-care and dealing with the self-destructive nature of writing about these crises.

Christine asks if we’ve been censured around being confessional. I mention a recent Between the Covers episode with Kate Briggs on her book, the Long Form. https://tinhouse.com/podcasts/

I talk about people talking to me privately about their issues with health/sex etc.

Christine tells us the word “fascinoma,” something a doctor called her.

Thanks to Elee and Christine for being on the show, to Charles Earl for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for help with the intro and outro and to all of you for listening and sharing the episode. Our next guest will be Manitoba writer and mudlarker, Ariel Gordon. And also please join the virtual launch of Beast Body Epic, which will take place on Sunday, November 12, 2023 2pm Eastern Time with me, Christine and Sandra Ridley. You have to register in advance via eventbrite: tinyurl.com/beastbodyepicnov1223