- which expresses a moment or fragment of experience of persistent pain;
- which takes either the perspective of a person experiencing the pain or the perspective of a witness (carer or healthcare professional);
- which captures any dimension of experience – physical, emotional, social, economic, institutional, medical, spiritual, or creative;
- which communicates in any emotional register, positive or negative;
- and which can be shared and used by others to try and communicate the vivid, contradictory, and diverse realities of living with chronic pain.
- short-form creative writing, from 5 to 150 words,
- in any form (e.g. prose or poetry; autobiography, fiction, or a blend);
- optionally can be accompanied by a single image (photograph or artwork); can also take the form of a single comic ‘panel’ or short sequence, to fit on a single screen;
- the fragments/moments/glimpses to be shared online with attribution, under Creative Commons Licensing (BY-NC) 4.0.
- authors can choose to be anonymous, pseudonymous or named.
Deadline: I will be adding submissions to the project throughout 2018, but the earlier the submission the more likely it is to receive wider exposure, so early submission is encouraged.
SINCE people living with persistent pain often suffer invisibility and struggle for legitimacy and credibility;
since long-term pain is often wrongly assumed to be a temporary and unnatural state;
since pain experience is diverse and must be understood intersectionally (through interweaved categories such as gender, race, sexuality, and class);
since pain’s causes can be cryptic, multiple, personal, social, environmental, transgenerational, and hidden;
since pain science is neither widely understood or well-funded, and requires wider dissemination;
since pain experience exceeds the language of medicalisation;
since pain undercuts illusions of human autonomy and self-sufficiency, showing that all people are vulnerable and interdependent;
since pain may impair the ability to work, in which case those living with it may be wrongly seen as not living a ‘useful’ life;
since witnessing pain makes profound claims on – and poses challenges for – carers, family members, and healthcare practitioners;
and since chronic pain affects every dimension of life …
… I call for creative work which engages these invisibilities, these lacunae, these intersections – moments in public or in shadows, in loneliness or connection.
YET – pain experience may not lend itself to established forms of either illness narration or survivorship story:
the experience may lack an ending, where resolution is reached;
it may lack a beginning, its causes hidden;
it may break the positivity imperative – to be hopeful, a warrior, a survivor, a meaning-finder;
it may be incommunicable, resisting representation, yet may simultaneously engender language;
it may be a story not (only) of a personal journey, but also of wider social calamities and inequalities, both contemporary and transgenerational;
it may resist plot, instead being a thing of fragments, glimpses, and moments.
SO I call for ‘FLASH’ ILLNESS WRITING – short-form creative work
– which expresses a moment or fragment of experience of persistent pain;
– which takes either the perspective of a person experiencing the pain or the perspective of a witness (carer or healthcare professional);
– which captures any dimension of experience – physical, emotional, social, economic, institutional, medical, spiritual, or creative;
– which communicates in any emotional register, positive or negative;
– and which can be shared and used by others to try and communicate the vivid, contradictory, and diverse realities of living with chronic pain.
The brevity of the works produced by our network and their public availability will also make the resource immediately usable by a range of groups: pain charities can use the material in outreach and patient support, medical educators can use the material to enhance student engagement alongside clinical work, people working in healthcare policy can draw on the resource to give rich, humanising detail, and carers and members of the public can draw on the resource to help in understanding the experience of people living with chronic pain.
Sara Wasson, Translating Chronic Pain: Creative Manifesto (2017), http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/translating-pain