Some writers favour cafes, some pubs. Perhaps I’m on on the weirder side of the spectrum, becasue I like to go to hospitals. I can’t write narratives as it’s too noisy for that, but I can write plot notes, character ideas, scene settings.
I grew up around hospitals. One of my fondest memories is watching my mother cut up and examine specimens whilst I wrote stories, or made paper angels that I would force upon unsuspecting secretaries until their desks looked fancier than Christmas.
And I am delighted to say that, as book two is largely set in and around a hospital, I will have to go on many field trips to soak up the atmosphere and the smell. But beyond childhood nostalgia and sniffing linoleum floors, there is another reason I love hospitals, and that is the stories.
I was witness to something I’ve never forgotten and still, to this day, brings tears to my normally cold, heartless eyes (I’m kidding. I’m a massive crier in real life.)
I was milling around the hospital with my son when I noticed a lady, 60ish with cropped, fluffy hair, wearing slacks and a plain blue shirt. She was walking away from the oncology department. In the opposite direction was a nurse dressed in greys and greens.
The nurse stopped, raised her eyebrows, slightly parted her lips.
With a smile on her face and tears fresh on her cheeks, the lady looked at the nurse dead on, rose both arms in the air and shook her fists. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy. The nurse ran towards her and held her in the corridor. They didn’t say anything, (not that I heard) but you could tell from their body language they were close, that they had been through something together, that the woman was going to be OK.
My son and I wandered off, though he kept looking over his little shoulder at the women, still hugging, behind him. He asked me who they were and I gave the two women a story and a happy ending.
Hospitals are so frequently associated with death, pain, loss that you forget they are also a place of cure, of triumph over disease, a place where people get their lives back. And a place where, if you look closely, you can see stories not ending, but unfolding.