Life in a Hospice takes you behind the scenes in end-of-life care, where you will see the enormous efforts of nurses, doctors, chaplains and others – even a thoughtful cook – to provide the calm that we all hope for. Perhaps you are looking for end-of-life care for someone you love. Perhaps you are wondering if this is the job for you. Or you just feel like being inspired by humanity at its best. This book will be for you.
Life in a Hospice: reflections on caring for the dying by Ann Richardson
After the death of a good friend, I worked for four years as a hospice volunteer. I was extremely impressed with the dedication of the staff, but also rather fascinated by what motivated them to go to work day after day to see people die. I had already written one book based on interviews and felt this would be another suitable subject.
2. How long did it take you to write your book?
My writing is different from that of most authors as it is based on interviews. Each interview takes somewhat under two hours and it is best not to do more than one a day. There were 31 interviews done over the course of two or three months. These are then transcribed verbatim (word-for-word), which takes about half a day each. Once I have the transcript, I read it over with enormous care, marking up the different themes and issues arising. I can do only 2-3 a day. So there is a lot of preparation time. These preparatory processes usually overlap, which helps.
Once I have the transcript material in order, however, it takes me only a few months to complete a book draft and a little longer for editing.
All in all, the process takes somewhere between six months and a year.
3. What is one thing you would love someone to take away after reading your book?
A sense of awe at the caring qualities of the people I interviewed. You see humanity at its very best (not the people dying, who we don’t learn much about, but the people caring for them)
4. Describe your book in three words.
Hospice, dedication, care
5. Who will enjoy your book the most?
People who like to reflect on deeper issues in life. It is not at all morbid – indeed, it is funny in places – but it is not traditional entertainment. I suspect there is a big overlap with people who seek out literary fiction.
6. What do you think is most important to being a powerful writer?
Skill with words is always important (and hard to pin down what it means), but so is a sense of the complexity of human beings – their motivations, their funny little foibles and their joys. I would place honesty above all, as readers recognize an honest book when they see it
7. When you write, who do you envision you’re writing to?
This varies book by book. In this case, I imagined readers would be people like me who would find it fascinating to understand the joys and challenges of end-of-life care. Regrettably, there are not so many people in this category as I hoped! Several subgroups are also likely to be interested in this book –
- i) people who already provide end-of-life care, such as nurses and others, and want to read about how others cope with it;
- ii) people who are thinking about going into end-of-life care, such as student nurses and others, and want to understand what it entails;
iii) people who are looking into end-of-life care for a family member or friend and want to know what hospices are like.
I also recommend it to anyone who just wants to see humanity acting at its very best.
8. Does writing energise or exhaust you, or a bit of both?
Writing completely energises me and it is difficult for me to stop. Sometimes I will wake up in the night and go to work on a book. Of course, in the end, it is tiring, but I am always happy when I am working on a book.
9. What did you enjoy most – and least – about the process of creating your book?
I enjoy almost everything in the process of creating my books, but there can come a time in editing a book when I feel I have had enough.
10. Did you often suffer from writer’s block whilst writing? Any tips to overcome it?
I have never suffered from writer’s block, aside from the odd morning after a bad night’s sleep when the sentences don’t flow as well as usual.
Ann Richardson’s book is available on Amazon at: Life in a Hospice
Ann’s website link: Ann’s website
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