• Another 100 Days of Good Karma: Day 218 (Cancer is Cliché)



    Saturday, February 14, 2015

    Run/ Walk/ Bike/ Elliptical (Today:  0.00 miles;  Running Total: 174.00 miles)

    Day 218 of *Another* 100 Days of Good Karma.

    In working on my fiction writing skills I’ve learned to avoid clichés as much as possible. Plot lines that involve helpless maidens being rescued by princes on white horses. Descriptions like ‘as black as night’ or ‘as deep as the ocean’.

    Since being diagnosed with cancer I’ve noticed an annoying trend in books and movies, so please indulge a quick rant.

    *pulls soap box out, steps aboard*

    It seems like whenever a tragic death or disease is needed for a storyline writers fall back on cancer.

    • In an Adam Sandler movie the main character is a single father whose wife died of cancer.
    • In Stephen King’s latest book, Revival, a character is magically cured of leukemia.
    • In an episode of Downton Abbey, one of the female characters finds a lump in her breast and fears she has cancer.

    I could keep going. Look at the movie Patch Adams. The movie The Theory of Everything. The book The Fault in Our Stars.

    It seems like whenever a writer needs a tragedy that is a) plausible and b) rips your heart out, cancer is the go-to disease.

    As a cancer patient, I can’t even begin to explain how tiresome this is.  I mean, it’s every-fucking-where I look.

    Sometimes when I find cancer in a book or movie I just roll my eyes. More often my stomach clenches and I look for a quiet corner where I can wrap my hands around my knees and rock gently until the urge to cry goes away.

    Both reactions make me hate the story.

    To the writers of the world: Yes, cancer is horrible and tragic and really, really fucking scary so I know it sounds like a great conflict.

    But look around you. Cancer isn’t original.

    Dig a little deeper.

    (Rant over.)

    *steps down, slides soap box away*

    I might will make a lot of mistakes while learning to write fiction.

    Today’s silver lining: Now that I see the cancer cliché I won’t use it in my own writing.

    What’s your silver lining today?  I love comments!

    Don’t want to leave a comment, but have something you want to share?  Send me an email at gettingthewordswrong(at)gmail(dot)com.


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8 Responsesso far.

  1. Linda says:

    Not arguing, but saying sometimes it may be just where one is at. I currently work in a senior living situation, and it seems Alzheimer’s surrounds me. “Still Alice” – Alzheimer’s; “Away From Her” – Alzheimer’s; “The Notebook” – Alzheimer’s; “Iris” – Alzheimer’s. In the past I worked at a mental health facility, Remember “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Benny & Joon”. . . ..(Ha – from that list you can probably guess WHEN I worked there).

    I will add that I REALLY enjoy discovering movies and books with plots that are NOT cliche and NOT predictable!

    And blogs — your blog is about the most unpredictable (in a good way) that I have found! 🙂

    • Meghan says:

      Hi, Linda, and thank you for reading! I never thought about movies with Alzheimer’s or mental health disorders. Of course you’re right… I have to consider the possibility that I have Blue-car Syndrome (when you never notice blue cars until you own one). I also have to take into account that at least two of the movies I mentioned are based on true stories, so the cancer-tragedies in those movies might well be true instead of just a convenient plot device. And I definitely agree that I enjoy discovering unpredictable movies/books. I’m so glad my blog could do that for you! ~Meghan

  2. Mom says:

    We are on our Soap Box today now aren’t we. Give em hell Harry!!!!!!!!! Life is scary no doubt about it!
    Love you, Mom

  3. Linda says:

    I thought of you and this post last night while watching Downton Abbey. I don’t know if you’re a fan, but the current issue is that the dog’s name (Isis) carries such a negative association that the writers decided to eliminate her. There are so many cliche ways they could do that — killed in a hunting accident, run over by one of those new-fangled motorcars, killed while protecting the children from a vicious intruder. . . . .Well, the dog has been ailing the last couple episodes. Last night Lord Grantham finally took her to a vet, then (very sadly) brought her home to die. . . .yup – the dog has cancer!

    I’m a big fan of the dog – I really think we’re all intelligent enough to realize that a dog’s name back in the 1930’s in England has nothing to do with today’s terror group. . . . .but that’s just me.

    • Linda says:

      Ugh – NOW I go back and proofread and see my pet peeve – “writer’s” does not need an apostrophe. . ..

    • Meghan says:

      I’d like to think we’re intelligent enough to know that the dog’s name is just a name and not a tie to the terrorist group, too, but I suppose a popular show has to bend to public demand (to a certain degree anyway). But yes, I am a big fan of the show. I binge watched every season during my weeks on the couch after chemo. I’m not surprised at the exit plan for the dog. Cancer is just a convenient scapegoat.

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