Full circle in life and writing

Feb 26, 2016 | 8 comments |

Many years ago while studying for my public relations (PR) qualification, I volunteered at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). I wrote articles for the CHEO Foundation newsletter and advertising copy to support a fundraising campaign. Back then, with English Rose far in my future, children’s healthcare was an important but still abstract concept.

Fast forward to February 2016, and it was as the mom of a tween that I found myself once again at CHEO.

All those years ago, I wrote about the empathy and compassion of CHEO doctors and nurses. I wrote about their skill and dedication to young patients and their families, and the cutting-edge research CHEO specialists carry out across many different areas of paediatric health. And I wrote about what CHEO means to desperate parents of a sick child.

Last Saturday, I was that desperate parent of a sick child.  

After a supposedly minor gym injury hadn’t healed as it should, CHEO doctors gave English Rose a new diagnosis and referrals to the specialists she needs to give her the best chance to make a full recovery.

As a parent, I got the empathy and compassion I once wrote about, but which I didn’t then have the life experience to truly appreciate.

In fiction, a circular narrative is a way of telling a story where the action begins and ends at the same place. Romance writers often use a circular narrative, or “bookending,” to put characters in a similar situation at the beginning and end of a story to show how much they’ve grown and changed.

It’s a technique I’ve used in my writing, including in one of those long ago CHEO PR pieces.

This week, life and writing intertwined and I came full circle.

And, author that I am, I took the opportunity of that hospital visit to do some research for the third book in my small-town Vermont series. After all, I couldn’t pass by information leaflets that dovetailed so nicely with a scene I happened to be plotting, now could I?

More information

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario 

Jane Graves (2013) “Bookend scenes: Bringing your story full circle” [Accessed 25 February 2016]


  1. Jennifer Wilck

    Well, I’m glad things worked out and she’s finally (hopefully) on the mend. And kudos to multitasking and turning it into a writing/research opportunity!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, Jennifer. English Rose and I appreciate your support. Writing/research opportunities are everywhere, although I could have done without this particular one!

  2. Jean Bull

    I know only too well how you must feel dealing with a sick child in hospital. I do hope that English Rose is better soon with the help of the dedicated doctors and nurses at CHEO.
    Good for you to use any opportunity to gather information for your research. After all, without life and its experiences, what would we have to draw on for our writing?

    • Jen Gilroy

      I know you do, Jean, and I very much appreciate you popping in to comment and send good wishes and support. My life experience indeed makes me the writer I am, as it does for each one of us.

  3. Sue Bavin

    I do love a story that has that “full circle” element, Jen, and it is lovely to hear about your real-life “full circle” experience. Best wishes to English Rose for a full recovery.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Sue. As always, I appreciate your support. I love “full circle” stories too.

  4. Tara Sheets

    Oh, Jen! It sounds like you and your sweet daughter have been going through quite the ordeal. I am so sorry she’s had trouble with her injury, but I’m very glad you have a trusted hospital to aid in her recovery. I hope she is well on the mend now!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks so much, Tara. Yes, English Rose is having a tough time but with lots of medical professionals involved, I’m hopeful she’ll soon turn the corner. I appreciate you commenting and your caring wishes.


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