Through Sarton’s example, I became more able to develop and share my talents by daring to write about what matters. May wrote unflinchingly about cancer; about infidelity; about depression; about hatred and prejudice; about friends and animals dying; about feeling suicidal. She made me realize through many of her poems and her journal entries, in particular, that these were legitimate topics about which to write, that there was an audience for them. She came out of the closet in her novel Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing(1965) when it was unfashionable to do so and suffered professional repercussions, but she did it. She taught me that daily life and relationships, in many ways, are what really matter in this life; the way we lead our lives and treat others influences and defines our mental and physical health.
I discovered, as had Sarton, that writing down my thoughts and shaping and revising them into some cogent form ordered my world. I realized what was important, and what I needed to focus on. I discovered what I felt and thought about a number of issues that, prior to knowing Sarton, I might not have recognized as so pressing in my life.