Saturday, August 15, 2015

A surgeon starts to write

Soon after that procurement [of organs from a young woman], I began to write stories. Not much, for when faced with a decision between eating and sleeping for the first time in seventy-two hours or writing, the primal needs won out every time. But when I finished my training a year later, fortified with the relatively regular meals and sleep of an attending surgeon, I began to write with some consistency. To my surprise, the writing seemed to pour out from a locked-up data bank within, oftentimes in unmitigated, logorrheic, and exhausting bursts. And the fictional stories I thought I was creating were almost always thinly veiled narratives about my patients, many of whom had passed away sometime in the last decade.
Pauline W. Chen, Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality  (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), ch. 9

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