Procrastinating on the new with the old, and so on
Or, a very erratic writing process
^A prime example of why I shouldn’t be in charge of titles OR subtitles
I’ve been spending time working on a novel about a group of women navigating identity and social relationships amidst medical training, who come together to solve a medical mystery.
Naturally, because I am “working” on that, I’ve been procrastinating on it by actually spending some of the time intended for writing by reading the old writing I did in medical school, some of which never really made it anywhere except maybe to my Doctoring class (shoutout to my medical student peers who read those rough drafts without reservations). And I’ve found myself wishing I did something with it.
I know I’m not unique in completing a piece of writing and wanting to figuratively put it in a drawer and not look at it for a few months. (Nowadays, that’s as simple as closing a tab and letting it collect the Google Doc equivalent of cobwebs—falling past your scroll bar on the home page). The ick factor related to reading my own writing is strong enough that I often just let it languish long enough that when I choose to come across it again, I’m reading it with the detached air of someone who is reading someone else’s work. In that vein, I’m 1) much more likely to surprise myself, and 2) much more likely to be more charitable to this “other” person than I am to myself. And because of these two factors, I’m actually more likely to like the writing a bit more than I did when I finish it. (In substack, I get around this trend by pushing the publish button before I have time to rethink it. To publish any creative writing, you have to be just the tiniest bit impulsive).
As you can imagine, this makes it very hard to edit anything, which makes a lot of the writing still not that great. For my fiction writing, I’ve found my writers’ group to be incredibly helpful, and provide the sense of community I need to motivate me to keep writing.
For the old narrative nonfiction writing I did in medical school, after taking a first look at it, I’m realizing that it actually flows together nicely, and I have a lot of it. Over 50 pages worth! And I realize I want some of it out in the world.
Actually, in my fourth year of medical school, I wanted my senior project to be compiling this writing into a book-length manuscript about the experience of being a medical student. I saved a bunch of notes that are still in a thick stack in our basement, amongst the other items I hoard. However, the curricular policy was that our senior project had to be an evidence-based research project, which led to a mind-numbing chart review experience that I will never repeat. This isn’t an excuse—I could have still done it—but writing without deadlines is ever-expandable.
So this is my long-winded way of asking if any of the readers of this newsletter would like to read some narrative nonfiction pages about medical school for fun and critique them. This will motivate me to spruce up what I have before sending it to you. And that way, when I get the edits back, I’ll be able to procrastinate working on those edits by…working on the aforementioned novel.