Saturday, September 28, 2013

redefining time

This week, I began an interesting schedule: 24 hour shifts every other day. It's as though time was put in a blender and poured out in a different form. I've woken up at 6 p.m. for breakfast and called my friends at 3 a.m., confused when they thought I was deranged. 

I'm still not sure what field of medicine I want to go into, since my interests in global, mental, and women's health can intersect in many ways. I've found that when there's a little bit of uncertainty, the best thing to do is focus on the now. Right now, there's magic to bringing a baby into the world. Right now, I'm humbled by the way a macho, tattoed man can break down in tears when he holds his little girl for the first time. Life from life from life.

With each year, I found that life is both uncertain and certain at once. We evolve from a question into a solid, declarative sentence. But there's little that's linear about it. Instead, it tends to be about braiding the contradictions together into a solid path. 

"What makes a book good?" Someone asked the other day.

There's never one answer. Some books are good because of the characters. Some have poetic writing. Others are quickly paced. This truth is the same reason why rejection is inevitable. Our work won't be good or bad to someone for the same reasons. This fact then leads to the other piece of advice we've all received: never give up because you never know who your work will connect with.

So, it goes:

Books can be good for different reasons---> Not everyone will connect with your particular reason---> Keep improving your work and looking for someone to "get" your view

I'm not sure where I was initially going with this post; something about time and linearity and books. Maybe when night and day have a clearer separation, my thoughts will, too :)

In the meantime, I'm excited to catch up with your blogs!

Also, I've heard so many great things about Alex's books (why am I not surprised?). Next weekend, that's the plan: Alex's books + normal schedule!

the only way to complain

Sunday, September 15, 2013

writing (and life) lessons

A couple of weeks ago, a close friend told me he realized he wants to write a novel. We got into a (3 hour) discussion on things to consider and it took me back to the little lessons I've learned throughout the years. The best part about writing is that I'll never consider myself good. In fact, I don't even use an adjective but the word "becoming". I'm always becoming. 

I wanted to share three lessons about various aspects of writing (and then a few of life). 

Getting started:

1. If you have a genre in mind, read at least 50 books in it and study them. How did the author create a compelling first chapter? Why did you want to turn the page? What did you think was done poorly?
2. Dedicate (read: protect) time to write. Since nobody is asking you for drafts, you are the only keeper of a deadline. If you don't take it seriously, nobody else will.
3. If you find yourself lagging, take a shower or walk or do the dishes. I call this my "half writing" time. I do another task, keeping the book in the back of my mind. With enough time, a conclusion of some sort arrives. 

Making a Sympathetic Character:

1. Humor always helps
2. Make his or her motivation clear and if possible, make that motivation conflict with the other characters'
3. Have the character on a journey. It can be completely psychological but there should be a sense of evolution from the beginning to end. 


1. Change! Change the setting, conflict, insert a subplot, take the reader by surprise, etc.
2. With each page, ask yourself, "Is there a sense of tension and theme here?" With each chapter, ask yourself, "Did enough happen where if I skipped this chapter, the reader would be confused?"
3. Sprinkle in some secrets if possible; some hints of mysterious backstory or hidden relationships. 


1. Learn from the moon and the way it only reveals as much as it needs to
2. There's an inverse relationship between the amount of experiences you've had and the amount you judge others
3. Controlled chaos is the best kind

Saturday, September 14, 2013

links, quotes, thoughts


*An insightful article on studying medicine with compassion

*Mindfulness training is good for physicians and patients


"If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development." Brian Tracy

"I am learning everyday every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me." Traccie Ellie Ross

"People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in and told they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more." -Stacey Jean Speer


*I've found that last quote by Speer to be especially true these past months. So many people come to the doctor just to be encouraged. It's our duty and privilege to be empowering cheerleaders. Sometimes it's been as simple as acknowledging that someone has been through a lot. Nobody likes feeling that their battles have gone unnoticed. 

*It's a blessing to be at a place where every relationship in my life is based on mutual respect and love. The people who aren't in my life have made it lighter. Isn't that wonderful---for an absence to be a positive, tangible force?  I hope they are well and that in the future, they handle their mistakes with insight and courage. 

*I have to make my tender self hold hands with my aggressive self. Outstretched, so neither can travel too far without the other.