Google+ YA Romantics: Why Writing is Harder Than Medicine by I. W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why Writing is Harder Than Medicine by I. W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above!

None of the Above
by I.W. Gregorio
To be published on April 7, 2015
by Balzer and Bray

Synopsis from Goodreads:What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant? When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him. But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned--something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts." Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?
I read None of the Above last week and was impressed but the way the book tackled a little known and discussed issue. It's a compelling story that taught me more about what it means to be intersex and really made me think about issues of identity, the intersection of gender and biology, as well as tolerance and self-acceptance.

I'm thrilled to welcome author I. W. Gregorio to the blog. She's a practicing surgeon and here to tell us why she thinks writing is tougher than medicine. Below that, you can enter to win a mystery box of Harper ARCs!

Waiting for a case to start
5 ways writing is WAY harder than medicine 

by I.W. Gregorio

A couple of years ago, I was at a conference and ended up kvetching with an agent about all my anxiety surrounding publishing. She tried to calm me down by saying something like, “You’re a freaking doctor, why are you stressed out about hacking the book world?”

In response, I declared that medicine was a piece of cake. It was writing that was hard. To wit:

1.     Most of the time in medicine, you have a roadmap to care, and a pretty well paved road in front of you. I mean, that’s what medical school is for: Giving you the knowledge and experience to navigate the human body. In contrast, when you’re a writer, you have to bushwhack the way to your story every day. Sure, you can hone your craft by taking classes and reading (in a way, other books are the closest things to signposts that writers have), but sometimes the beginning stages of writing a story feels like you’re wandering blindfolded in the jungle.

2.     When you’re not sure what to do with a patient, you can always tell them to get a second opinion. But when you’re an author, only you can write your book. One of the reasons I initially didn’t go into writing was because I realized that, in the end, it was a solitary act. No matter how many critique partners you have, no matter what advice your agent or editor gives you, in the end, the buck stops with you. That is both liberating and somewhat terrifying.

3.     Doctors get paid for the work they do (at varying levels, of course). Writers? Not so much. I have so much respect for every writer I know, published or unpublished. Because let’s face it, most of us don’t write for the money - after all, most writers don’t get paid they have a mostly finished product. And it’s freaking scary to operate without a net like that. And even if you get a six figure deal, if you count all the hours you spent writing (let alone the years you wrote before getting a publishing deal), you basically earn minimum wage. In other words, like many other writers, I’m keeping my job for now!

4.     At the end of the day, when I’m not on call, I come home from work and can decompress from doctoring. But a writer’s job is never done. The blank page is a hard, hard mistress. There’s always another page to write, another paragraph to tweak.

5.     People go to doctor’s because they need them; people read books because they want to - and as such, the writer is always at the mercy of a reader’s taste. Sure, medicine is moving toward an increased emphasis on patient satisfaction. But let’s be honest, in the end what really matters is outcomes - when a patient gets better, s/he is usually happy and grateful. S/he doesn’t downgrade your review because they didn’t like the cover, or the flap copy doesn’t match your story, or they don’t like how many times your character dropped an f-bomb. A truisim in writing is that no matter how good a book is, someone’s going to give it a one star.

Bottom line? Mad respect for the work that all authors do, and for their ability to reach thousands of people with a single book.

About the Author:

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. After getting her MD, she did her residency at Stanford, where she met the intersex patient who inspired her debut novel, None of the Above (Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins). She is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books™ and serves as its VP of Development. A recovering ice hockey player, she lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children. Visit her online on her website, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and GoodReads for her latest news.


Each None of the Above tour stop will debunk a common myth about being intersex. Here's Myth  #2:


Be sure to check out the other posts on the tour, and below that you can enter to win the Mystery Box of ARCs!

NONE OF THE ABOVE Tour

The Midnight Garden             Tuesday 3/31        What is Intersex?
YA Romantics                        Wednesday 4/1     5 Ways Writing is Way Harder Than Medicine
The Reading Date                 Thursday 4/2         5 Inspiring LGBTQI Books That Can, and Will, Change Lives
Supernatural Snark                Friday 4/3             Writing What You Don't Know
The Irish Banana                    Monday 4/6          Interview with Lianne Simon, intersex author 


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36 comments:

  1. I agree with her! I'm not a doctor, but I'm a nurse and no matter how hectic my work day is... I go home and get to relax and work at disconecting from my job... a writer never fully does that! MAD PROPS FOR WRITERS!!

    And I'm extremely intrigued about this book, I'm so getting myself a copy!

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    1. I didn't know you were a nurse!!
      And yes, I agree that jobs you can't leave behind at an office can be the toughest.
      Definitely read the book -- very thought-provoking!

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  2. As someone who struggled with biology and chemistry in high school, I have to go with medicine on this one - for me, medicine is definitely more difficult than writing!

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    1. Guys -- so sorry that I'm just now responding. April Fools was a big day for me -- no fooling :)

      I agree with you Kelly -- chemistry nearly killed me in hs. (It didn't help that I had a huge crush on my lab partner...)

      Delete
  3. Both professions seem hard to me! lol

    I can't wait to read this one.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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  4. I don't think I could ever do either profession, never mind both! I really need to read this one. :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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  5. I love that Ilene's a surgeon and that she shared these with us! Personally, I don't want to be a doctor, but I do want to be an author someday. But #5 is really convincing. Except if you do something wrong and then the patient hates you forever... Now that's scary business.

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    1. Ha -- if your characters are mad at you, you can just .... erase them off your computer.

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  6. Wow, it's commitment itself doing a really hard-going job in medicine, quite emotional too no doubt and then writing. I mean you have your inspiration and your passion for writing but I guess there is a lot of stress too about the publishing, what people will think, like a never-ending cycle. It's quite amazing to see and nice to hear as well when her book is doing so well around the blogosphere. Great post, Jen! :)

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    1. Thanks, but IWG did all the hard work ;)

      I feel like a lot of people get that being a doctor is hard and think writing is easy -- until they try it :)

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  7. Authors that juggle writing with they're day jobs are amazing. It seems like both writing and medicine would be very taxing, though possibly in different ways.

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    1. Agree -- I think juggling being a doctor and being a writer has got to be doubly hard!

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  8. Interesting comparison between a writer's job vs that of a doctor. I haven't read her book, but I really want to given the intriguing subject matter. Really good post.

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    1. Definitely try the book -- very thought-provoking!

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  9. I could never imagine beyond an author. I've written short stories for classes before and struggled so much with being done with my work. I'm not by any means a perfectionist but when I can fix my work, i'm going to fix it. So writing for me is never finished and I can only imagine what a writer must feel like. I'm completely amazed that some authors can have day jobs while writing their books. I mean, where do they find the time? My brain would be all over the place. I'd be an emotional mess. This post was pretty amazing and i'm sending it to my surgeon cousin with the tagline "Please, your job isn't even all that hard..." LOL!
    Thanks for having this Jen!
    lily @ lilysbookblog

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    1. That is such a good point. I think any job where your work feels unfinished (or you take it home with you) has definite challenges, especially if you are a perfectionist!

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  10. I have so much respect for authors, like I don't think I can even begin to imagine all they go through and how terrifying it can be.

    I don't even know how they do it! Like how do you find time for writing after a long day of work? I just want to nap all the time because I am tired and just really, mad props to all the writers.

    AND really, you are so on point, Ilene about how difficult it is to start something. I've only written short stories for classes but I remember the last time I was writing one, I was completely freaking out and had no idea what I was doing and ended up staying up very late editing so that it would be good and I was STILL nervous. *shudders*

    Thank you so much for sharing this guest post with us, Jen and Ilene!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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    1. I definitely think writing forces you to expose yourself emotionally in a way that's hard. But having someone's life in your hands would be a ton of pressure in a different way!

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  11. I don't know if I'm quite convinced that writing is harder than medical school, residency, and surgery, but this is a really interesting guest post, hah. I like the comparisons between the two, however, and I find it fascinating when authors tell us about their lives outside of their book lives.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour, Jen! I knew this would be a great home for this post.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Aw, thanks Wendy. It was my pleasure. I'm looking forward to checking the other posts out!

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  12. I read this book via Edelweiss and I absolutely LOVED it! And haha, I can see how writing can be harder than medicine in some ways, but woah, at least writers don't have to go through ten+ years of medical school and whatnot. Again, amazing book, and I really like the whole myth debunking thing. Way to go, Jen, and the Midnight Garden!

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    1. Glad you loved the book too. It made me think a lot about so many different issues!

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  13. Wow, all these reasons are so true! If you put it like that, writing is indeed harder because it's a never-ending process. For Medicine, you get like 5-6 years of med school and you're pretty much set. It's also predictable in a sense someone comes in and you can diagnose them easily if you follow a set of processes. Writing is not that easy and predictable! Mad respect for authors right now @_______@

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. Very true, but the 5-6 years of med school and residency involves HUGE sleep deprivation, which to me is probably the worst thing imaginable!

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  14. I don't know if writing is harder than being a doctor, but I think it gets a lot less recognition overall.

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    1. On the whole that is probably true!

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  15. Idk writing and medicine would be hard for me. I think writing is harder because you have to think of a good plot that will catch the readers attention and interesting characters and just like the author said you have to think about what to write and you could get writers block, and then people will either love or hate your book. As for Medicine, they have pills and other things that will make you better.

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  16. I think it depends on the type of person. For some writing comes easy and for others its medicine. I think that when you have the potential to lose someone on the operating table and I think that takes its toll. As a writer as much as you are connected to your characters, the idea of losing them isn't the same as losing someone as it is on the operating table.

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  17. When I originally read the question, I definitely thought that medicine was more hard, but that may be because I'd be completely scared of giving someone the wrong medicine even if I did study it for years. After reading the list, I definitely agree that writing is harder! I never thought about how basically writers only earn minimum wage. Sometimes they end up earning even less if their book isn't well known.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

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  18. 1. I am SO excited about this book (and I didn't even know it existed 10 minutes ago, so this is saying something)
    2. I can't even imagine having the willpower and energy to work as a doctor all day and then write. I work as a nanny/receptionist, but am a musician (another field that doesn't pay consistently/well) and I have to tell you, sometimes it is just beyond me to practice. So doing what she does is CRAZY impressive to me!

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  19. Great post and what a thought provoking book...love all the myths on each blog!

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  20. I definitely agree with the author. While doctors don't have all of the answers, they usually have an answer or can refer their patient to someone who does.It is actually one of the things that appealed to me about medicine even though I ended up in a different scientific field. In writing, you can't always turn to someone for help and you can never be sure about how your book will be received. I definitely don't have the confidence to put myself out there like that.

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  21. I haven't really done either, but I am a pharmacy technician. I know I have a hard time dealing with customers when they are sick.

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