Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Becoming a neurosurgeon

I posted this as a comment on the post 'Tis the Season on Of Looking at a Blackbird:

Rosellen Brown told me that she was once at a dinner party where she was sitting next to a neurosurgeon. When the neurosurgeon found out that she was a novelist, he said that he was considering taking a sabbatical in order to write a novel. She said something like, "That's interesting. I've been considering taking a year off from writing in order to do neurosurgery."

As she commented, once in a while you say the right thing at the right time.


Donald Brown said...


Anyone can write a novel, it seems. Check out the listings of writers represented by agents sometime. Celebrities can all write. Sometimes it's memoirs, but sometimes it's fiction. A novel by a surgeon or any other professional is entirely likely (like the Yale Law Prof who recently produced a novel with a big advance).

But it simply doesn't work the other way and can't possibly. I'd like to side with Brown on that one, but basically anyone can write if they're willing to take the time, though that doesn't mean they'll produce a readable novel. But how will they know if they don't try?

However I doubt Brown can become a neurosurgeon just by taking a year to work at it.

Andrew Shields said...

Here's something Don later wrote to me in an email:

Rock star: "I always wanted to take some time off and write poems."
Published poet (Paul Muldoon): "Interesting. I always wanted to make a
rock album."

Anonymous said...

I say anyone can write a novel as well, but I equally say anyone can perform neurosurgy (to stick to the example). Still, it might not turn out too successful in every case.
The main difference is, that in order to do neurosurgy in a desired way, appropriate medical training helps a lot, is perhaps crucial, whereas writing skills can be obtained in many alternative ways, so it is much less linked to a professional training. And, there is no certificate required to write a novel (well, perhaps that is some idea), but as soon as you start cutting up humans, things become more serious (from one point of view).

By the way, you might want to change the colour scheme, Andrew (The current one is causing slight headaches) — anyone can design a website nowadays, right?