Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On Writing, Laser Beams and the New Year

You know, that’s one thing about writing, or at least the craziness of being a writer -- the story rarely seems good enough to consider done. There’s always something to tweak.

Here below is the revision of a vignette I wrote earlier.  It's a perfect example. The task for a writing workshop was to write about a challenge I had to overcome. My response was as follows:

As part of a job application, I was asked to write an essay.  The writing prompt could have been lines of Latin, for all it mattered.  I was instructed to write a passage about the stated topic-du-jour: excimer lasers.

Huh? Exa-what? Neither my high school chemistry class, nor my college “Physics for Poets” lectures had prepared me for this.

I read the passage over and over, then closed my eyes for a moment to 
quiet my mind and calm my fears. I began to write. I wrote and edited and wrote a bit more about the virtues, the features and the benefits of cold versus hot lasers when applied in heart surgery.

I wrestled with the words and  struggled to make sense of the morass. My essay seemed to morph into wholly different narratives with each successive rewrite.  Finally, I surrendered. I turned off the computer and succumbed to the notion that the task had been insurmountable.

A few days later the phone rang and a Ms. Kaminski said succinctly: “Hello Valerie. We 
have reviewed your application and would like to offer the staff writer position.”

I got the job!? Stunned and thrilled, I accepted.  

Somewhere in all that writing and editing, I overcame the seemingly insurmountable challenge to understand complex new concepts, and landed a medical/health care writing position with Medical Data International. I worked for the company from 1996-98, until my position was ultimately eliminated when the workforce was downsized following the company's acquisition by IHS, Inc.

This yarn was originally written for Visible Ink, a therapeutic writing program sponsored by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I have been participating in the program throughout my cancer treatment.  It has helped me manage myriad micro and macro challenges that have accompanied my life through my diagnosis and treatment.

In this way, my writing has mirrored my life -- a constant effort spent working to get it right, manage change, perfect when possible, and eliminate incongruity.

Since writing the laser story, I am again, on the dawn of a promising New Year. Now cancer-free, I am open to opportunities.

It is time to again rewrite my story.

(c) 2013 Valerie Williams-Sanchez. All Rights reserved.