There’s an old saying often offered to beginning authors: write what you know. Along with my friends here at Case in Pointe, this will be the first time I dip my toes into the blogosphere, so I keep reminding myself of that simple counsel. The problem is, figuring out “what I know” — where my expertise lies, subjects upon which I might be considered to have any form of authoritative knowledge — raises more questions than it answers.
Two weeks ago, I began my orientation for medical school, and received a white coat as a symbol of my entry into (the training for) the profession toward which I have been striving for the past few years. As orientations go, it’s been pretty average — although somewhat sinister when it comes to discussing academic failure review procedures — so it’s hard for me to understand how much of a personal milestone this really is sometimes. Most of the time, I am proud and honored to be doing what I’m doing. So many others have tried and failed to earn a seat in the halls where I find myself these days, so I take time to celebrate my achievements and do not take them lightly.
In many ways, though, it feels like a baby step on an exceedingly long journey. Numerous friends from high school and college have moved on to jobs, in which they supposedly do not work at home and do earn salaries for their toils, concepts foreign to a med student. And that word, student: it’s what I’ve been nearly my whole life! In Pokemon parlance, it’s as if I’m holding the B button to prevent me from evolving to my third and final form. Med school also means that I will devote much of my time to studying, so I will likely find myself unable and/or unwilling to devote the time or effort to pieces like the carefully structured policy analyses that my colleagues at this esteemed blog have already published. I may use that time to feed myself or, Lord willing, rest before returning to the M.D. hamster wheel. (If this seems too dark an outlook, don’t fret. Trust me: my fellow medical students are wonderful people! They are kind, warm, and driven, and we’ll be sure to keep each other sane. To boot, if complaining is an art, medical students could collectively fill the Louvre. So if I get on a rant, just smile and nod politely until it’s over.)
By now, you should see where the problem lies. “Writing what you know” is advice that draws on an author’s viewpoints, authority, or experiences, goes the thinking, so “writing what they know” will give an author something valuable and significant to bring to the table. I’ve tried hard to link “what I know” to an academic discipline or area of study, but that presents me with two main difficulties. First, I don’t know that much about my particular academic specialty. Sure, I’ve taken all the medical pre-requisites in undergrad, and I scored well on the MCAT, but the knowledge I stand to receive in even the next year alone dwarfs whatever understanding of medicine I might have now. Second, I hate closing doors for myself. Medicine is absolutely my passion, but there’s more to life than my professional career. This blog is a way for me to keep some of my non-medical doors open — to enrich my life in ways that don’t relate to what I do in the clinic or at school. That’s not to say I won’t write about medicine; I just won’t right now.
Returning to that age-old advice: what do I know? I’ll simply answer: I know what I like. Consequently, I’m here to introduce my semi-regular column, Appreciations. I’ll provide readers with informal and personal accounts of a few of my favorite things, be they media like games, movies, TV, or music, or people like authors or public figures. Some will be medically related, some will not, but all will tell you a little bit about me and how those things helped me grow into who I am today. I call it Appreciations because I will likely (and unapologetically) treat these subjects with a soft touch — I will criticize works or people where and when I feel it is appropriate, but mainly I will write about things I appreciate. My hope is that I might expose you, the reader, to a variety of experiences and people you might enjoy reading about and exploring for yourself, as I did with my friends in the Case Hall lounge for the past several years. Part of this pursuit is also selfish: Dissecting why I like the things I like may help me to find more things that I like, and possibly reveal new truths about myself and how I have gotten to where I am.
It’s a bit of a drag to tell you about this column, so I’d rather show you. Take a chance to read my first Appreciation here.