Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Writing and Surgery

The title of this post might make folks who aren’t writers turn away; but, from my perspective, readers only increase their appreciation for writers when they learn more about the writing life.

Are writers like Surgeons?

Image courtesy of Adam Ciesielski ~

I decided to do this post because Alec Nevala-Lee wrote a post called How is a writer like a surgeon?

I may also have leaned toward it because I had a critical surgery not all that long ago; and, while the attending doctors nearly crippled me with the pharmaceuticals they gave me, I’m very happy the surgeon saved me from the blocked artery I created from years of poor eating

As I usually do (to entice you to go read a full post), I’ll share a few excerpts.

Alec quoting E.L. Doctorow (who was an editor before becoming a novelist):

“Editing taught me how to break books down and put them back together. You learn values—the value of tension, of keeping tension on the page and how that’s done, and you learn how to spot self-indulgence, how you don’t need it. You learn how to become very free and easy about moving things around, which a reader would never do….You’re at ease in the book the way a surgeon is at ease in a human chest, with all the blood and guts and everything.”

Alec quoting John Ruskin:

“There is but one question ultimately to be asked respecting every line you draw: Is it right or wrong? If right, it most assuredly is not a ‘free’ line, but an intensely continent, restrained and considered line; and the action of the hand in laying it is just as decisive, and just as ‘free’ as the hand of a first-rate surgeon in a critical incision.”

And, Alec himself:

“…while it may seem like a stretch to compare a patient of flesh and blood to the fictional men and women on which a writer operates, the stakes are at least analogous….it’s not just a stack of pages, but a year of one’s existence that might feel like a loss if the operation isn’t successful. A story is a slice of mortality, distilled to a physical form that runs the risk of disappearing without a trace if we can’t preserve it.”

And, just one of the Comments after Alec’s post (from Ben Ezard):

“Just days ago I blogged, ‘I stand over my creative womb, gloves on and scalpal ready… there are two babies in there, conjoined twins and it is my job to separate them. Remaining together there chances are minimal, but separated they both may live healthy lives. I must extricate them from one another, sharing out vital organs and repairing the wounds the procedure inflicts.’ :)”

Does the comparison work for you—Writer as Surgeon?
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com


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