Reflections from the Sirenland Writers Conference
To me, writing is the tool I use to try to understand something that has happened, or is happening, in my life. And of all the things I want to understand, my experience taking care of transplant patients for nearly 25 years is near the top of the list. In that effort at self-discovery, I have written a memoir called Promising Air which deals with the 10-year period that I led the lung transplant program at Stanford. I write about the successes and the failures, the frustrations and the triumphs, and I explore how the experience changed me in the most profound ways. Writing is not a distinct part of my life, separate from my transplant life – it is an integral part of my transplant life. And always will be.
My writing has led now me to Positano, Italy where I am working with world-renowned authors at the Sirenland Writers Conference. I am here working on sharpening my skills as a writer, which I consider a way to express my most important passion: wanting to see transplant patients get the best possible outcome. As I understand more deeply what it means to take care of these patients, how the transplant experience affects patients, patients’ families, and the transplant team, I feel that I’ll be able to reach more people who need our help. The book project I’ll work on next is focused on demystifying the transplant process, making the transplant journey more understandable, and bringing readers inside what is really happening at transplant programs – the pressures they face and how those pressures impact what happens to the patient.
While writing is difficult for everyone (even for the authors here at #Sirenland who regularly find themselves on bestseller lists), it is the best way I’ve found to make sense of what the transplant experience is all about – the miracle of it and the heartbreak of it. I look forward to having more to say about all of this in the coming days.