Why do writers write? It is always to tell a story, but why do we bother to tell that story in the first place? Sometimes the purpose is to entertain, sometimes the purpose is to impart information, sometimes it is to teach. And often, it is to do all three of these things. Stories give us the opportunity to engage our emotional centers, and then facts make a more lasting impression. People just learn better when we they’re having fun. Writers also write better when we are having fun ourselves.
I have been a practicing physician for thirty years and I wanted people to actually enjoy hearing my story, as horrifying as it is. I started writing my first novel CODE BLUE: The Other End of the Stethoscope, out of utter frustration with––and yes, anger at––our healthcare system. Most people have no idea what happens “on the other end of the stethoscope.” They have no idea that we physicians are caught between satisfying “customers” and fulfilling “productivity” measures. When patients become consumers, preyed upon by advertising gimmicks and incentives, they are given a whole different status. The priority of service is no longer to provide the best treatment, but to “keep the customer satisfied.” Being held accountable to productivity measures means we need to generate a minimum revenue pre-set by whichever corporate industry owns us. These are factors important to business, not to taking care of sick people.
I wanted my story to be something people would want to read. The problem of health care is a heavy subject, and there are so many issues in the news these days that are difficult to digest, that many people (including myself) have become numb to yet another crisis. So that’s not what we want to read. Give me a story that I can relax with and enjoy.
In CODE BLUE, I have tried to provide both relaxation and enjoyment. Within the global conspiracy the book presents, I hope you will root for the fictional protagonists and hiss at the villains as corruption and murder are woven together and threaten the lives of everyday, vulnerable patients. I hope you will wonder wistfully if an old love will be rekindled. And as you read their stories, you will also hear my story, and the story of how physicians and our patients are being swindled.
My goal is to reach not only my colleagues for whom this is more commiseration than education, but to gently engage the non-medical community in yet another arduous and uncomfortable modern day calamity.
I wanted to enjoy creating my own characters, giving them personalities and back stories, dreams and nightmares, because I needed to escape the reality in which I lived, even while I languished in its murk. That is the final reason why writers write. We write for ourselves––to entertain ourselves, to express ourselves, and to find our own catharsis.