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Writing Craziness 
My crooked path toward a writing career 
by Melissa Yi/Yuan-Innes/Yuan/Yin
First Plan: Artist/Ballerina 
Turned out I 
liked tutus 
more than 
ballet.
Stubborn 
a.k.a. Don’t make me point at the mermaid 
“A woman writer must have an imagination that is plain stubborn, that...
Germany=writing 
When I was ten, my parents moved me to foreign country with 
few English books. I was an outcast. Solutio...
Permission to Write 
“Who gave you permission to be a poet?” Jim White, quoted by Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind 
My answer...
University of everything 
For university, I studied 
the Arts and Sciences 
and Psychology. And 
dressed up as 
Odysseus’s...
“I’ll just be a doctor AND a 
writer. It’ll give me something 
to write about.” --Me, fourth year
“Skin Song” 
I wrote about music and cadavers, 
won 2nd place in Writers of the 
Future & attended a professional 
writing...
Instead, I wrote about a girl who 
could tell the future using popcorn.
I wrote vampires & wizards
Bonobo-human hybrids... 
I sold some stories and poems, 
won a few awards, but couldn’t 
get a traditional New York book 
...
Still, I kept writing. Stubborn. 
It wasn’t until I graduated that I could write about medicine.
Medical non-fiction, too. 
60 APRIL 20, 2010 CanadianHealthcareNetwork.ca THE MEDICAL POST 
last laugh 
“JUST READ MY CHAR...
( !+,)( 
 
!(0
  ( !+,)( 

.,-)'!+
 !+%
 
$-!
  +. 
#$**,()
  

))+
  
 
$1!
  2/	2 
.$-$)(
 
 
The Medical Post was 
very...
CBC 
The publishing world was in 
upheaval, so I stubbornly approached 
the CBC. They offered me a contract 
for a pilot r...
I took control.
Became Kobo’s Cover Girl.
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Writing Craziness: how I became a creative writer and human being (and you can, too!)

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I've wanted to be a writer since I was five years old. But it took moving to Germany, finding a supportive high school boyfriend, hours of writing and learning, and tremendous stubbornness to actually make the leap to selling my stories, articles, and novels.

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Writing Craziness: how I became a creative writer and human being (and you can, too!)

  1. 1. Writing Craziness My crooked path toward a writing career by Melissa Yi/Yuan-Innes/Yuan/Yin
  2. 2. First Plan: Artist/Ballerina Turned out I liked tutus more than ballet.
  3. 3. Stubborn a.k.a. Don’t make me point at the mermaid “A woman writer must have an imagination that is plain stubborn, that can invent new gods and banish ineffectual ones.” -Yvonne Vera, Zimbabwean author
  4. 4. Germany=writing When I was ten, my parents moved me to foreign country with few English books. I was an outcast. Solution? Write.
  5. 5. Permission to Write “Who gave you permission to be a poet?” Jim White, quoted by Natalie Goldberg in Wild Mind My answer: Matt, my high school boyfriend.
  6. 6. University of everything For university, I studied the Arts and Sciences and Psychology. And dressed up as Odysseus’s Penelope for Hallowe’en. 'If you don't know where you are going, any road can take you there.' ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
  7. 7. “I’ll just be a doctor AND a writer. It’ll give me something to write about.” --Me, fourth year
  8. 8. “Skin Song” I wrote about music and cadavers, won 2nd place in Writers of the Future & attended a professional writing workshop in Oregon. With a dancing cow. I could have worked toward a contract to write a medical “for Dummies” book.
  9. 9. Instead, I wrote about a girl who could tell the future using popcorn.
  10. 10. I wrote vampires & wizards
  11. 11. Bonobo-human hybrids... I sold some stories and poems, won a few awards, but couldn’t get a traditional New York book contract. I wanted a time machine so I could go after that Dummies book. Why was I writing so many stories no one would read?
  12. 12. Still, I kept writing. Stubborn. It wasn’t until I graduated that I could write about medicine.
  13. 13. Medical non-fiction, too. 60 APRIL 20, 2010 CanadianHealthcareNetwork.ca THE MEDICAL POST last laugh “JUST READ MY CHART from last night,” said the irri-tated patient, an elderly man. I pointed at the current ER chart on my clipboard. “Your previous records haven’t arrived yet. I know from your triage note that you had a bloody nose and you were here last night, but it’s no longer bleeding. So, what did they do for you last night?” “Just read my chart,” he repeated indignantly. by Melissa Yuan-Innes “I don’t have your chart, sir. It’s at medical records and it will take a while to come. Could you tell me what kind of treatment you received?” “Just. Read. My. Chart.” I changed the subject: “Are you taking any medications?” “I’m healthy,” he said. Not wanting to explain that many people feel healthy but take medications, I continued trying to ask questions: “Are you taking any blood thinners, like Coumadin, or antiplatelet medications, such as Aspirin or Plavix?” “I’m healthy!” “So that’s a no, then?” “NO! I’M HEALTHY.” Just before giving up and moving on to the physical exam, I decided to entreat him one last time: “Sir, it takes time to get your old charts and sometimes they get lost. It’s in your own best interest to explain what happened and what medications you take.” He didn’t answer. I looked up his nose, which still wasn’t bleeding, and decided to insert some Gelfoam to prevent any problem and thereby discour-age him from coming back on my shift. When I walked back to the central nursing station, which was surrounded by 13 stretch-ers full of patients waiting for me, the elderly man hollered for all to hear: “You are the most unfeeling doctor I have ever met!” I paused and considered walking back to talk to him, but decided to get on with more pressing matters instead. I had to finish seeing all the ambulatory patients and close down this department of the emergency room before I could go home. An hour later, I did go back to check the elderly man’s nose again but his condi-tion hadn’t changed. A teaching moment? Buddhists believe life is your best teacher. So that abusive patient was supposed to be my teacher, but it made me mad to think of him that way. A few days later, I told my book club about the incident and concluded: “So I had to finish my shift, knowing that every other patient in the room thought I was a heartless doctor.” “No,” two of my friends said. “If I heard a patient like that, I’d feel sorry for the doctor.” Another friend laughed and said, “I. Love. Your. Stories!” For the first time, I saw that it was kind of funny. In the end, I decided that if I were to treat someone like that elderly man again, I’d say: “I can see you’re angry. So, you can be angry at me, but I’m not angry at you.” Sure, I may come off as a New Age fruitcake, but at least I would be showing him com-passion instead of, say, wanting to offer him another nosebleed. Hey, look at me, I’m enlight-ened already! Melissa Yuan-Innes is an emer-gency physician in Cornwall and Alexandria, Ont. For more of her writing, go to www.melissayuaninnes.net. Channel your inner Buddha to achieve peace with patients When the ER is fraught with angry patients, just enlighten up Dave Whamond
  14. 14. ( !+,)( !(0 ( !+,)( .,-)'!+ !+% $-! +. #$**,() ))+ $1! 2/ 2 .$-$)( The Medical Post was very, very good to me.
  15. 15. CBC The publishing world was in upheaval, so I stubbornly approached the CBC. They offered me a contract for a pilot radio drama. Finally, my dreams were coming true! Except they didn’t end up producing it. And then the whole radio drama department was cancelled. Note to self: public radio in upheaval, too. Also, arts cuts BAD.
  16. 16. I took control.
  17. 17. Became Kobo’s Cover Girl.
  18. 18. Still working. Still writing. Over! Under! Through! Grover version As for my high school boyfriend? Reader, I married him.

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