Doctors are not known for their handwriting, yet — here’s an irony — there’s a long line of doctors-turned-writers, which includes playwright Anton Chekhov (“Uncle Vanya”) and Michael Crichton. That’s right, the author of “Jurassic Park” graduated from Harvard Medical School and then decided to bail on medicine in favor of becoming a writer.
And now we can add Bird Rock resident and UCSD doctor Diane Schneider to the list. Dr. Schneider was recently chosen as one of 10 winners of the fifth annual San Diego Memoir Showcase. The honor includes having Dr. Schneider’s winning submission, “Killer Bees,” featured in an award-winning anthology and performed in front of a live audience next month. A UCSD geriatrician and epidemiologist, Dr. Schneider recently retired as a faculty member of the university’s School of Medicine.
“It is an incredible honor to have ‘Killer Bees’ chosen and I am excited to have such a wonderful opportunity to see my writing performed,” she said. This year’s contest received nearly 200 submissions, which were reviewed by a panel of judges.
Dr. Schneider’s first project as a memoir writer, “Killer Bees” documents her “coming of age as a newly minted doctor at a big city Southern hospital,” she said, and examines the unexpected loss of a young patient and her family’s surprising response to her death.
While Dr. Schneider may be new to memoir writing, she always harbored a desire to write about different experiences she had as a physician.
“Diane has a remarkable story,” said Marni Freedman, the showcase’s producer. “She is a doctor who found her own humanity and sense of self when she herself was injured. We peek behind the curtain to see what it is like to become a doctor, and her journey is touching and inspirational.”
Schneider’s future plans as a writer include completing the first draft of her memoir, which she hopes will become the basis for a medical drama TV series.
The San Diego Memoir Showcase matches writers with local writing coaches and then hires professional actors and directors to bring their stories to life. Dr. Schneider’s piece, along with the other winners’ stories, will be featured in the 2020 anthology, “Shaking the Tree.”
“Everyone has a story,” Dr. Schneider said, “and I encourage anyone who has thought about writing a memoir to start writing.”
“Killer Bees” will be performed in front of a live audience at the North Coast Repertory Theatre on Oct. 28. Aspiring memoir writers (and readers), and anyone else, are encouraged to attend the matinee or evening performance. For more information on San Diego Memoir Writing Association or to get tickets for next month’s showcase, visit sdmwa.org.