Madeleine Mysko, MA, RN, coordinator of AJN’s monthly Reflections column, is a poet, novelist, and graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars who has taught creative writing in Baltimore for many years.
Whenever I meet someone new who happens to be a nurse—in both clinical and social settings—I wait for the right moment to mention my work at AJN on the Reflections column. It’s not only that I’m proud of the column. It’s also that I’m forever on the lookout for that next submission—for a fresh, compelling story I just know is destined to shine (accompanied by a fabulous professional illustration) on the inside back page of AJN.
“I imagine you have a story or two to tell,” I’ll say to a nurse I’ve just met—which is the same thing I say, whenever I have the chance, to nurses I’ve known for years. I mean it sincerely; given the vantage point on humanity that our profession affords, I actually do believe that every nurse is carrying around material for a terrific story.
The response I usually get (along with a wry smile, the raising of eyebrows, or a short laugh) is, “Oh yes. I have stories.”
But then—even as I’m mentioning the Reflections author guidelines, even as I say warmly that we’re eager to read—I can sense the backing away.
“Sure,” the nurse will say. “I’ll check it out . . . but the thing is, I’m not exactly a writer.”
How to explain it?—how to explain that we aren’t so much looking for nurses who are good writers as we’re looking for essays well written by good nurses.
If you’re still with me in this scenario (and especially if you’re someone not exactly inclined to sit down before breakfast on your day off and pen a gem of an essay) maybe you could let me know what you think of this pitch: Read the rest of this entry »