Thursday, January 20, 2011

shaking hands, kissing babies

My publicist (that sounds weird) suggested, along with a couple of other things, that I make business cards for book promotion purposes, and that I start giving them out to everyone I know, have known, or will ever know. That seems a little grassroots in These Modern Times (or possibly borderline inappropriate--I'm not going to do that anywhere near work or the hospital for instance, because that's freaky), but the act of making the cards seemed easy enough. So I did.

(I made them on Qoop, by the way--seemed like a good service, and they make full-color two-sided cards, which is nice. I wasn't in love with the idea of having a black-on-one-side-red-on-the-other business card, because it feels a little bit Third Reich, but their choices of background colors are limited, and it matches the colors on the book cover, at least.)

I do wish I had that gene that makes schmoozing total strangers easy instead of enervating (let's call it the Bill Clinton gene) but it's something that I'm going to have to work on. One other thing that my publicist wants me to do in advance of the book publication is to work on an article (something like an opinion piece or an Op-Ed) that we could try to submit and hopefully get published right around the book publication date. She told me about this, by the way, the day before I read Amy Chua's "Chinese Mother" article in the WSJ, which is why 75% of my reaction to that particular article has been, Oh my God, that woman is a genius, because everyone on the freaking planet is talking about her and her book right now.

I don't think that my book has as much built-in potential to inflame (nor would inflammation necessarily be my goal--in general I am an anti-inflammatory), but it can't hurt to pick a topic that people want to talk about. Certain hoary old chestnuts are probably played out, or at least I know I'm sick of reading about them (the whole working mom thing, for one) but if there's any topic that either directly or peripherally relates to the book or this blog that you feel that people would be interested to read about in a more conventional periodical setting (think: newspaper, magazine, morning program, NPR) I would love some outside input on what people Out There In The World are generally interested in reading/hearing/talking/arguing about. Look at me, asking what real people are interested in, just like a robot who longs to be a man. What does it feel like to have emotions? What is this human concept called you call "love"?

(Also, if you know me and want a pile of these business cards, just ask, because I am probably going to be too embarrassed to actually distribute them. Maybe I should just leave them scattered all over the sidewalks and phone booths in Midtown, like those porno flyers.)


  1. I am sitting here trying to think of something for you to write about while I should be studying for boards and while I'm watching my dog hump her bed. What has my life become on this snow day? Obviously, I will not be a good source of ideas! Haha!

  2. This is definitely self-serving (i'm a surgical intern), but maybe your thoughts on residency and the rights / lack of rights for residents? or maybe a discussion on resident debt? it's pretty shocking to me that virtually nobody outside of the medical community is aware of what residency is from an emotional, social, financial and career standpoint. There was recently a ruling from the supreme court that residents are employees and not students, and therefore obligated to pay taxes of some sort to the IRS. (we already do this, the case was interesting legally and medically because it discussed how to define a resident and what a resident's role is with regards to education and work.)

    or you could talk about how medicine makes you an abnormal person =P the other day, i chugged a bottle of water while on call and thought of it as bolusing myself. it was a sad moment.

  3. Anonymous9:26 PM

    How about the further reduction in duty hours? Resident limits vs. no limits for attendings. Or how about the limited accomodation that residencies and hospitals do for doctor-parents. Onsite daycare would be a good start., although some places have it. Residency in the US vs. Europe? How do the Scandanavian countries get all that training in with less work hours?

    Or how you decided to have a baby during residency vs. waiting until after residency? And what that meant to your life and career (and husband's career)?

    I think the public understands the basics of residency, so delve deeper.

  4. Anonymous9:55 PM

    from outside of medicine:
    I think one of the most compelling things about your writing is the reality behind the stereoype. Doubt, insecurity, questioning, admitting to owning a multi species peed on sofa bed -- the very opposite of what you are expected to be or what people who meet you professionally might imagine.
    Michelle in Iowa

  5. there was a lot of discussion on the blog about vaccines a while back...maybe an article about that and other issues you have to weigh as a doctor and a mom.

  6. How about an ironic spin on the working mom? Focus it around the inappropriate things people say to you when you're female/of childbearing age/in medicine. I feel like I'm constantly asked, "Oh, so you decided against children?" Just because I'm an MD...and then, when I mention, no, I want them, it's "But you're 30...better get a move on" or "but who will raise them?" Although every working mom knows this line of questions by heart, I doubt the general public realizes the extent of get-in-your-business questions people are willing to ask ALL moms, but especially those whose jobs demand almost as much as motherhood itself.

    Good luck with your article!
    Katie in Alabama

  7. Annapolitan10:54 PM

    I think you should take Amy Chua's theme of being an (over)achieving Chinese American and run like hell with it. Right now that idea of the "tiger mother" and overachieving Chinese-Americans has everyone talking. So why not make it work for you, too?

  8. I agree about the residency hours. They don't make any sense to me. Pilots couldn't possibly work those kind of hours so why do doctors? You may not have hundreds of lives in your hands at one time but you do have them one at a time. Don't we want you to be as alert as possible?

  9. Anonymous11:08 PM

    I think you are well qualified and could put a personal spin on "Can A Working Mother Have It All?"

  10. Anonymous11:10 PM

    It has to be something super clever, funny, witty bc it's YOU!

    Everybody and their grandma is talking about Chua's article. Maybe, you should write a response to it?

    OOOR...maybe you could write about residency hours - but instead of saying what EVERYONE would expect you to say, put a spin on it. Maybe, talk about how residency hours DO make sense now.

    It's gotta be something that catches EVERYONE's attention. Something veeeeeery clever. Like Amy Chua. You can think up a better, more interesting, more catchy, and witty article than hers. I know you can!

  11. Kristi11:25 PM

    How about how clinical years in medical school do, or do not, prepare you for choosing your specialty? After all, you changed residencies, so I thought you may have an opinion on the matter. You could also discuss how hard or easy changing your mind was, from an both an emotional and logistical standpoint.

  12. I would love to hear you talk about the myths about women doctors and motherhood. I love your Scutmonkey life of a resident, etc. drawings. I think it would be interesting to outline what people think your life is like (taking baths in tubs of 100 dollar bills) vs. what it is really like (mailing hundred dollar bills to Uncle Sam for student loans).

    You could write about poo, and you would make it awesome. And we would all read it :)

  13. Bring the cards with you to Iowa when you come---there's bound to be some places you can let them lay around! :)

  14. Anonymous12:18 AM

    i dont think the 'general public' has a clue what residency is about. they get internship cause 'interning' is common, not just in medicine. They think of 'residency' in a Greys anatomy way - "so you stay at the hospital late and make out with other doctors and soon you will be paid lots and lots, right-on!" Any kvetching about workload etc seems to bring out such nastiness - the bottom line being "well YOU get paid++" - forget the horrors of trying to be a supermom/career person, try doing that and NOT being able to talk about daily grind things because people hold you to some bizarre higher than possible standard.
    Maybe writing a bit about mommyhood is the way to go still because people can relate to beautiful thing about Amy Chua's excerpt is that it dealt with parenthood - and we all have parents and/or are parents ourselves so we all have an opinon on the matter. and how we were raised/are raising kids. it's a personal kind of article that makes us look at how we see ourselves.

    yes. this is bitter. i'm going in for a midnight shift :P huzzah.

  15. Anonymous2:58 AM

    I'm a journalist so I think I understand something about packaging, and I'm sister to a writer so I understand something about selling. My gut is to stay away from much about residency -- it's too esoteric for most people, and won't strike a chord -- UNLESS you can weave in something about motherhood. You want to make people feel that they share something with you, not that you're really exotic, to sell lots of books, though there's still this fascination with doctors.

    Anyway, I think it should be something about working and motherhood, taken to the nth degree as it is for you by being a doctor and working those hours. What was the latest really hotbutton topic about working mothers? Maybe you could respond to that a bit. Or use it to write something the opposite.

    I'd stay away from "Tiger Mother" stuff because there's going to be an inevitable backlash, as in people saying "that's so boring, we've done that already," and you don't want to be sucked down in that.

  16. For all those fliers and business cards...local cafes/laundromats/community centers usually have a bulletin board of window space for people to promote events, books and classes (at least where i live). If you see things like that, it doesn't hurt to ask the owner as you run errands about town. There's always some bored person killing time waiting for laundry or hanging out in a cafe :)

  17. Though I'm a mere MD and have no experience with professional writing or promoting, I agree with Anon 2:58 about staying away from residency topics---while I would love to read about that, most people not in the medical field wouldn't click on an article about that. But put in the word "parenting" and the world goes ape-shit! Seriously, the articles and blogs that get the most comments are always related to parenting. Somehow this topic really riles people up.

  18. Some of your funniest stuff is when you write about your interactions/conversations with Joe. How about writing about being in a two-doctor, cross-cultural relationship?

  19. doctor mom10:15 AM

    Talk about your view as a mother-doctor on withholding MMR vaccines for fear of allegedly causing autism among the "well informed" educated population.

    Talk about: Guilt and multitasking

  20. Depends on your audience. If you're trying to attract just doctors to your book, you can talk about residency work hours, or vaccines, or changes to health care law... but if you're trying to attract everyone, probably your piece should skew more parenting.

    (Which means "mothering." Which means "work-life balance in medicine." Which means your book will be labeled mommy-lit, and only women will read it. SIGH.)

  21. doctor-mon2:25 PM

    Send those cards to:
    1. Book store at Wellesley College
    2. Student council at Wellesley and your high school.
    3. President of the Asian society at your medical school.
    4. Get a email list of your high school graduate, College graduate, medical school graduate of your year of graduation. Email them with a short note and a picture of your business card/back and front.
    5. Contact te Asian Society in New York City located at 70th and Park avenue. Schedule a question and answer session and book signing when you come to NY for your book party.

  22. Rachie3:17 PM

    Hoo boy I hope you end up on NPR. NPR is my crack-cocaine and it would make my day if you popped up there.

  23. Anonymous4:48 PM

    I like aliendoc's suggestion.

  24. Maybe something NY ---> Atlanta related? Your post about snow the other day was pretty good, and you are technically part of a "phenomenon" of Northeastern professionals relocating to the Sunbelt/the diversification of the South.

  25. Anonymous8:23 PM

    What about something about the beginning and the end of residency. Those stories from the earlier days of residency are funny and interesting. Maybe you could frame them from the perspective of being on the other side as an attending now.

  26. These are great ideas. I'm a big fan of the Modern Love column in the Times' Sunday Style section. something in there about your love story with Joe and the kids and your careers would sell a million books.

  27. Anonymous7:51 AM

    I think talking about being an Internet person/personality and what that does or does not mean to you. The criticism about your parenting, the support from people you have never met personally, the parts you keep secret and the parts that you wish you would have kept secret, the fun of the blog vs. they tyranny of the blog.

  28. Anonymous9:27 AM

    i think a satire would be the an interesting way for you to go-your writing always seems highly attuned to reality and you seem to find the joke when it's on you and bring it out in a really great way. so i am thinking it would be cool to continue with the theme of mom and professional. instead of following in the footsteps of chinese iron fist mom, maybe humorously comment on the fact that you're an awesome mom and doctor without fitting into a certain category-so in a way parallel that but without so obviously piggybacking on her success. i am sort of inspired to say this by your blogpost on what you thought about her book, her article and how you raise your kids and live your own life. use your humor! you're got a great one!

  29. Anonymous11:39 AM

    There are many good ideas here for an article as well as for dispersing your cards. - The Publicist.

  30. Anonymous1:15 AM

    What are Symbiotic relationship advice? Remember that your loved one and
    yourself. At the end of the year, the best he could do in this case sex
    gives him the ego boost that he needs. This new relationship will be based on love and real respect
    not fear.

    Here is my web blog :: buy get him back forever

  31. Anonymous5:57 AM

    The three day where to find a husband diet with fruits and vegetables, fatty
    fish three times a day so the toxins are eliminated quickly.

    Their purpose is to speed up the Marijuana where to find a husbandification and takes care of the
    toxins in your body. Baked potatoes are a good way to remove harmful waste from
    our body, it can create imbalance in the body.

    Here is my blog: webpage

  32. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Batman: Arkham Asylum 10-13 Platinum edition, Grand Theft Auto
    3 like it was something special though it lacked so much of what had developed with Grand
    Theft Auto: San Andreas. But the depth of this game is to be found.
    To solve this, save up a little bit of history or at least over one hundred and fifty licensed cars, as well as numerous other weapons like the flamethrower
    and the iconic pulse rifle.

    Also visit my web blog call of duty world at war poster

  33. Anonymous5:41 PM

    I seriously love your site.. Very nice colors & theme.

    Did you create this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as I'm looking to create my very own website and would like to know where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Cheers!

    Visit my web blog - übersetzung englisch deutsch

  34. Anonymous11:30 PM

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you could do with some pics to
    drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this
    is great blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

    My blog ... übersetzungscomputer test