La Jolla resident Diane Schneider’s memoir “Lives on Brown Cards” looks at memorable patients she has encountered in her years as a physician — and the lessons she learned from them. An excerpt, “Killer Bees” earned her a spot as one of 10 winners of the San Diego Memoir Writers Association’s (SDMWA) fifth annual Memoir Showcase Competition (see box for winners list).
This year’s contest theme was “I Didn’t See That One Coming,” and almost 200 submissions were received and reviewed by a panel of judges. The 10 winning submissions will be featured in the upcoming San Diego Memoir Showcase, at which professional actors bring these stories to life. The pieces will be performed before a live audience, 4 and 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach.
“It is an incredible honor to have ‘Killer Bees’ chosen as one of the 10 pieces to be performed,” Schneider told La Jolla Light. “I am excited to have such a wonderful opportunity. I hope anyone interested in memoir writing — or reading — will attend the performance.”
Inspired by “memorable patients under my care just after I completed medical school that changed my life and provided valuable lessons about individual’s humanity,” she said “Killer Bees” is a chapter that describes the unexpected loss of a young patient and her family’s surprising response to her death.
“Although the events occurred 35 years ago, these experiences remain burned in my memory,” Schneider said.
No stranger to writing, as part of her medical career, Schneider wrote research and academic papers. In 2011, her consumer guide, “The Complete Book of Bone Health,” was published. It promotes optimal bone health for all ages and circumstances, according to evidence-based research.
But this is her first experience in memoir-writing.
“Over the years, I wanted to write about different experiences I had as a physician,” she said. “Two years ago, La Jolla author Lannette Bloom (‘Memories in Dragonflies: Simple Lessons for Mindful Dying’) introduced me to the SDMWA, which fosters a community of memoirists. During a year-long memoir-writing course through San Diego Writers, Ink in 2018 under the tutelage of instructors Marni Freedman and Tracy Jones, I began my first memoir project about coming of age as a newly minted doctor at a large, urban Southern hospital.”
Schneider said her biggest challenge in the process was reducing the story with all its elements into a five-page double-spaced submission, in accordance with SDMWA limits.
But, she said: “Everyone has a story to tell. I encourage anyone who has thought about writing a memoir to start writing! Classes, like those I took at San Diego Writers Ink in Liberty Station, is a good place to start and become part of a wonderful community of writers for support.”