Thursday, November 1, 2018

Interview with memoirist Marianna Crane

Writer Marianna Crane is here today chatting with me about her memoir, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers.

Marianna Crane became one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners in the early 1980s. A nurse for more than forty years, she has worked in hospitals, clinics, home care, and hospice settings. She writes to educate the public about what nurses really do. Her work has appeared in The New York Times,The Eno River Literary JournalExamined Life Journal, Hospital Drive, Stories That Need to be Told: A Tulip Tree Anthology, and  Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine. She lives with her husband in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Welcome, Marianna. Please tell us about your current release.
Marianna Crane loved her job working in one of the country’s first programs in gerontology. She felt a connection to her patients and valued her role in their care. But when she herself was not valued for her work, Crane decided to make a change and accepted a position coordinating a clinic that cared for poor, underserved elderly and which was located on the tenth floor of a Chicago Housing high-rise.

Crane knew how to be a nurse, but what she didn’t know, and what her memoir so movingly recounts, is how much beyond her role as a nurse practitioner was required to assist older patients. She found herself planning a funeral, exposing relatives preying on the vulnerable, and hauling a mattress up the elevator. Also, she learned to offer medical care in people’s apartments even when people would not seek it —because care was needed. Most importantly, she learned how significant teamwork is in working with this population.

In Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers, Crane offers readers a compassionate and insightful look into the world of nursing but even more so, she offers readers stories about endearing people, stories that remind us all what it means to human.

Long an advocate for recognizing the invaluable work nurses perform, Crane uses her memoir to give readers a greater understanding of what nurses/nurse practitioners do each day, a perspective that she hopes will increase understanding of the nursing profession.

What inspired you to write this book?
I believe we nurses don’t acknowledge what we do. We rarely write stories about ourselves or our patients. I have a Blog that asks nurses to be proactive and educate the public about our jobs. I decided to write this book to tell about the development of the role of a gerontological nurse practitioner at a time when geriatrics was also a new entity. Unfortunately, most of the challenges I faced caring for the elderly so many years ago still exit today.

Excerpt from Stories from the Tenth Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers:
The slap of bare feet on linoleum caught my attention before a tall, wild-haired man in boxer shorts and sleeveless undershirt appeared in the doorway. 
Dropping my pen on the desk, I shoved the chair back, ready to bolt from the room—except that he blocked the way, breathing heavily, and leaning against the door jam. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t carrying a weapon. He looked so unsteady that I probably could have pushed him over with one hand. My surging adrenalin began to subside. After all, this was a clinic.
“What can I do for you?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I plan to publish a collection of stories that tell about my visits to patients’ home rather than treating them in a hospital or clinic.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I always wrote since I was a little girl. But it was only when some of my stories were accepted for publication that I called myself a “writer.”

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I try not to be pigeonholed into any structured writing behavior. This means I don’t beat myself up if I go for a while without writing. I am always writing in my head.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get my best ideas during the night. I don’t have paper and pen on my night stand since I am developing the idea. The next morning, I seem to be able to remember what it was that was so important.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A marine biologist

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Writing is a wonderful catharsis. And a great way to better know yourself—sometimes not in the best way. However, writing does tend to help you be more aware of your surroundings and explore interpersonal dynamics realizing that as you get older you see the same story from a different view point. Therefore, a story can change over time.


Thanks for joining me today, Marianna.

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