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I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse?by Suzy Becker
P R O C R A S T I N A T I O N
TERRY GROSS (host of National Public Radios Fresh Air): My guest is
Suzy Becker, author of I Had Brain Surgery, Whats Your Excuse? She is
also the author of three other books, including All I Need to Know I
Learned from My Cat, an international bestseller in the 1990s. Suzy,
in addition to being a writer, you are a small-business owner, teacher—
TG: —AIDS bike-a-thon organizer. Writings not exactly a sideline, but
your life isnt the quiet, contemplative writers life some might imagine . . .
ME: I discovered writing at the end of my career as a cat whisperer—
TG: Theres nothing about that in your bio.
I made it up—Im making the whole thing up. Its a form of procrastination, I
guess—making up interviews with myself on National Public Radio when I
should be working on my book.
TG: Im going to disappoint a lot of listeners when I admit I was not a
fan of your cat book—Im not a cat person or a big fan of gift books
in general, or whatever they call that genre. Your new book is altogether
different, not an All I Need to Know I Learned from My CAT
Scan . . .
ME: It still makes a nice gift—[wait, she should say that.]
TG: Its nonfiction, very personal, a memoir of sorts. . . . People may
think, brain surgery—who wants to read about that?! I wanted to
tell you—I could relate to so much of what you wrote about and I
havent even had brain surgery! [We laugh.] You actually began
working on this book while you were still recovering, is that correct?
ME: That draft ended up being more like notes than a book.
TG: Im curious, at what point did you know—when the neurosurgeon
told you you had a tumor and you were going to need brain surgery—
devastating news for most of us—as a writer, was there some
little part of you that said, “Im going to get a book out of this”?
ME: Terry, Im a writer, not an alien. [I AM an alien. Writers dont waste
valuable writing time making up interviews.] I was devastated by the
\ news. As a writer, I think I knew Id write about it as a way to
record the experience, maybe get some perspective, but . . .
TG: So, you were this perfectly healthy person: You were—I should say
are athletic, you play volleyball, do these biking marathons, then in
May of 99 you have a seizure. . . .
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