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Love, Loss, & Community: Reflections on Writing The Rebel

Writing “The Rebel” has been a deeply personal and transformative journey for me, one that spans several years and numerous life changes. This novella is more than just a story of revolution and unrequited love; it’s a narrative deeply rooted in the complexities of community, personal identity, and the human spirit.

I’d love to share with you some of the themes I explored and how writing this story grew out of my own struggles as a first year emergency medicine resident. 

Themes of Revolution and Oppression

At its core, The Rebel is a story about revolution and oppression. The world of Loren, much like our own, is fraught with conflict and power struggles. Neval, the protagonist, embodies the spirit of rebellion against an oppressive regime. His journey is a reflection of the universal fight for justice and equality. This theme was inspired by both historical revolutions and the modern-day struggles I witnessed in the ER, where every patient had their own battles against the systemic injustices of our world. I dove deeper into this topic in a recent blog post about the themes of revolution and rebellion in fantasies such as The Rebel.

The world of The Legion of Pneumos itself has rich historical parallels and real-world influences that have shaped the themes of revolution and oppression. I explored these parallels extensively in a recent blog post on how the expansion and eventual fall of the Roman Empire inspired much of the worldbuilding in The Legion of Pneumos universe.

Unrequited Love and Community

One of the most poignant aspects of The Rebel is the unrequited love between Neval and Tegan. Their relationship is a testament to the powerful emotions that drive us, even when they go unfulfilled. It’s a reminder that love, in all its forms, shapes our decisions and our destinies.

But beyond individual relationships, The Rebel is fundamentally about community. Neval’s status as an outcast, both because of his family history and his dyslexia, highlights how communities can shape us for better or worse. Social rejection, something Neval experiences profoundly, literally affects our brain chemistry, triggering the same pathways as physical pain (what can I say, I’m a science nerd at heart🤓). Understanding the biological impact of social dynamics gave me a deeper insight into Neval’s struggles and resilience.

Community, in its many forms, is a powerful force. Neval’s journey is shaped by his interactions with others—both the support and the rejection he faces. This mirrors our own lives, where the communities we are a part of profoundly influence our paths. Whether it’s the tight-knit bonds we form with friends and family or the broader social structures we navigate, our communities can be a source of strength or a hurdle to overcome.

Personal Reflections

I started writing The Rebel way back in my final year of medical school. But, the demands of finishing my degree and applying to residency forced me to set it aside. It wasn’t until my intern year of residency that I finally felt the call to pick it back up again. Makes total sense right? Wait until you start working absurd hours on no sleep and add writing a novella into the mix. 😂

But there was just something about this story that wouldn’t leave me alone. 

A boy who no one believes in standing in defiance of an uncaring world, bolstered only by the strength of his friends and his own determination to carve out a new path for himself and become a leader that no one expected.

Intern year is so hard and makes you question yourself in a thousand ways – Am I smart enough? Can I do this? Should they even trust me? Do I trust myself? And all the while, amidst that doubt and indecision, you’re faced head-on with how tragic and painful and impossible the human experience really can be. The ER is where it all comes together. The tragedy, the hope, the complicated family dynamics—all of these elements found their way out of my own lived experience and into this story. And in writing them out, this story helped me make it through that year.

That said, writing during residency has been easy feat. Balancing the grueling hours of medical training with the creative process can feel impossible at times. There were nights when I was too exhausted to write a single word, and days when a particularly moving patient encounter would reignite my passion for the story. The support system of fellow residents, all of us new “baby doctors,” equally terrified and inspired by the work we were doing, was a lifeline. Their camaraderie and our shared experiences were a constant reminder that we were all in this together, even when faced by seemingly impossible odds, much like Neval and his companions in The Rebel.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from this journey is the importance of perseverance. There were countless times when the end seemed out of reach, or I questioned who could possibly want to read this story. But pushing through those moments of doubt is ultimately what got us here, with a beautiful tale of resilience and the power of community. Each character’s journey in The Rebel is a reflection of this perseverance, a testament to the strength we find within ourselves and from those around us.

As I look back on the journey of writing The Rebel, I am grateful for the challenges and triumphs that came with it. The story is a piece of my heart, infused with the lessons I’ve learned from my patients, my friends, and my own personal battles. It’s a tale of revolution, love, and the indomitable human spirit, and I am so excited to get to share it with you.


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