By this stage of my writing career, I thought that I would be cranking out bestsellers every year and movies based on them would star Meryl Streep or George Clooney. I dreamed of being famous. I dreamed of respected articles that made a difference. Or at least getting my independently published novel, A Distinct and Separate Feeling, sold by now. (my attempt to explain the separatist movement in Quebec via an adult contemporary romance. 250 pages, some with some damned good loved scenes if I say so myself. $12.00 includes shipping in the US. Barter considered as well. If you’re interested, leave me contact info in the comments section and I’ll give you further instructions.) (I can sign it, too!)
However, reality played out somewhat differently. The assignments I’ve received have been varied and very interesting, certainly. I’ve written about tractor racing, bake-offs, consignment shops, journaling, dream interpretation, and how to make your own bread among other things.
I have also written web content for a medical supply house. Not for the faint of heart, but varied enough to keep my attention and service oriented enough to placate my altruistic streak. I have written about stethoscopes, some really fun equipment for special needs kids, and the defibrillator units kept handy in public places such as train stations. I had a great editor who was and is funny, gentle, and supportive when giving feed back. No matter how many times the litany of service gets chanted–“this will help someone, this will help someone”–there just are assignments that will bring a writer to his or her knees.
Like rectal thermometers.
Yes. Rectal thermometers. I had an assignment where I had to describe what differentiated them from oral thermometers (taste wasn’t mentioned); discuss the circumstances that mandate taking a patient’s temperature via the backdoor; advantages of digital readout and mercury filled; and metal or plastic-coated comfort tip.
I researched the material in on-line nursing journals. I looked at the manufactures’ websites. I assembled the material into a good solid article, reread it, then emailed it to my editor.
When I hit the “send” button, I swear to everything I hold sacred that something snapped in my brain. I felt something break. You may have seen cartoons where a length of elastic or a rubber band has been stretched to its limit, breaks, and snaps back, forming a snagged and snarled ball. That’s what it was like.
I ended up leaving the job shortly afterwards. I truly enjoyed working with the editor. I really loved the other writers. But the brain damage from the piece on rectal thermometers took a long time to overcome. It took months before I could string together a coherent sentence of any quality.
Somehow, after reading, and reading a lot, and journaling and blogging a lot, the ability to write and write well came back. We’ll see how this gets applied.
It’s another example of how everything turns out all right in the end.