Thursday, February 5, 2009

Balls in the air

Tomorrow I don the attire of an author at the San Diego State University Writers' Conference. I enter a world full of a diverse assortment of editors and agents and publishers and publicists.  They each have their focused skills and most I believe love to read. I am eager to learn from them and to mix and match with this new crowd. 

I figure if I can get along with surgeons, making fast friends with this bunch should be easy.

Even the required garb isn't much of a stretch.  My patients and students will tell you I tend to the tailoring of the professorial class: jeans and a tweedy jacket. I guess it is because I love to teach and dress the part. I tell my medical students that the straighter you dress, the crazier you can act. I learned that lesson in the 60s, when my long hair in medical school necessitated the most conventional behavior on my part.

While I still can't see patients, I can write. I have just finished two writing projects (a report for my medical group on incentives for doctors doing the right thing, and a one page introduction to my book). Yesterday I took on a medical education program on migraines that's due in three weeks. It normally would take two to three months to complete. With the help of a great colleague and cowriter, I will help develop content for 90 minutes of lecturing. At the same time, I will write the story line and dialogue of two fictional migraine sufferers, essentially a short medical drama to illustrate the teaching points - that is happily resolved in under five minutes. 

Don't we all want to be in a place where all problems are wrapped up by the end of the show, or at worst, by  the end of the season?
The text and powerpoint need to be to the printers in three weeks, and the video will be shot a week later. With show time in Manhattan only a few weeks after that, my colleague and I are also called to be the co-presenters for the first gig where I have quickly sandwiched my lecture between appointments with Drs. Rai and Furman. While on the east coast, I might as well consult my CLL gurus. Let's not forget that my number one enemy has not waved the white flag quite yet. 

After that, we should have the time to train other speakers who will then present to over 4,000 medical professionals in 11 cities between March and June. Hopefully, these docs will stay awake to see my work, enjoy the learning process, and most importantly do a better job of caring for their patients because they attended these conference. 

For that I am called a content provider, and a lecturer. I love it. 

But, if I want to be called an author, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't have that ambition, then I need to write my book. I need to work with a team to get it published and read. I am not so cocky to believe that my words can change the world, but I am not so immodest to deny that they might change individual lives. I will even write in my blog on the writing (would that be meta-writing?)

I wade into these new waters tomorrow.

I may not have the worldly wit or wildness or wisdom of my guiding light, Tom Robbins, but I do have his willingness to not always accept the conventional perception of what is out there, especially if what is perceived stinks.  That is how I approached my battles with leukemia. 

That will be a central core of my writing. 

Talk about balls in the air.



Blogger CLL SPOUSE said...

May I recommend a book? (if not, stop reading.)

If you haven't yet read William Zinsser's "On Writing Well," do! It'll be a boon to you no matter what you write, but especially as a nonfiction writer. I'm currently working my way through it again. It taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of things. I am always grateful.

p.s. Your observation "the straighter you dress, the crazier you can act" - absolutely correct!

February 9, 2009 at 4:31 AM  

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