Archive for the ‘book tour talks’ category

A Circle be Unbroken Moment with The Tar River Boys at the Kinston Neuse Regional Library

November 13, 2011

        This weekend was my first book signing/bluegrass picking gig since I got sick. I don’t see how it could have been a more appropriate venue. It was an “old home week/Circle Be Unbroken moment” as I got to visit with my daughter then be on the stage with Dr. Peter Temple and the Tar River Boys for the gig. Peter was my first community medicine mentor and the man who showed me how to combine medicine and music and not compromise the quality of my work as a doctor. He always said I was his only student who made an “A” in both medicine and bluegrass. Back then he had a front porch jam session with guys like Greek, Junior, and George every Wednesday night. As you can imagine, I was never late for class!

        Neuse Regional Library in Kinston is a library with a plan. Young David Miller has regular programs and gets the word out. It was well attended and the crowd was enthusiastic; just the kind of book signing any author hopes they will have. We had a retired English teacher and the long-time promoter of the Kinston Winter Bluegrass festival. (She saw the review of the book in N.C. Our State magazine and recommended the library get in touch with me) There were several musicians, friends of the library, and a number of docs. Several of the doctors were my classmates. There was a neurosurgeon, a pediatrician, and OB/Gyn, an interventional radiologist and  two Family docs.  

        The gig was just the kind I like, very informal and interactive. I’d read a passage from the book, then we’d do a few tunes and I’d explain how the music was connected to the story. Who knows, maybe “The Cherokee Shuffle” will wind up on a movie soundtrack before it is all over.

        So, special thanks to David Miller at the library, and also to the Tar River Boys. Dr. Temple was a life changing mentor for me way back when. As far as I know, Dr. Temple and I are the only two doctor/bluegrass pickers ever featured in N.C. “Our State” magazine.He invited two of the Tar River Boys, witty song-writer/mando picker Roger Sauerborne and precision banjo man Buddy Zincone, who also picks with Greenville Grass to join us. It was a fine session. Most of all I send thanks to my wife who makes all these gigs work these days. I could not manage it alone.

       We tied this show in with a library card drive. If your hometown library wants to get new people interested in the library in a public awareness campaign, esp if you’d like to join me for an impromptu jam session, let me know. I am limited to about one show every other month for now, and need to stay within a hundred fifty miles or so of central N.C. but I’d love to do  more gigs like this one. As Dr. Temple would say it was a large time.

Dr. B


Four Part Harmony, Part IV: How to Promote Your Work on The Internet (And Beyond)

May 8, 2011

        Again, I must give credit where credit is due. Some time before we secured a publisher, my agent recommended I start a FaceBook page. And again I said, “What’s that?”

        He said after the book was published FB would serve as a vehicle to promote my writing. So I did what any old guy would do. When we went to visit my daughter I asked, “Sweetie, what do you know about this new FaceBook thing?”

       She rolled her eyes and said, “Daddy, For Heaven’s sake.” Then she guided me through the process. She did not do it for me. As she observed, “You can’t learn if you don’t do it yourself,” but she was far more helpful than if I’d been on my own with “FaceBook For Dummies” if that book has been published yet.

        What do you post?” I asked. I took a look and noticed some folks would write-up that they were gonna get a pizza or watch T.V, and I didn’t see why anyone would want to know about that.

        “”Post about what you love,” she said.


          “Well, some of that is okay, but you don’t want to post anything too personal. this thing is read all over the world.”



        I slept on it, and the next morning when I woke up a song played in my head. (This had been going on with me long before the emergence of the personal computer.) I went to my new page and posted the song on my mind as my FaceBook as the “Song of the Day,” and have ever since. Some of the songs tie back to “The Mandolin Case,” but most do not. When the book was published my agent and publisher got together and created an official “Mandolin Case” fan page. People came to visit. Many were old friends I’d played music with over the years, but there were new ones too.

        Here’s a favorite story. I became FB friends with a gentleman named Dean Eaton. He was from Massachusetts. We had never met in person. My wife and I were at the IBMA awards show in Nashville and by chance a man was assigned to a seat next to us. I heard him mention bluegrass in the state of Massachusetts and looked over his way. Lo and behold I recognized him. It was Dean Eaton. I leaned over and asked, “Say you’re from Massachusetts? By chance do you know a Dean Eaton?

        He was quite surprised. “Why yes. I am Dean Eaton. I inhabit his body!”

        I introduced myself and we all had a big laugh. We went out to dinner later in the conference and Dean became a fine friend. Harnessed correctly Facebook can be a powerful tool to meet like-minded people. 

        Going back to book promotion my agent has always said the book title has to be in front of people at least six times before it will have name recognition, and FaceBook kept it there every day. And I love the Song of The Day. I’m gonna wake up with a song on the brain anyway, so I might as well share it.

        My agent also worked with me to create a Mandolin Case” website. A number of readers have ordered the book off the website via Amazon. I gotta admit though it is more static than the blog and I enjoy the interactive nature of the wordpress community. Here the link to the website  You might want to read about The Journey of the People’s Mandolin, a traveling testament to the power of music. The last I heard it was out on tour with The Grascals, one of the top bands in the biz. (They got their start as Dolly Parton’s backup band and still cut some tunes with her)

        Between Facebook and my blog, I can keep readers posted when I am gonna be in their area for a book signing. In keeping with my life philosophy, I like to do these events where I think it has a chance to help someone else. My agent is an expert at harnessing local media for events. We always try to team up with some other party who could use the book as a vehicle to promote their cause. Through his efforts with radio and TV I have been able to co-promote with favorite bands, charities ( a very important one in bluegrass is MACC, or Musicians Against Childhood Cancer) book stores, music festivals, coffee shops, record stores, high school bluegrass clubs and English classes, music shops, and new Barbecue joints. (I am well fed on this tour) 

        We have also interfaced with the world of academic medicine. Early in my journey, my agent ran across a call for essays for  a country doctor compilation by a Dr. Therese Zink. I recognized her name as a JAMA contributor. Via my agent I submitted an essay, and it was one of several selected from across the country. She is on a N.C. tour next week and we are gonna co-promote the two projects. At least for me, book promotion is the most fun as a “connect the dots to find the cool people” venture. 

        I limit my outings to one a month as I don’t want it to interfere with the doc gig. I’m now booked thru 2011, and will post as I go. I now have one tour sponsor, TKL Cedar Creek Custom Cases, and others who might also get involved. Tom Doughtery of Cedar Creek read “The Mandolin Case” and thought it was a perfect fit for their company. They are building me a custom mandolin case and co-promoting my book at their tour stops. We were at MerleFest together last week.

       Another use of the Internet for me is to simply cruise through the WordPress Dashboard and click on blogs that seem to hold some interest for me. If someone writes in a style I like, or if I learn something that helps me in my writer journey, I leave them a note to that effect. Comments are like applause at a show and every writer I know enjoys the feedback. My agent always said my readers would teach me to write and over the years the wordpress community has been a major force to mold me.

        It helps to have a “prop. My agent knows one writer who writes Civil war history who tours around in a Confederate General outfit. Another is an expert on Mediterranean history and goes on cruises in that part of the world to lecture on his specialty. Hm. Not a bad gig there. I might have to do a bluegrass cruise. For George Burns the prop was a cigar, but I figured that wouldn’t do for a doctor. Mine is my mandolin of course. My wife gave it to me for my 45th birthday years ago. It isn’t a vintage or collectible instrument but it means a lot to me. It is about the only material item we own besides our home that I have an emotional attachment to.

        So my mandolin goes to all my book signings. It is part of me, and was one of the inspirations for “The Mandolin Case.” So far, I have played a few songs at every book gig. People don’t forget some gray-haired green (and blue) eyed doctor who plays a little bitty guitar.

        We have plans for a library promotion in Kinston, N.C. this November, my last gig of the year. My wife loves the holidays, plus we have a grandchild on the way, so I stay as close to home as possible at the end of the year. I like the idea of a library promotion. I figure if I’m in the art biz I might as well promote the arts and “The Mandolin Case” has drawn significant attention to programs that deserve the recognition. Glamor and glitz get enough mileage with me and don’t need my help. (“Glamor and Grits” by Sam Bush, now that’s another matter) I believe the arts can empower us to be better people, and that all great societies should support the arts. Part of my mission is to show young people there is more to life than power, money, and greed. I hope they will see this old doctor who has invested a significant part of his life in the arts. While it didn’t yield a great sum of money it generated enormous tranquility. You can’t take money with you anyway, so it can only do so much good here on Earth, (I agree the essentials are necessary) but I believe tranquility will follow you on into Eternity. My book has yielded me much tranquillity. 

        So there it is. That’s how I promo “The Mandolin Case.” My agent and publisher have a lot of biz savvy. I have to concede my part of it is not very fancy. But that is consistent with who I am and I’m satisfied. The book is too quirky to become a big pop culture item and that’s okay. It has made me a bunch of friends, and is dead solid honest. That’s all I wanted out of it, and I am content. I have more projects on the way, and have the same fundamental aspirations for them.

        So to all who have a book in the works, all best wishes. Hey, maybe you will leave me a comment as to your project. You never know. It’s like my agent said a long time ago, if you write it, one day someone might just read it! Good luck and don’t forget: the book world belongs to the persistent. 

Dr. B

Four Part Harmony, Part III: How to Get Published (At Least How I Did)

May 1, 2011

        After I secured an agent I had a notion I’d get published in time. There aren’t many absolutes in the writer biz, but I think it is true without an agent it is very difficult to get a publisher. The publishers know if you have an agent a certain amount of the screening work has already been done for them. It must have some potential or the agent wouldn’t be involved.

         The day I secured an agent was somewhat like the day I got a notification by mail I had passed Part I of National Boards. That step is about half way through med school, and back then was the final hurdle. If you passed it, you were gonna be a doctor. After I had an agent I knew it would take time, but felt like my book would see it to print.

        First I thought I’d share some thoughts with you on what I am not an expert in: self-publishing. Because I didn’t go that route I can not write with authority but I believe there are excellent self-pub options available these days such as I hope a reader will comment as to their experience with self-publishing.

        There is nothing wrong with being self-published. I wanted to go to press with a publisher if possible because while I enjoyed writing I had no idea what I was doing, and knew I would need a lot of constructive criticism to take my manuscript to a higher level. If one has that kind of feedback available in a writing group and an experienced editor, self-publishing might work out just as well. 

        After several more revisions, most of which were driven by my agent’s suggestions, he decided it was time to shop around the MS. We again faced some rejections. One said they only published one work of fiction each year and declined. Another liked the story and gave it a lot of thought. They finally rejected it because they were afraid “bluegrass people won’t read.”

         I have to admit that only threw down the gauntlet for me. It made me mad. As Coach Cliff Searcy said, his teams often played a little better when they had a chip on their shoulder. My agent did some research and found out a recent book of that publisher sold 3,000 copies. There’s nothing wrong with that number, but the bluegrass battle cry became “3,000 or bust.” 

         One day a small publisher became interested. They felt it needed a professional edit before they would make a final commitment, so my agent launched into a search. I wasn’t scared of constructive criticism. If Mark Twain needed an editor, I knew Tommy Bibey did. He narrowed it down to ten he thought would work, and the two of us both went over those resumes and pared the list to three.

       “Which one should I choose?” I asked.

        “You’re on your own now, pal.” He went on to say he wanted to help guide me but the final decision would have to rest with me. He recommended I interview each one by telephone. I kept an open mind, but I wanted a female if possible. My agent was a man, and he was great, but I wanted the perspective a feminine point of view would add to the story. As I have always said, my favorite bands have at least one lady singer in the group.

       Each of the three finalists were excellent. They all had extensive experience with publishing companies and had worked with some pretty famous writers. Each one of them felt the MS had the potential to be a national level book from a new Southern writer, and said they would like to be part of the journey. All also indicated they never took on any project unless they were convinced it had artistic merit. As I talked to these experienced editors, my faith in the book and my ability as a writer began to grow. 

        I liked each one and I’m sure any of the three would have been fine, but there was something about Dorrie. (She’s on my blogroll; Dorrie O’Brien) Part of it was she had a special interest in first time authors, and that was me of course. And I liked her process. She promised she would go through it chapter by chapter and make recommendations and then have me re-write it to see how it struck her. I didn’t want a ghost writer and she assured me she wanted no part of that either. She also indicated my voice was so unique if anyone else wrote any part of the story the passage would jump off the page as not authentic anyway. I can tell Darin, Wayne, or Alan’s mandolin style in three notes. It just jumps off the radio into my car. My family and office staff have read my notes for years and all say they know it’s me right away. As I always say, “Gotta be who you are ’cause you can’t be anyone else.”

         Here’s my favorite vignette to explain the working relationship with Dorrie. There was one scene in the book when Martin Taylor and Bones discussed the case in terms of golf metaphors. Bones swung an imaginary golf club, and Martin Taylor analyzed his swing to make his point.

        Dorrie found this a bit implausible. “Why don’t you have him with a real golf club in his hands?”

        “Heck Dorrie, men in offices all over the country swing an imaginary golf club all the time. That’s what they do.”

        Dorrie replied, “Perhaps so, but you have to remember most of your readers are not golfers. You must write this in such a way that a middle-aged housewife in Dallas, Texas who has never been on a golf course will get your point.”

        I rewrote the passage and said something like this: ‘Bones asked, “Do you want me to go and get a club? I’ve got one in my car.”

        Martin Taylor replied, “No. Hell, boy use your imagination.”

        With that modification, Dorrie let me have my scene. But you had to negotiate with logic. She wouldn’t buy it when she knew the reader wouldn’t. Dorrie was excellent.

       After Dorrie, the project picked up steam. The publisher was satisfied, and took it on. They put it through a line edit for typos and their graphic artist went thru several layout revisions. We all argued back and forth for days over items as simple as the subtitle before we settled on “Country Doctors, Honest Lawyers, and True Music.”

        Finally the day came. We were at the Strawberry Park with the Lehmanns. The publisher over-nighted the proof to us there. I opened it up on a picnic table right outside our rented trailer. Jr. Sisk, one of my favorite bluegrass singers, was one of the first people to sign it. A young lady named Lisa Husted happened by, saw the commotion, and stopped to visit. She read the author’s note and opined a perfect quote on the spot. “I hope the world heals exponentially through your beautiful understanding of the healing power of music.” I asked the publisher to add the quote in the second edition, and they agreed.   

         I knew right then the book was gonna make it cause the true bluegrassers got it as soon as they read the first few pages. I soon came to realize that others not familiar with our music would also come to understand the fundamental truth I hoped to convey; we must always put the interests of the patient first, regardless of how much duress we are under, and music can help us do that. Lisa is right. Music has the power to heal, and gives us a way to help other human beings regardless of what kind of work we do. You don’t have to be professional musician (or writer) to help people with your art.

        I was published and on my way. And I’ll admit it made me a bit misty-eyed. It wasn’t as important as the day our children arrived, but it was a pretty big day.

        Oh, one more word on the “3,000 or bust” mantra. A young lady named Kathy Boyd of the band Phoenix Rising of Portland, Oregon read about this on FB and reserved copy number 3,001. It went out to her some time back, and I assume it is still on her book shelf. And I just gotta take one last dig at the prospective publisher who didn’t think bluegrass people would read. There is no way he could ever hear Phoenix Rising and know of their fine music and extensive charity work and hold to such an opinion for long. These are sophisticated, bright, artistic young people and the bluegrass woods are full of many others just like them. 

        I’ll be back next Monday with Part IV, or how to promote your work on the Internet. Talk to ya then.

Dr. B

Four Part Harmony, Part II- How I Became a Writer

April 24, 2011

        The old adage you can’t get published until you have some published articles on your resume is true. It’s like the classified ad for a job, “Only experienced workers need to apply.”

       So how do you get experience if you have no experience?

       My answer is “write about what you love.” It will take time but after a while someone will pay attention. For me, writing came through music. As a kid I played guitar to meet girls. Once I met my wife there was no need to chase girls and I put it aside except to play for her. I used to sing to her but she married me anyway. Later that same voice would put our kids to sleep at night. It worked without fail!

        After I heard Tommy Edwards and “The Bluegrass Experience” and met Dr. Peter Temple in med school, I fell in love with bluegrass. I gave up rock ‘n roll (for the most part) and sat in on Dr. Temple’s Wednesday night front porch bluegrass sessions. Soon I took up banjo. After I got out into medical practice I became a mandolin player when ours left for Nashville and we couldn’t find one. I was a sensitive boy and the doc gig could be hard. I worried over the patients. I began to write. Most of it was focused on the music I loved and that had saved me from going too crazy under all the pressure.

        A funny thing  happened. I wrote an article in the local newspaper for a band, and they liked it. When people showed up at the concert because of my article, the band liked it even more. I got some gigs doing liner notes and CD reviews. I developed a bit of a regional reputation as a guy who knew the genre and would write articles for a modest fee. (try free!)

        One day we were on a trip to the mountains to see my son. I saw an article in an Asheville publication for a Mr. Howey who advertised his services as an editor. I was already at work on “The Mandolin Case,” and took him some excerpts. His fee was reasonable and I learned a lot for those early edits. I asked him if he thought it would ever be published. I recall his wry smile. “Patience my boy, patience,” he said.

       Mr. Howey was a veteran of the newspaper biz and editor of a magazine called the Laurel of Asheville, and also wrote an award-winning book on Freckles, the famous pet therapy dog. He counseled me that writers can’t get in a hurry. I figured he’d been around a while and was a survivor in the writer biz, and that he knew. I listened.

       About this time I started a search for an agent. My daughter gave me a book called “How to be Your Own Literary Agent.” The author made it clear he did not accept unsolicited queries, so I sent him one right away. I wanted to go ahead and get a rejection under my belt. I’ve still got it somewhere in my files. I wrote back to thank him for his time and that I’d appreciate it if he’d hold onto my resume.

        After that with every query letter I informed them I was unsigned at the moment but some of the biggest houses in New York had my file under consideration. (The man never wrote back to say I didn’t, and besides I was in training to be fiction writer. ”Show the truth, tell no facts.”)

        I sent some out queries without enough research. One told me they liked my work but were looking for writers of romantic fiction with a chick litty voice. I have not one thing against romance writers, but my wife got a big laugh out of that one. “Honey, you’re a lot of things but chick-litty isn’t your gig.”

        The one wrote and said they liked the MS but hadn’t taken on any fiction in a while because they lost money on their last two projects. They recommended another person who turned out to be out of the biz, but they knew someone who knew somebody who they thought they knew another guy who might have interest. After a series of e-mails, I had a contact e-mail address. I wrote him.

        He looked over some of my work, had me edit a few stories and then assigned a book report on “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.” I was good at book reports as a kid. I remembered all the little blue ribbons. I summoned up the best I had from deep in my gut.

        He agreed to an interview.

        I met with him and showed him some early drafts of “The Mandolin Case.” He liked my work, but knew it was still rough. Looking back, I think he saw me like an inner city ball player. I could run, shoot, and dribble, but he had no way to know if I’d take to coaching,

       “Any advice?” I asked.

        “Yes. Start a blog.” he replied.

        “Whats’ a blog?”

        The agent went on to explain. “Your readers will teach you how to write. Besides, if you can’t attract an audience of readers there is no reason for me to represent you.” He didn’t sign me but I was sure he had at least some interest.

        I started the blog in 2007, and it began to grow. As my potential agent predicted, I learned from my readers; folks like the Lehmann’s, chili, Cindy, slightly, Felix, Jel, and many more.

       One day Mr. Howey called from the Laurel. His music writer had just resigned.”I need an article on “Bluegrass First Class” by Monday. Are you up to it?”

       I jumped at the opportunity. ”Sure, Mr. Howey. I know the promoter and all the bands. I won’t have any access issues. But I gotta be honest, I’m not a pro writer yet. I might need some help.”

       “Son, that’s why you’ll have an editor. That’s me.”

        The article was success. BGFC sold out. (Not just because of me I assure you; it’s a great show every year.) Suddenly I was a published and paid writer; my definition of an author.

       I figured up 15% of my check and sent my potential agent that share even though I was not signed yet.

       He called. “What is this check for?”

       “I landed a paying gig. I read where the standard fee for a Lit agent is 15%. That’s your share. I’m gonna send you 15% of everything I make as a writer until you tell me you won’t be my agent.      

       The sigh was audible. This guy has no quit in him. He gave up and sent me a contract. I took it to an intellectual property rights lawyer in the city who found it 100% legit. I signed it, had it notarized, and returned it, then told my new agent the same thing they told Bill Monroe when he joined the Opry. “If you want to leave you’ll have to fire yourself.” I added, “And if it ain’t good for you it ain’t good for me. We’re in it together.” He’s been my agent ever since.

       We were on our way. Next Monday I’ll tell you how I got my book published.

       It takes a long time to get started but once you become a writer it is a gift for life, just like playing the mandolin or the doctor gig. Once I experienced the birth of that first book, I never wanted to quit, and now have more projects in progress. Birthing a baby is very hard, (my wife is the expert on that, not me) but getting there is so much fun folks keep doing it, which is why the world is unlikely to run out of babies or books any time soon. (God had all this figured out; humans made a mess out of it.)

       One last word of wisdom. In every relationship I get into, and this includes being a writer, I try to think why it might be good for the other party and do that. (If I write will someone’s life be better for what they read, will folks enjoy a music show, will a publisher sell more magazines, will my agent see a few dollars etc) I never worry about me. It comes back to me anyway. God and my wife and kids always look after me so I don’t have to worry about myself. If you figure out how it will help someone else and you are confident as to why it will do so, it’s mighty hard for people to turn you away for long. If they do reject you, once they realize you are helping someone else they often change their mind.

       Talk to ya next week.

Dr. B

Four Part Harmony Part I

April 17, 2011

        This post goes out to KC who asked if I’d share some of the thoughts from the recent ADK teacher session on “The Mandolin Case,” titled “Four Part Harmony.” Part I is today, and I’ll post one every Monday for a month to complete the series.

       Part I was “Why I Write.” I’m reminded of a college Philosophy exam. It had one question. “Why?”

       One student answered “Because.” He got an ‘F.’

        Another answered ‘Why not?’ He got an ‘A.’

        So I guess I’ll stick with ‘Why not?’ My motivations were multi-factorial, but they fell into three general categories.

        The first was simple enough; writing made me feel young again. Back in grade school the teachers would have us write stories, and I often was awarded a blue ribbon. After “The Mandolin Case” was released and so many people liked the book, it brought back those same feelings of validation I experienced so long ago. Stories made me happy as a child, and I guess adults don’t outgrow the desire to be accepted. My world accepted me, and it was fun.

        It’s strange, ’cause in my work as a Doc you do make a difference, but it’s my job. I have a moral, ethical, professional, and legal obligation to deliver the goods even when I don’t feel good myself. If you lose your muse in the Doc gig you’d better find it PDQ or else become mired up in a heap of big-time trouble. (Someone asked what my speciality was and I said, “Staying out of trouble, and I’m real good at it.”)

        As a writer it seemed different. I was under no obligation at all; I just wrote because I believed I had something to say and wanted to share it. When my book got good reviews it made me feel like the kid with the blue ribbons again. I’ve often said with art you toss your heart out there and see if people stomp on it, but they embraced it. I was both touched and humbled by the response.

        The second reason was a sense of immortality. We don’t have any real immortality except in Eternity of course, but somehow I could envision that my writing would allow my ideas and dreams to live on beyond my time. One of the dominant thoughts that drove me was one of my kids as old people in the nursing home reading to a grandchild on their knee. The child would ask, “Was great-grandaddy really like that?”

       They might answer, “Well no, I think he made that part up.” Then they’d flip to another page and say, “but now that scene at the Bomb Shelter is real ’cause I was there.”

        Already our family stories live on. My son is a helicopter pilot and a paramedic, and my daughter is a sophisticated University young lady. They were both raised in part by middle-aged bluegrass pickers. When they tell their stories, their young friends think they must have made them up, but the stories are true. Our way of life lives on in them.  

        Maybe a hundred years from now some kid will find my story on a dusty book shelf, read it, and decide we had such a big time that they needed to make art part of their life, too. Perhaps long after I’m gone a weary doctor will realize others have been there before and find some comfort in the pages.

        The third reason was practical; my survival. All I ever wanted to be was a simple and decent man;, a country doc with a wife, 2 1/2 kids, a dog, and a picket fence life who got to play some music on the week-ends off call. I found it wasn’t always so simple. When I began to write about Indie he showed me how to make it work. You remember his line? “It doesn’t take any special talent to be wicked. Anyone can do that. But to be a decent person requires creativity to the point of art.” I wanted to be decent, but also not be trampled on in this hyper-competitive modern world. Indie, through the process of writing about him, showed me just how to do it.

        I have several more projects in the works. but if I never got anything else done in the art world, that reward alone would be more than enough. Through writing I developed my strategy. Now if someone sets out to do me or my people wrong I just smile and wave a matador’s red cape in front of a brick wall. I tell ’em I don’t think I’d charge on through. 80% of them have the good sense not to, but 20% run headlong smack through the cape and into the wall and then get knocked out.

        When they come to they ask, “Why did ya go and do that?”

        My response is always the same. “I dunno. Read the book.”

        I’m as imperfect as anyone else, although I hope I was a decent man before the book. But writing took my life philosophy to another level. It yielded a hard-fought tranquility that is mine for the rest of my days. As Irene Lehman said, “When a man writes like that, there’s a reason.” Through the process of writing I solidified what was important and true to me and why it was so. And it was more reward than money can ever buy. As a writer, I found every little bit of me, and realized I liked me just fine, imperfections and all. If anyone out there is still searching, writing ain’t a bad way to find yourself.

        And it’s a fun journey.

        I’ll be back next Monday with Part II, “How I Became a Writer.”

Dr. B