After 20 years in the medical writing business it feels great to share stories and motivate others to try their hand at medical writing. There are many fields of entry with a relatively simple code--the ability to communicate technical subject matter with clarity and purpose.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on the proposal for my first traditionally published book. You can follow the process over on my blog, http://www.alzheimersdiseasethebrand.com. As far as client work, I am writing network analysis reports for a phase III drug. A really innovative and informative way to include a variety of data in practice decisions within medicine.
Who are your favorite authors?
I mainly read nonfiction but I am a big fan of Joan Didion, both her fiction and nonfiction. I am reading Karl Ove Knausgaard as well. I tend to jump around several books at one time but like to read entire canons of work to see the evolution of the writer.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I transitioned my writing career toward autonomy, driven by my specific interests. I take on client work but the real inspiration is writing about an idea that coalesced overnight. I want to get it on paper to see if it is a thing or not. I also have a high energy Treeing Walker Hound that likes to run and run. I am a triathlete so there is usually a bit of training that needs attention although Fred the hound makes running a huge priority!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Ha! I often share the real truth about being a writer--how much time you actually spend reading. I read hours each day. News feeds, journal articles, books, whatever I need to research a seed of an idea. I run for hours at a time a few days a week and look forward to my stockpile of podcasts and occasionally music on shorter runs or when I am on the bike trainer.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Many nonfiction books that I read are e-books from the academic library. My iPad allows me to read from my bike trainer or while traveling. My suitcase would never make it onto a plane if I had to lug along all the books needed to write my blogs and books!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember being in maybe 5th grade and having to create a story from a list of words. The teacher thought my story was clever but corrected the name I had given a fictitious business. I had named it The Iceberg and she said it was actually called The Berg. As you can tell this edit continues to haunt. I became aware of how writing is distorted by rules all through our formative years. And then suddenly, quite magically we are told there aren't any rules...
What is your writing process?
I collect ideas from art, podcasts, books, and design. I read voraciously on all topics and then sit down and begin writing. Strangely I work out a lot of what I want to write in my head before writing a word. On a daily basis I devote the early morning to business aspects of writing. Global client communications, blog entries, social media, and a workout before any of the creative bits happen.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Perhaps not the first story but the Little House on the Prairie books had me hooked into the full spectrum of storytelling. They were so vivid and it was easy to spend hours and hours reading about half-pint and pa!
How do you approach cover design?
Currently I pick images that have a significant meaning. Both of my book covers are photos from the road. I hear that they may not be the most marketable but I like covers that are pleasing to the eye. I am willing to sacrifice the gimmicky listicles and loud marketing message in favor of finding others with my sensibility. We will see how that goes!
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Most writers aren't looking for platitudes or step by step guides to their craft. A shockingly honest portrayal of wild-but-true stories about writing in the evolving landscape of medicine--immediately useful insights from the crossroads of health policy, health economics, and clinical medicine.