Monday, March 26, 2007

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Last week was a week for doctors.

It was the kind of week and the kind of doctors that bring puckers of distaste to the faces of most male patients.

Relax, the nurse said drawing the obligatory blood samples. The worst part is--she giggled--already behind you.

I nodded at the joke. Except for the waiting, I ventured.

Now it was her turn to nod. You're in a doctor's office. You should expect to wait.


The worst part turned out to be over, indeed before I'd even reached the Sansum Clinic and submitted to the rigors of medical investigation. Getting out of there, a few pages describing the procedure I'd undergone, the doctor's findings or, if you will, lack of findings, seemed an excellent prelude to being able to take in food and drink again after a twelve-hour abstinence and some chemically induced cleansing activities. In what culture, you ask, are persons with clean bowels to be trusted?

That was then. Today I saw a doctor on more of an evened-out playing field. He had come to see me. He was my client.

You realize, don't you,he said after we discussed the revised pages he'd emailed me, we both do the same thing. We diagnose and then we prescribe and, he laughed, we may even proscribe.

True enough, I'd used medical terms when giving him the news. Talking heads.

No bodies attached? he asked.

Pure attitude and information, I said. Reader feeder--dramatic information the writer wants the reader to have, but does not dramatize.


Promising. We've come a long way from the last draft.


A little weight loss, some conflict, plenty of ambiguity. Try withholding information that seems like propaganda.

Aha, a laxative!

Needless to say, he is a delight to work with. And he has given me something to think about. If your manuscript seems a bit listless, take plenty of liquids, add some conflict, withhold information. Read. You can never read enough.

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