It is hard to believe, but today marks the six-month anniversary of my blog, StorytellERdoc. Including today's, I have posted 72 short-stories since November 19th, 2009. I look at my archive, the comment sections, and the number of cool visitors that have visited "my baby" and simply shake my head at how things transpired to get to this point.
Thank you, everybody.
I remember the first time my writing group mentioned the possibility of me starting a blog. We were sitting in Marcy and Christine's living room, getting ready to critique our submissions for the week, when I shared a funny work story. "You need to start writing these down, Jim," they said. "Yeah, right," I thought to myself. I am not a blogger. I had visited multiple sites, both medical and generic, and, although some were brilliant, I simply didn't see myself fitting into this world.
My wife loved my writing group's idea. "Jim," she said, "you haven't seen a blog that you would mimic because either you haven't found it or, more realistically, it doesn't exist. Make your blog by your own rules."
Hmmm. That seed of an idea slowly took. I started thinking of stories that affected me during my medical career, and it wasn't long before I realized the common denominators of those stories most important to me.
Number one. Compassion. Or lack thereof. In today's medical world, I sometimes get frustrated at the lack of compassion and awarenss in regards to both the medical and non-medical issues. It seems that we must move patients, at times, like cattle. See more, bill more, don't spend as much time in each room. Bullshit to that, I say. Behind every face is a story, and shame on all of us if we don't take the time to recognize those stories. Why must we avoid humanizing a patient who is already human? I wanted to bring some heartfelt emotions back to each patient's case.
Secondly, the power of some of my patient stories are simply that I strongly associate their perspective with my own life. A Mother's Cry? I have three kids. Grandpa's Grandkids? I loved my grandmother greatly and couldn't imagine seeing her die in this manner. The Complacent Eyes? My son spent two years of his young life on chemotherapy--I know those eyes well. Heroes Among Us--both Gigi and Linda? How amazing to look at someone and their approach at life only to realize that, at some point, I may have taken a misstep or two down the "for granted" pathway. These stories hit their mark on my heart.
Thirdly, the underlying humor of some patient scenarios just, plain and simple, crack me up. I love a good laugh as much as the next person. If I can't laugh at the ridiculousness of some of these work encounters and life experiences, I am in for a long, boring haul. And a short career, actually. Among others, Double Crack, The Thong Expert, Meeting Candy, The Half-Load Predicament and It Wasn't Me! can take me immediately back to that moment where I find myself cracking up all over again.
Finally, what I am most proud of, are my stories of the ordinary. Sometimes, these remarkable stories sit among the muck of normalcy and boredom and, when I finally dig them out, make me want to jump up and down and share them with the world. An example? A Love Story. When I saw that son helping his father down our ER hallway to the bathroom, I wanted everyone to stop what they were doing in our ER and look at what I was witnessing. Instead, at the time, I only shared it with Weezie, one of my favorite secretaries, before writing the words to give this scenario a life. Big Stuff, Big Words, The Fringe Benefits, and This Father's Daughter walk along the same lines.
After deciding what perspective I wanted my blog to take, I put my fiction novel on hold and attempted several short stories. I submitted them to my writing group, appreciating their honest feedback. My biggest critic, though? Easy. My wife. My awesome, incredible typically-normal every-reader wife. I would hand her a story and nervously watch her read it from the corner of my eye. Her tears, her laughter, and the "yes" and "no" nods of her head told me all I needed to know about a piece.
Armed with about twenty stories and a committment to try to post three days a week, I finally decided to give this a go. The name was settled upon and, after a breakfast date with Christine, a design to my blog was decided. She graciously and unselfishly set the blog up for me, including the incredible banner. Big kudos to her. I joke with her that she missed her calling.
Finally, I had to write a profile about myself. Have you ever done this? After confusing myself more and more, I finally just sat at the computer and ripped it out in five minutes. What you see is the unedited version. After the final sentence, "I am a writer," I was tempted to include "I am not liking this self-profiling bit at all."
After my writing group and wife gave a thumb's up to my first, introductory story, the day finally arrived for posting it. I was filled with self-doubt. What was I thinking? Why was I wasting my time? And who would want to read my words, anyway? If I could only get twenty people to read my stories, I figured, this might all be worth it.
I walked up to my computer and sat down, hovering my right index finger over the left-sided mouse button. The computer arrow sat over the "Publish Post" button on my blogspot page. A simple click and I would be officially entered into the blogging world.
I couldn't do it. I wasn't sure if I was ready to "put myself out there." I looked down at my quivering finger. I took a deep breath. I reread my first post, desperately trying to find any grammatical errors or content problems. Trying to find any problems that would warrant stalling the process. I reread the post, again.
Finally, I looked at my trembling right hand and decided to quit being a wimp about it.
And from that quivering finger and subsequent click, here I am.
A few changes have come over the past six months. Now, I write most of my stories the day before they are posted. And no critiques to them (well, occasionally my wife will still get first dibs). They are, for the most part, in their rawest, unedited form. I no longer check comments and my email every hour the first day of a posting. I don't follow my visitor numbers and stat counter nearly as often as I used to. A naturalness and inherent comfort has begun to settle in.
I want each of you to know that it has been my privilege to write this blog. Seriously. It has been incredibly humbling to think that someone would actually take time from their busy day to search out my site and read my words. If there were an award for the coolest, most honest, intelligent, and faithful readership, you, my friends, would get it. To those of you who have blogrolled me (including my very first ones, Blisschick and Seaspray) and reposted my works on your own site, a special thank-you.
Finally, as I have said before, the friendships are easily my biggest gain from this whole experience. You all hold incredible, memorable stories, and I appreciate you giving me a glimpse into your lives and bringing your kindnesses into mine.
Funny how things work out. I have always loved to write and, until a few months ago, never pictured my outlet to be in this shape and form. Thankfully, others saw this as the perfect avenue for my words. You're involvement is making this a worthwhile journey in my life.
As always, big thanks for reading. And bigger thanks for helping me reach this milestone. Much appreciated. Next post will be Friday, May 21. See you then...