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Writer, Examine Yourself

By Richard L. Mabry, MD

Is the phrase “Know thyself” in the Bible? No. It was inscribed on the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. But it’s still good advice…especially for writers.

I’ve been chained to the computer recently – not writing another book, but rather doing interviews associated with the release of my medical suspense novel, Critical Condition. Sometimes the questions we’re asked in various interviews run together, and it’s difficult to recall exactly how we’ve answered previously in order to be consistent with what we say. Then again, some interviewers dig deeper and force us to do likewise. And when we’re forced to answer some searching questions, it helps us know a bit more about ourselves.

Let me give you an example. One question I was asked in an interview from a secular site was, “You’re a deeply religious person. What do you feel this adds to your writings?” I certainly didn’t have a pat answer to this question at my fingertips. It caused me to pause and think hard about my response. How could I put into words my feelings without sounding either self-righteous or overly pious? That one took a bit of pondering and a couple of false starts before I got it right. Do you have an answer for that question? No? Then this might be a good time to come up with one.

Here’s another: “What’s the last great book you read?” Like most of you, I read a lot. I enjoy almost all the books I start, but not all of them. And it’s hard to categorize one particular one as “great.” If I do, how’s that going to play with those of my colleagues whose books I don’t name? I finally dug back into my memory and came up with a classic, but even then I was worried about my answer. How about you? What would you say?

Those of you who are still awaiting publication, now is the time to be thinking about the way you’d answer some of these questions. If you keep learning your craft, if you keep your posterior firmly fixed to your chair and your fingers on the keyboard, if every line you write is better than the one before, chances are that someday you will be published. And then it will be your time to come up with an answer to questions like this. “Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters? If so, who won? Can you give an example?”
Critical Condition cover revised
I had an answer to that one. Do you? If not, now is the time to think about it.

Richard Mabry is a retired physician. He has been a finalist for the Carol and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice Awards, and won the Selah Award. His latest book, Critical Condition, is his seventh published novel. You can follow Richard on his blog, on Twitter, and his Facebook fan page.

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7 Responses to Writer, Examine Yourself

  1. I appreciate this opportunity to connect with my fellow ACFW members. Have a wonderful and meaningful Resurrection Sunday. Blessings, all.

  2. Ian says:

    Great questions, Richard. I must admit I would struggle to answer the first two off the top of my head. A “great” novel that I read recently? Wow, yes, I’ve read many good ones but great? Hmmm … I’m still struggling to think of the last great one I read. However, some great non-fiction books come to mind very easily.

    Wishing you a blessed Resurrection Sunday, too.

  3. DiAnn Mills says:

    Excellent, Richard, I find my answers to those questions change as I grow and change with life and my relationship to God. Thank you for the reminder of how important our words are to others.

  4. Whenever I see Doc Mabry’s name on a post, I have to read it. And I’m never disappointed. As for the question of what great book I’ve read I always answer with the same book: Exodus by Leon Uris. I read it in the 10th grade–stayed up all night to finish it. It’s the only book I can remember reading when I was a teenager…or even last year. I figure anything I remember for 50+ years is worth mentioning.

  5. April, it’s not easy, is it?
    DiAnn, I appreciate your kind words and your support as I continue on my road to writing.
    Patricia, I hope this one didn’t disappoint either.
    Thanks to all who commented and a special thanks to those who, like me, prefer to be “lurkers” most of the time.

  6. I would have to say, “no, I am not a deeply religious person. Spiritual, but I do not adhere to a creed”.
    Last great book I’ve read??? Wow, ignoring the many I’ve read several times that are not publically acceptable because of people’s emotional reaction to ET’s I would say: Daniel Isn’t Speaking, by Marti Leimbach. It’s a page turner to the end.
    I am self published with Balboa Press whom I would recommend to any author looking for a way to get their novel “out there”.

  7. Pingback: Knowing Yourself | Nancy Faltermeier