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?”
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.