Before I decided to pursue a second career as a professional author, I reflected upon my desire as a young child to become a physician. I had no role models. My exposure to medicine had been limited to vaccinations and obligatory school physicals.
In medical school, I learned the aphorism, ‘see one, do one, teach one’. I observed my supervising physicians, duplicated their actions, and subsequently taught other medical professionals the same techniques.
After receiving an invitation from author Kellye Garrett to join Crime Writers of Color, I chose to model her behavior and become an active participant in our writing community. When Sisters in Crime requested volunteers, I joined the Education Committee. Following a tutorial from Lisa Malice and Chris Goff, I hosted my first webinar. It did not go well, but my fellow Sisters in Crime members supported and encouraged me to continue. Through volunteering, I learned about the writing process, met interesting authors and made friends.
Later this year I will circulate my own newsletter. In spring 2022, I will self-publish my first mystery novel. In the not too distant future, I will share my experiences with other aspiring authors.
Only you can define success, but it cannot be obtained in isolation. I encourage you to find your community. By supporting them you benefit. Take advantage of any opportunity you have to volunteer. Through the examples of our predecessors we grow, gain mastery and flourish. On my journey, I utilize the resources of my community to make straight the precarious path I trod.
Capitol Crimes encompasses people from a variety of backgrounds, educational levels and cultures. Reach out to your fellow readers, writers and authors. Move beyond fear and attain your publishing goals.
There are different mediums available from traditional publishing, self-publishing or serial publishing on platforms like Substack and Patreon. No one can write your story. Add your voice to the kaleidoscope of published stories and enjoy the fellowship.
Published in the July 2021 Capitol Crimes Newsletter.
This article appeared in KevinMD, a leading platform for physicians and other medical professionals to share insights and stories founded in 2004.
I can write. Four years at the University of California, similarly at medical school, and three in residency taught me how to master the skill. Divorced with limited education and fewer resources, my mom struggled to raise six kids. She told me the most important thing she ever did was teaching me to read. It became my passion. As a child, I spent afternoons immersed in Perry Mason, Sidney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, and Ellery Queen books—anything I could find. But I didn’t imagine becoming a professional author.
Writers were hermits who lived in seclusion, leaving their fortresses of aloofness only to bring forth glorious pieces of literature. It was a fantasy. In school, I devoured history and math, struggling to understand how to support myself with the former and master the latter. Despite my meager finances, I recognized medicine was my destiny. Decades as a physician, however, choked the creativity inside my core. From HEDIS metrics to patient scores, that gifted imagination waned. According to Merriam-Webster, a writer is an author, and an author is one that originates or creates something.
Twenty-five years later, fantasy morphed into reality. The internet became indispensable for my education. Resources like Authors Guild, Sisters in Crimes Guppy Chapter and Alliance of Independent Authors replaced the American Academy of Pediatrics and Medscape as invaluable sources of information for this new career. I volunteered to host webinars for writing groups and in return gained knowledge about the business. First step, decide if writing should be a profession or recreation. If I wanted this venture to replace my primary income, it would need a professional approach. As in medicine, I studied not anatomy, pharmacology or physiology but grammar checking software, literary agents, and publishing.
Writing would become my second career. Medium, Mailchimp’s Tinyletter and Patreon are examples of platforms where authors can publish articles. However, I preferred the novel format, and after two years of planning in May 2022 my debut mystery, Murder is Revealing will premier. Though I intend to pursue traditional avenues in the future, right now self-publishing aligns with my ambitions.
This dream required time to blossom, influenced by my medical experiences and providing my craft with a distinct voice. By incorporating your particular life journey into writing, the reader experiences a unique individual perspective. Determine your writing desires, conduct research, and bring your story to fruition. Whether a hobby or occupation, it can be a rewarding exercise providing insight and adventure, an outlet to release frustration or escape grim realities. Write, the possibilities are many.
In the summer of 2018, I left a lucrative job in clinical medicine. My departure had been a precipitous, unplanned escape from a toxic environment. Without the burden of a demanding job, I relaxed and reflected, writing more in six months than ever before in that time.
Before the year ended, I completed a novel over 100K pages. My knowledge about publishing was minimal. A friend bought me a book on how to get published, directed primarily toward traditional publishing.
One afternoon CapRadio aired an episode of Marketplace regarding social media, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Afterward, I read posts on writing blogs and sites like Reedsy about social media for authors. After weighing the different sites, I set up an account with Twitter and reviewed posts from writers, agents and publishing companies. They agreed a social media presence was important for authors, and each platform had individual strengths. Though Twitter posts can be inflammatory, I find it easy to manage and less stalking than Facebook.
Whatever social media site you choose, establish an online presence to connect with authors and readers. Resist the temptation to set up a presence on multiple sites. Consistency is important, and life is unpredictable. Do not commit to more than necessary. Set high but reasonable expectations. Stress inhibits creativity.
Whether self-publishing, traditionally or serially on platforms like Patreon, deliver a consistent product to satisfy your audience. Writers coordinate with editors, book cover designers and marketers—to name a few. Weigh the added responsibility of social media, and remember to respect your brand. What you post on social media remains part of the internet stratosphere. Give a second thought to everything you post before hitting send.
Published in Capitol Crimes August 2021 newsletter.