Hello and a very warm welcome to the third post in the My Writing Process hosted on this site. Last week, Larry Farmer talked about his book, The Kerr Construction Company, available from Amazon.com. Read his post here.
Today, I’m very pleased to welcome Michael T Curd, another fascinating and unusual writer, to the blog hop.
Thanks to Frances Evesham for hosting me on her blog site and giving me the opportunity to talk about my writing. Also, thanks to Larry Farmer ‘70, a fellow author and Aggie Bandsman from days of yore, for introducing me to Frances. He can be reached at her blog site.
What am I working on?
I am currently marketing my first novel, Through the Valley, published by Mirror Publishing, Milwaukee, WI. What I have learned is that writing the manuscript is the easiest part of the process! Once that’s done, the work begins. I am extremely grateful to Neal Wooten, Managing Editor and his staff for all their help in getting the book published. I will be attending several professional cognate conferences as a vendor to sell TTV this spring and summer. In my spare time I have begun the sequel which will be entitled: Life, Death and Grace. Or maybe not.
How does my work differ from others of the same genre?
I really don’t know because I have only been able to find one other novel about hospital chaplaincy. I readily admit I am not website savvy and may have overlooked a number of great works. I do know my sixteen years in both military and corporate healthcare at several levels of the system has enabled me to have a wide perspective of the day to day lives of chaplains and those they serve. Having been ordained for forty-three years and being a psychotherapist for forty of those has also added different ways of understanding life in medical facilities.
My book is set in San Antonio, Texas and I’m a native of Ft. Worth. I have tried to reflect our unique culture along with some Texas history. I think it adds to the book and creates opportunities for patriots-in-exile, living in other states and countries to have the chance to “go home” if but for a little while in their minds.
The culture of the military also significantly influences my writing and that tends to distinguish the book. Healthcare shares many aspects of the military, such as the twenty-four hour clock, chain of command, life and death situations and very high cost for errors or failure. Both require the ability to function in highly stressful environments for long durations. These cultures are juxtaposed throughout the book.
Why do I write what I do?
I have never liked reading text books or professional “How To” works even though I have a few publications in professional journals. I once tried to read a college text on sexuality and it was boring! So, when I got tired of trying to explain to healthcare administrators, physicians, nurses and other medicos what a clinically trained chaplain can and does do, I decided to write a novel to enlighten the masses. I like reading novels.
I have always believed the adage, “Write about what you know.” When I was a young pup in a military hospital, I read The House of God by Samuel Shem, M.D. His impact on healthcare and me has been significant. My favorite author is W.E.B. Griffin and I have read pretty much everything in paperback he has written. I think the influence of both authors, along with a bit of Texas twang from Dan Jenkins, can be seen in my writing.
There continues to be a considerable amount of confusion about how chaplaincy is value added to the medical setting and why it is so essential in the continuum of mind-body-spirit healthcare. I tried to address that issue in my writing and will expand it in the next novel. The “war stories” are autobiographical, composites and/or come from the experiences of other clinicians with whom I have had the honor of doing ministry.
My mother was a “practical nurse” when I was a kid and I have always had a love for healthcare providers. When someone tells me they are an RN, their credibility increases one hundred fold. My friend, Ch (LTC-RET), U.S. Army, Mark Gruebmeyer said it best, “A trauma room is the closest thing we have to combat in a peace time environment.” I’m an adrenalin junkie. What’s not to like when I’m writing about healthcare?
How does my writing process work?
Most of the time it doesn’t, or at least it doesn’t seem to. When I started writing TTV, I limited myself to doing so only when I was on an aircraft or in a terminal. I was in corporate healthcare then and traveled quite a bit. The last five years of my active ministry, I was the solo pastor of a United Methodist church in a small, rural town in Nebraska. I did almost no writing then, except when I was in Hawaii visiting my son. That’s where I finished the last two chapters of TTV, fifteen months apart.
I usually just sit at the computer and start writing, given that I have a story and/or issue in mind to share and the time do so. I don’t write every day. The first, and only, chapter of my second book was written in February of this year. I haven’t written sense then. I have a long list of potential stories and issues to share. The mechanics of writing and my limited computer skills gets in the way of a flowing stream of consciousness, which is my favorite way to write. At a recent workshop, provided by Dr. Becky Breed and Lucy Adkins I had an epiphany; writing by hand is much more creative and is easier for me. I plan to experiment with that for chapter two. So what if no one else can read my writing?
Through the Valley: on sale at Amazon.com
Neal Wooten—grew up on a pig farm on Sand Mountain in the northeast corner of Alabama before being dragged kicking and screaming to the snow-infested plains of the American Midwest. He now resides in Milwaukee with his wife and three dogs. He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, columnist for the Mountain Valley News, Op-ed writer for the Walking Dead Fan Club, cartoonist, artist, and standup comedian. His website is Pages of Wonder