**Note to self: MAKE SURE YOU ENTER THE CATEGORIES AND TAGS BEFORE SUBMITTING A POST! ARRGH. Also, find out why the heck WP always messes up my formatting!**
I’ve been pondering what to do with my ‘book’, Canary in the Coalmine. And I would LOVE some input from other writers out there. This is my first attempt at writing non-fiction, that wasn’t a research paper. I have read all the ‘how-to’ books and am sorry to say that I find them useless… it seems as soon as those books are printed, they are obsolete.
One of my biggest flaws as a writer is that, while writing is therapeutic at times, for the most part, unless I am writing fiction, it feels more like pulling off an old band-aide. That aversion has been one of the toughest parts of writing “Coalmine”. Admittedly, I dreaded it and most of the time had to force myself to sit down and work on it.
If it weren’t for my husband’s urgings, I would not have bothered citing and background-checking my random journal entries and article attempts. But, I knew that if someone were to read my story, written by someone not in a medical or health profession, that they would immediately question my authority on the subject. So, I endeavored to prove that I understood and comprehended far more than I was given credit for. If I were not able to walk that fine line, this book then would have two unfortunate effects:
- For the researchers and clinicians, it might show what I didn’t understand and they would completely dismiss it.
- For the laypersons, if I made it too exact I would risk losing their attention.
When I had a completed draft, I gave it out to two friends and my sister to read.
I was completely flustered by the responses. I expected the friends (avid readers) to point out areas where they didn’t understand things or needed clarification. For my sister, being 3 years older than me and still prone to exerting her dominance, I expected (and secretly hoped) that she would shred it from beginning to end, pointing out each, individual, flaw in excruciatingly explicit detail.
What happened instead was this: My sister was the only one to read it in its’ entirety. My friends, at least from my limited leading question time (which was quickly shifted to other subjects), evidently did not even read past the third chapter.
Admittedly it was a ROUGH DRAFT. I warned them of that fact. But the only advice I received was grammatical (one of the friends berated me for some run-on sentences). I smiled and thanked them for their input and didn’t bother to inform them that grammatical editing did not occur until the FINAL draft. The other friend nervously offered that it was ‘good’ and with some prodding made the suggestion of adding a section on “how” we changed our diet and were able to stick with it.
My sister, well, she LOVED it. She chuckled and pointed out stories I had shared about the girls’ experiences. She was helpful and corrected me on some family history I was unaware of… it was surreal. And I didn’t quite trust it. Was she setting me up, like that time when we were little and she said, “Now… I will sit here… and, you… you… um… sit, right here…”? That experience had yielded a strip down and dunk into a bathtub filled with ice cold water (ice cubes added) to get the fire ants off of me… and days of alcohol rubdowns and calamine lotion.
What was going on?
At the next doctor’s appointment, I finally got tired of re-telling and re-explaining what and how we were managing the diet at home. The doctor had even requested extra blood tests that to an untrained eye would just seem routine, but I happen to know for a fact that 2 of the tests, besides showing liver and kidney function, also show if a person is consuming enough calories and nutrients. (i.e. they were checking to see if I was ‘starving’ my kids.)
So, I offered to send the dietician and the geneticist a second draft of the book.
The dietician was kind enough to apologize, that she had only made it through the first 2 chapters, but that she thought that it was well written.
The geneticist said with apprehension wavering in her voice, “wow, you put a lot of work into this…”
Both behaved somewhat like they were handing a piece of meat to a hungry lion. A little nervous and afeared for their life.
Was my writing that offensive? Was it just too raw? I asked the geneticist and she assured me that the writing was ‘really good’.
However, I got the sense from everyone, except my sister, that I was wasting my time.
In an attempt to walk that ‘fine line’ I spoke of, I had kept it honest and to-the-point. I even kept the cuss words. Because anything else, just seemed fake. I couldn’t pull off sounding like an expert, but I couldn’t play down the emotional aspect of the experience either. In fact, the emotional aspect was the only platform that I was completely qualified to maintain.
The fact that the diet worked, and is still working, for something that the medical establishment still immediately prescribes medication for? That seems a no-brainer to me… and should automatically relegate to the ‘interesting’ file, especially for researchers, clinicians, dieticians, and even other patients in a similar situation.
So far, the only thing that writing this book has helped, is that the doctor, dietician, and geneticist talk TO me now, and not at me.
Should that be as far as it goes? I know that it lacks a continuity… but I can’t seem to bring myself to work on it any further.
Input is appreciated.