End Of Summer, End Of An Era

In two days time, I will close the doors on my chiropractic practice for good. The week leading up to the finale has been busy. On Friday, one of my first patients will be my last and she and I are going for lunch to celebrate. On September first, when people ask me what I do for work, I will tell them I am a writer.

Being a chiropractor for 23 years has helped me become a good writer of fiction. How is that possible? There are several ways:

  • I hear about people’s lives, their jobs, their families and what they like to do for fun. This gives me a deep reservoir to draw from in creating characters’ basic details.
  • Truth is really stranger than fiction. My patients all have stories to tell. Some of them give me ideas!
  • As a doctor working with people who are in pain, you learn to develop empathy, to stand in their shoes. This also helps develop characters. Especially, the villain of the story who a writer may not fully explore. But I have found that even the scoundrels have a reason for why they do what they do.
  • I have had to learn to be a good communicator. People in pain are emotional, scared and sometimes even angry. Being able to explain, console and reassure is absolutely vital on the patient’s first visit. Good communication means being concise, not muddying the waters with overly complex and/or technical terminology. This is also the goal of the writer. Unless of course you are writing a technical manual!
  • Last but not least, I have had to actually do some writing. I’ve written countless reports for insurance companies, attorneys and claims adjusters. You learn a certain writing style in composing letters and compiling examination findings. While this doesn’t translate directly to fiction writing, it does give you practice in consistency and flow.

I cannot say whether or not I will miss being a chiropractor. I can say that I am excited to begin the next chapter of life. After a little vacation planned for next week, I will return to my war story with renewed dedication this September. And I will work at it as my full time job.

Happy writing and productive editing!

Small Cuts (17) James

To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is more about James:

Jessica Dean: Finally tonight on Eyewitness News at 6:00, a follow up on the fatal accident that happened on the Vine Street Expressway last Sunday morning. The crash left one person dead and another in critical condition. There is an added layer of tragedy to the story, however.

Ukee Washington: That’s right, Jessica. It turns out the two drivers knew each other. In fact, the male driver who was killed was the best friend of the female driver’s husband. James McAvoy, thirty-six of Bucks County, was attempting to merge onto the eastbound Vine Street Expressway in heavy traffic when, according to witnesses, the vehicle driven by Genevieve Sinclair, also of Bucks County, suddenly changed lanes and struck the other car on the driver’s side. Mr. McAvoy was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs. Sinclair remains in a coma and in critical condition.

Jessica Dean: Oliver Sinclair, Genevieve’s husband, had met James McAvoy in college. The two remained close ever since. They had been best man for each other at both of their weddings, the two couples often vacationed together and according to their spouses, had just had dinner together the evening before. Neither James nor Genevieve was supposed to be on that road that day. According to Mr. Sinclair, his wife Genevieve had no plans to be in the city that morning, but must have decided after he left. He could only speculate on her reasons for coming. “She liked to visit the art museum. She often came alone so she could take her time,” he told reporters.

Mrs. Elaine McAvoy told us her husband was supposed to be on his way to a golf outing sponsored by the law firm he works for. Mrs. McAvoy says his detour into the city must have been to stop at his office for some reason. His colleagues at Fletcher, Sunderland and Roth couldn’t shed any light on the matter. It seems fate dealt the two couples a cruel hand. The funeral arrangements for James McAvoy will be held privately, but donations can be made in his name to the Philadelphia Legal Aid Fund —a cause he supported as a lawyer in the city.

Ukee Washington: Mm mm… What a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families.

***

I have used the real names of the evening news anchors at Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate Channel 3. I have done this without their knowledge or permission. I hope they don’t mind! When and if I publish or submit to another media outlet, names and other existing entities will be changed.