To Unappreciated Writers Everywhere

I’ve worked as a medical transcriptionist for the last ten years or so. That means I listen to and transcribe reports dictated by highly educated neurologists, and I do this six days a week. For all their degrees, doctors are incapable of putting together a sentence that actually, well, makes sense. I edit and correct all day. I make them sound good. I correct spelling, grammar, and syntax. I have to catch and correct mistakes the doctor makes, like stating the wrong drug or confusing the site of the patient’s pain (left foot or right?) Yeah, they do that. A lot. My reward? I get paid 0.0475 cents a line. Yep. So at the end of a long day, I’ll earn maybe $40.

There’s a basic lack of appreciation among doctors for what I do, as if cleaning up their messes should be its own reward. It isn’t. It’s actually rather demeaning. Doctors are an arrogant bunch; and let me tell you, they gripe about every penny they pay me. I do the work because it pays a couple of bills (barely). Unfortunately, since I’m currently back on a six-day work schedule, I’ve lost the time to do my own writing. I don’t think I’ve worked on a story for at least six months. I miss it. Even writing this blog once a week or so means I’m making some rich neurologist wait for his report.  Poor bastard. Let ’em wait.

Spring has finally sprung here and it won’t be long before I can sit out on my porch after dinner and do some writing. The day job ends at 5:00 p.m. The real job starts after I clear the kitchen table. My writing bag, my portable office, sits leaning against the wall where I left it at the end of the summer. I’m not really sure what’s in it. What did I start working on? What crazy ideas were kicking around in my head? I’m looking forward to the surprises I’ll find. Maybe there isn’t anything new in there, but there’s always the purple box of index cards sitting dust-covered on my desk. It never disappoints.

What an insane life we’ve chosen! Toiling away, surrounded by people but traveling alone along roads they can’t see. There are new faces, predicaments, and worlds to describe into being. You and I, we get to do that. In creative mode, the potential agent or publisher is of little concern to us. We know the creatures that inhabit our imaginations. We know where they need to go and how they’re going to get there. At this stage in the creative process, all the decisions are ours and ours alone.

No doubt there are a couple of empty plastic folders inside that writing bag, empty plastic folders that are busting at the seams with promise. I don’t know what stories they’ll hold at the end of the summer, but there will be something wonderful to show for my time on that porch.

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