I like things organized. I thrive on putting papers scattered across my desk in order and then snapping them into a 3-ring binder complete with labelled dividers. Sometimes I even word process an index. I have a new one, assembled last Thursday, labelled “Clips.”
The word “clips” has interesting definitions: a sheep’s pelt; a section of film; or, as used by writers, things an author has written clipped from newspapers and magazines proving to an editor this writer has been successful in publishing and her idea deserves a second look.
Inside my Clips book are my efforts that have achieved publication in a variety of public documents: a local newspaper, a writer’s magazine, and a literary publication. A new tab is for a wanna-be: my first submission as a freelancer to a magazine with a health-related focus.
This new experience writing about laboratory testing drew me back into a former life. Recently retired, I spent many years working in all areas of clinical laboratory testing – both hands-on and in management. Last fall, I pitched my idea and years of expertise to a national magazine, hoping my idea would convince an editor to give me an opportunity to explain laboratory test results to their lay readership. I sent a query September, 2012. This February, 2013, I received a response which expressed interest in my proposal and a request for more concrete subjects that this hypothetical article could cover.
Learning about the fiction-writing trade, I have spent the past five years trying to perfect my “showing, not telling” talents. Suddenly propelled into my past, I realized that “telling” was all one did when writing instructions used by employees to follow complex testing protocols. As ideas came to me, I placed calls to an author, a diabetes educator, and several colleagues from local laboratories. I dusted of my edition of Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry and looked on the internet at government regulations for laboratory testing (there are reams of them) as well as the latest in testing jargon. This all jogged my left brain cells back to life. I realized the challenge ahead to accurately write information that would, as this magazine’s Guidelines for Authors stated, be “clear, concise, interesting, useful, and instructive and have immediate application to the day-to-day life of our readers.” Laboratory information can be phenomenally boring. But I dove in. The plot thickens.