By Richard Mabry, M.D.
For many decades I practiced medicine, taught, wrote, doing my best to be a good person at all of those, while not neglecting my family. Then, about the time of my anticipated retirement from my position at the medical center, my wife of 40 years died. Needless to say, it was devastating. As part of the healing process, I committed my thoughts to paper, mainly as a personal catharsis. A friend, involved in a grief ministry in another state, read them and urged me to publish my journal as a book. Of course, I had no idea how to go about this. Finally, a sympathetic editor at a Christian publishing house suggested I attend a writer’s conference. My attendance gave me the background to rewrite, and eventually get published, The Tender Scar. Perhaps as important, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was encouraged by a couple of recognized authors to “try my hand at fiction.”
I figured that would occupy my time during my retirement, so I accepted the challenge. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well. I eventually wrote four novels over the next four years, and for these I received forty rejections. Discouraged, I decided to quit writing.
Nevertheless, despite leaving the writing world behind, I continued to follow a number of writing-related blogs, including that of Rachelle Gardner. She ran a contest for the best first line, and (to my surprise), I won with the line, “Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled them up.” Through a series of circumstances that I’m convinced were divinely ordained, she became my agent and I resumed writing. It wasn’t long after that time that I got my first fiction contract. Since then, I’ve had eighteen novels and novellas published. All this after quitting writing. I wasn’t through—I just thought I was.
I’ve just published the novella that sprang from that first line I dashed off so long ago. I hadn’t planned on doing that, but the story kept growing in my mind, giving rise eventually to the novella, Bitter Pill. It went through a bunch of revisions, but I think the end result is pretty good. I hope you do, too.
What do I take from all this? It’s pretty simple. You may become discouraged. You may even be tempted to give up. You may—like me—say that you’re too old for all this. But don’t quit. Don’t give up because you’re discouraged. You’re not through yet.
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, both the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the International Thriller Writers, and Novelists Inc. Bitter Pill is his latest novella.He and his wife live in north Texas, where he writes, works on being the world’s greatest grandfather, and strives to improve his golf game. You can learn more about him at his website, and via his blog and Facebook page. He is also interviewed in the May-June issue of the Southern Writers Magazine.