Guest Post — Richard L. Mabry M.D., author of Guarded Prognosis

20 Jul

I am pleased to welcome Richard L. Mabry, M.D. to the blog today. Dr. Mabry is my go-to author for medical suspense. His latest book, Guarded Prognosis, just released a few days ago. Make sure to check it out (it is FREE for those of you with Kindle Unlimited!). Thanks Dr. Mabry for sharing with my readers today.

BLIND TO OUR FAULTS

How many times have we seen something, either in real life or fiction, that causes us to say, “How could they not have seen that coming?” At times this occurs in books, TV, or the movies in order to advance the plot. When that happens, it requires a bit of “suspension of disbelief” but we accept that as necessary. On the other hand, in real life wouldn’t the individual involved have seen what’s going to happen? Not necessarily. Why? Because there are times and circumstances when we’re subject to a common failing — we tend to go ahead with “what always works,” blind to our faults in the matter.

Unfortunately, none of us — including authors — are immune to this problem. Writers who have been involved in critiquing manuscripts submitted at conferences and contests are familiar with novels that fail to meet standards. Almost without exception, these have gained glowing praises from the author’s friends and family, but that is unfortunately often based more on the amazement that “So-and-so wrote a novel” than on the merits of the book. None of us likes for someone to critique our work, but in my view constructive criticism from someone who’s familiar with the basics of writing is much more valuable than praise based on personality.

Let me give an example from my own writing. I don’t participate in a structured critique group. It’s not that I don’t recognize their worth, but for my personality and method of writing it works better for me to depend on the opinion of my first reader —my wife. I have described her before as both my biggest supporter and most severe critic, and I have learned to listen to what she says. Thus far, our marriage has survived. I showed her a completed copy of my most recent novel, and after reading fewer than a dozen pages she informed me that it didn’t really capture her interest. Then she made some suggestions that would improve the novel but require lots of work on my part. After pouting for a few days (chocolate may have been involved in my recovery process), I sat down and began to completely rewrite the novel, taking into account her suggestions. 

Apparently, what she recommended worked, and I’ve received numerous compliments on the revised novel from authors and informed readers. This has happened more than once with me. Why? Because, like many other authors, I was blind to my faults. I thought I could skate through by just throwing words onto the page. I wanted to rest on my laurels.

Guarded Prognosis is my twelfth published novel. Along with my non-fiction book that got all this started —The Tender Scar — and four novellas, that’s seventeen books (in addition to eight medical texts) that bear my name. When I tried to put this novel together, I’d frankly grown complacent. I was like a professional athlete who felt that he can win simply by showing up. But most of us are familiar with the maxim that any team can beat any other on any given day. The same applies to authors. We’re only as good as our current book, and the only way we can be certain it’s the best we can do is through evaluation by others who are knowledgeable in the field.

Whether it’s writing, teaching, managing a company, repairing an air conditioner, or any one of a thousand other occupations, we have to do one thing to reach and stay at the top of our profession. We have to constantly improve ourselves and our work product. We’ve never “arrived.” The day we think we have reached that point is the day when the consumer will let us know we haven’t. 

Have you suffered the consequences of being blind to your own faults? Did you find yourself resting on past accomplishments? How did you correct that (assuming you did)? What have you done lately to continue improving? 

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Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” His previously published novels have garnered critical acclaim and been recognized by programs including the ACFW’s Carol Award, the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and its Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. Guarded Prognosis is his twelfth published novel.

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