Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"There's no reason to shoot at me, I'm a dentist."

I do not have a fixation with teeth.  I do not own stock in Colgate.  I just happen to think the occasional deep thought while applying fluoride to my chompers.

You go to the Dentist and she says, "You do a pretty good job brushing.  Your front teeth look great but you need to work on the back teeth more - they have a lot of tarter.  Do you floss?"  Of course you don't floss.  You don't have time to floss - you need to jump straight into the brushing. The more honest folks will admit this to their Dentist.  Others will think, for some strange reason, that they can lie and the person who went to medical school, who looks at mouths all day long, and knows what a flossed mouth looks like, will be fooled. 

As an aside, let me just say that you aren't fooling anybody.  Even really good liars aren't really that great.  Amazing liars though, they are pretty good.

The next time you go to the dentist, she says, "You do a pretty good job brushing.  Your back teeth look great but you need to work on the front teeth more - they have a lot of tarter.  Do you floss?"  You over compensated and were still in too much of a hurry to floss – a requirement for her approval.
This Dentist had flames on his car - "The In-Laws", 1979

Writing is a lot like brushing your teeth.  It won't make your breath fresher, but if you do it every day, twice if you can manage it, you'll have a brighter smile.  You'll also get a lot better.  But don’t be in such a rush to write that you forget to outline.  It shows if you do (or if you don’t).

When I was somewhere in the vicinity of 12, I wrote a short story and sent it to "Dragon" Magazine - the only magazine in our school library that was buying speculative fiction.  It was rejected with a form letter that stated, “You are worthless.  Be gone.” - but it also had a handwritten note that I should work on dialogue.  So I worked on dialogue (very short version of the story).  I had another rejection that told me I should work on action.  So then I focused on that.  But I didn’t outline anything.

I picked up some books about writing.  "Work harder on character."  "Work on plot."  "Work on authenticity."  Every book seemed to offer something different.  It was overwhelming.  In fact, the only advice that seemed to stay consistent was "Make sure you write an outline before you start."  It was also the only wild red herring goose that I didn’t chase.

Good dental health is not assured by flossing, but every dentist everywhere, even the 1 dentist that doesn't recommend sugarless gum for his patients that chew gum, thinks you should floss.  There's a reason for that.

What's holding you back from flossing - er, outlining?

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