As we near the date of Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course (March 14 – 16), I’m excited about seeing colleagues again and even meeting some of my current clients whom I have not yet met in person. I recommend the course to almost anyone writing a book about health or well being—it’s a fabulous place to meet agents and publishers—and to learn so much about the publishing industry in a short period of time.
Authors get feedback about their book ideas—and often end up with a much better sense of both what their book is (what I call the book concept) and what they need to do to become successfully published.
Today, I’ve interviewed Dr. Carrie Barron—co-author with her husband Alton of The Creativity Cure, which was published by Scribner and came out in hardcover last Spring. I met Carrie at the Harvard course a couple years ago and began working with her on her book concept and book proposal. Her story may sound like a bit of a fairy tale—so put on your glass slippers…
Lisa: Why did you want to write a book?
Carrie: I spent many years scribbling thoughts and ideas on pads and blank documents and wanted to organize them into something. I was fascinated by creativity all my life–read about it, researched it, lived it as a former singer. In my private practice as a psychiatrist I was struck by how people’s moods and feeling about living could dramatically improve if they were involved in a creative process.
Lisa: Were there specific goals that motivated you? Opportunities you hoped the book would open up?
Carrie: I wanted the opportunity to write because I enjoy it so much. Writing is a way to explore, to understand, to gain perspective and even to heal. Also, I felt that this information could be helpful to people who were trying to find ways to feel better–less depressed, less anxious–and not having any luck. Creativity has been called “the original anti-depressant.”
Lisa: When we met at Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course you’d mentioned that you’d been playing with the ideas for a book you were calling, “I’m Creative But I Can’t Create.” Can you say more about where you were with the book when we met?
Carrie: Before Harvard Medical School’s publishing course I had many, many pages but no organization. I had titles, essays, ideas, inspiration but not a coherent package. I didn’t know how to write a proposal. I didn’t have an outline.
Lisa: What did you want to accomplish by attending the Harvard course?
Carrie: I wanted to turn an idea into a product, to have an effective method of writing- meaning a free, letting go part and a structured, crafting part and to learn how to balance them. I wanted to have a writing life and to be able to maintain it. I also wanted to learn about the whole world of writing and publishing because while writing it self is joyful, getting it out there is a completely different thing.
Lisa: What did you get out of the course at Harvard?
Carrie: I learned an enormous amount about writing from the editors and writers themselves. I realized the importance of promotion and social media and how to integrate this into the process in a way that feels organic. I met editors and agents with a wealth of useful information. I met many people with interesting ideas. The most surprising things I learned were that I could handle “pitching,” that the idea does not have to be perfect and that collaboration with the right person can make all the difference. I met you, Lisa, and Jeanne Fredericks, who became my literary agent. You helped me clarify my book concept and craft my book proposal and Jeanne became our agent—and negotiated a six figure book contract with Scribner. It has been thrilling to work with the Scribner team.
Lisa: Any exciting opportunities that have come out of being a published author?
Carrie: So many things! We signed with Scribner. We have had about thirty- five appearances including talk radio, panels, lectures and presentations. We’ve have contributed to articles published in The Atlantic Monthly, Parade Magazine and others, have a regular blog on Psychology Today, spoke at The Maker Faire, the Zoomer Conference in Toronto, on the Dr. Alvin Jones radio show and recently participated on a panel on Creativity and Mental Health at the Cactus Café at UT Austin. The talks are exciting—people ask fascinating questions that really make us think. Other writing opportunities have arisen.
Carrie: We’ll be collaborating on some interesting projects that will focus on using Your Own Two Hands and the value of True Connections to other people. The paperback is coming out in the summer. Frankly, I realized all my goals and beyond.
Lisa: Anything you’d like to say to someone who’s considering attending Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course March 14-16 in Cambridge, MA?
Carrie: This course changed the entire course of my career. It was fun, informative and stimulating from start to finish. If any doctor has dreamed of writing, the HMS course is the place to go. And don’t forget to sign up for the pitch fest because it is the best preparation for what’s to come!