“Why, if it isn’t my favorite patient,” said Dr. R. U. Forereel, a not unsubtle note of sarcasm in her voice, when I entered her office last week for my monthly psychiatric session. “Have a seat, Neil. Which of your numerous problems would you like to discuss today?”
“Well, if you don’t mind, I want to talk about my recent difficulties with writing,” I said as I sat myself down in the patient chair. “I’m sure you remember that I’ve been turning out articles since 2015 for my website Yeah, Another Blogger.”
Dr. Forereel made no attempt to turn her head away from me as she rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding me? Of course I know about Yeah, Another Blogger. How could I not know, considering that you mention it every damn time I see you? Okay, tell me what’s on your mind.”
“Doctor, it’s never been a snap for me to come up with story ideas and develop them into written pieces. But the last couple of weeks have been terrible. I mean, I’ve been stuck in traffic, going nowhere, paddling against the current . . . ”
Dr. Forereel cut me off. “Enough with the clichés already. I get it! You have writer’s block, right?”
“Bingo,” I said.
Dr. Forereel paused for a long moment, playing with the several chin hairs that she’d have done well to dispose of at home. Then she began to talk again.
“Neil, I’m in the process of writing my memoirs, as you know. I have you to thank for that, needless to say. I’ve plugged away at the book religiously every night after work for the last seven months, and on weekends too, with remarkable results. No writer’s block for me. Last night I completed the section about my life at age four, the age at which it became apparent to one and all, including me, that I was not a people person. That personality trait has continued to this day, by the way.”
“What?” I yelled. “After hundreds and hundreds of hours of work you’re only up to age four? At this rate you won’t finish the book for another 25 years! And if you’re not a people person, then why in the world did you pursue psychiatry?”
“Neil, the world will welcome my autobiography no matter when it is published. Of that I’m certain. And, to answer your question, a central message of the book, one that millions of people will take heart from, will be this: It’s absolutely fine to be ill-suited for one’s profession. Why waste time trying out different occupations, hoping and praying that one of them will prove to be a wonderful fit? Just grab indiscriminately at something, put your nose to the grindstone and get on with it. Whatever that it might be. Don’t you agree?”
I was dumbfounded. Which didn’t stop me from cobbling together a response. “You’ve just proven to me that you’re a remarkable theorist, doctor,” I said. “What’s more, a bad match though you might be for psychiatry, you are a wonder-worker too. Where would I, and who knows how many others, be without you? You have illuminated a few of the dark recesses of my mind over the years. Not that I feel any better as a result of that, but at least I have more to talk about with people than I used to. For that, I’m eternally in your debt.”
“So glad to be and to have been of service. You won’t mind, I hope, if I mention you by name in my memoirs?”
“Certainly not. Especially since it seems I’ll be long gone or too old to care by the time your book hits the market. You know, I must say today’s session has been unusually enlivening and enlightening, so much so that I feel the need to write up an account of what you and I have discussed this afternoon. I am totally confident that writer’s block will not be an issue. And then, with your permission, naturally, I’ll publish the story on my blog.”
“You have my blessings,” my doctor said. “After all, your previous descriptions of our encounters brought me a substantial number of new patients. They’d never have known I existed had it not been for you.”
“I’m really glad to hear that,” I replied. “And I barely can wait to get back home and put my fingers on my computer’s keyboard. Because of you, doctor, Yeah, Another Blogger will live to see another day!”