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Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett

Starting Over ~ Check-up Time

A cancer survivor never forgets anything that has to do with her medical

Available October 3rd

Available October 3rd

experience. This includes discovering the lump, the gasp when receiving the actual diagnosis, the crappy treatments, and most important, the support of friends and family.  When all of that is in the rear view mirror, she never, ever forgets doctor appointments.

I had my regular six month appointment this week on Tuesday. You may have noticed a FB post about it. Once made, I never change the  appointment. This year, I gave up a tour and luncheon at the Moffitt Cancer Center’s main campus in north Tampa because of my appointment at their smaller facility across town. I didn’t know about the tour when I scheduled my appointment. Just too bad for me. I didn’t change the appointment. I wouldn’t change the appointment. Perhaps I’m superstitious. Ya’ think?

I was NEVER a superstitious person before I became a writer. Shortly after beginning this career, I began noticing my “rituals.” First, I close my office door. Against who? I don’t know. I’m usually alone in the house. Second, I drink coffee from the same mug every day. Written on the mug are the 011words: Working on a Best Seller. I hand wash it daily so it’s ready for the next morning. Thirdly, no radio, iPod, television or any aural distractions allowed. Other authors must create a playlist for each book before they start writing, but I need silence. In addition, I can’t begin a book without first thinking up a title. Even if it’s changed later on, the manuscript MUST have a title before I begin Page One. I also can’t begin a new story without arranging the research folders on the table next to me…and arrange them just so. I have to begin each day with the piles exactly the way I want them.

Once at the computer, I check email first. Then Facebook. Sometimes a game of Spider Solitaire. The truth is, I’m procrastinating the real work–writing the book! Creating something out of nothing is hard. Very hard for most writers. But here’s another truth: once you sit down and jump back into the story, the writing becomes easier. It’s the thought of starting again that’s worse than the actual doing. In any case, writers have developed a load of ways – rituals – to procrastinate the work.

Which brings me back to medical appointments.  My check-up this week was fabulous! My doctor is fabulous. I gave her a copy of HOPEFULLY EVER AFTER and she immediately started browsing it and laughing out loud. “I love the chapter titles. Oh, look, the Rolling Stones.”  And then, “I have a lot of breast cancer patients who’ve had the disease twice.”  Just like me. I gave her bookmarks to share with others.  She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s in the chapter called, The Search for Dr. Wonderful.  She’s also in the Acknowledgement section.



I mentioned FORCE – Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered–which is the only non-profit foundation in America that focuses solely on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. It’s located in Tampa, and my doctor knew about it! Some of her other patients…the two-time survivors…must be aware of it, too.

It’s almost three years for me now, and my luck is holding. I’m not taking any chances whether rituals or superstitions make sense or not. I don’t walk under ladders, but I do keep original appointments.

Anyone out there have their own rituals or superstitions? Come on. Tell all. Curious minds want to know 🙂

As always, thank you for stopping by.  I hope to see you for the next edition of Starting Over.



OCTOBER CONTEST:  Two winners in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Post a comment and your name will be entered in this month’s drawing for two of the books shown below and a $25 gift certificate to either Amazon or BN. Your choice!

Texas Danger, Brashear


















Celebrate copy










12 thoughts on “Starting Over ~ Check-up Time

  1. I don’t start a customer’s job until I have everything off my desk – not just set elsewhere, but put away properly, even if it takes me two hours to put everything where it belongs first. It’s not so much a ritual, but a way for me to not lose my customer’s work in my own mess. Now that I think about it, I probably should use some more file folders around here so that I can get stuff off my desk on a nightly basis. Thanks! 28 years later and I’ve never thought to do that. Jeesh….

    • Want to share what service you provide to your customers? Curious minds… I think sometimes we become such creatures of habit, that it takes an outsider to see where improvements can be made. Glad I could help 🙂

      • I have a typing business out of my home. Have typed for several psychologists, family doctors, therapists, a private investigator, design company, manufacturing company, college students, and basically anybody needing typing done. Have typed dozens of books (fiction, historical, autobiographies, recipes, advice, etc.) and typed word-for-word interviews lasting several hours each. I started with school reports for fellow students back when I was in college, continued into adulthood, and then started my own business when my eldest was born 28 years ago. Many people return several years later for updating of their CV/resume, and several move far away and email letters, reports, or books for me to edit, before I send a final version back to them. I have had to work outside the home for many of those years while still providing at-home service for the above customers.
        Right now business is slow, so I’m forced to consider a return to working outside the home (while continuing my home business, of course). It’s difficult, as we have only one car, a husband with 13.5-hr shifts away from the home including driving time, and his mother with Alzheimer’s, whom he visits every single day he’s not working or sleeping, 15 miles away.
        By the way, I organized my desk paperwork into file folders finally. It is SOOOOO much better. Thank you for providing a forum for me to come to that realization!

        • Glad to help. We need to consider any home business a real business and stay organized. Easier said than done! Thanks for sharing. I hope business picks up and/or you find an outside job to your liking. Good luck.

  2. YAY!! So glad all was wonderful! Love the rituals. I’m going to have to watch and see if I have any. I know I do, but they’re so ingrained I don’t even notice them anymore!

    • Hi Dee! For those who don’t know her, Dee Davis is a wonderful author friend who writes mystery and comedy. She’s amazing. But regarding rituals…I know what you mean. I think all writers have some ingrained in them. I’ve heard of rubbing stones or a good luck piece on the desk before starting. Different strokes and all that…have a great day!

  3. Linda, I love your writing no matter what it is or topic.

    Thanks for the reminder about scheduling my mammogram. The people at Moffitt are wonderful. That’s where I had my care while fighting liver cancer. I have nothing but nice things to say.

    Hmmm…superstitions, I back off on anything with 66* in it, won’t shower with my eyes closed, and I agree with you, won’t start a book until I have a title.

    Great blog!

    • Hi Anne-Marie! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your own rituals. How do you soap up your face without closing your eyes??? I’m sure you’ve figured it out. Just goes to show that everyone has their own little ways. I’m glad you found success at Moffitt. I’m so lucky to have found my oncologist. Moving to a new state is scary. Best as always,


  4. I knew we were a lot alike, but I just now figured out how much!

    No music. Door closed.

    I had to take off all the games on my computer. I wasted tooooo much time.

    I check email and fill up my Hootsuit queue with tweets before starting my writing.

    I make sure my water jug is filled, too. I’ve cut back on my tea consumption (after I cut out coffee).

    Congrats on the awesome doctor and good appointment.


    • All writers have their rituals. Not surprised we share some. But I couldn’t live without my coffee. Enjoy your tea!

  5. I found your post inspirational, beautiful and unforgettable. It is important to focus upon our traditions and rituals since we are more comfortable with them. Keeping your initial appointment is something that you feel is extremely important and not trivial at all. When you have experienced something as earth shattering as breast cancer this is part of the entire process, and is an integral part of your daily life. best wishes and happiness and wonderful health.

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