Category Archives: Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales

Reflections On My West Texas Book Tour

IMG_0363I enjoyed a busy week recently in Lubbock speaking on their NPR station at Texas Tech University, at an event at the Texas Tech University Library, to a private book party entitled “A Celebration and a Conversation” kindly hosted by Judy Wilkins and La Nelle Etheridge, and to the Lubbock Roundtable. Wow, each was a lot of fun. The comments on my book, Carrying The Black Bag, proved very positive and I enjoyed the interaction.
Below I’ve shared a couple of pictures from the library presentation and a very nice video provided by the library. Should you wish a similar talk to your organization, please contact Trudy, my wife, who keeps the schedule (don’t they always). Her email is trudy_hutton@yahoo.com

IMG_0383IMG_0386Here is the link to the presentation at the Texas Tech University Library:

https://youtu.be/yyh241N4zNg

Lubbock Book Tour This Week-Carrying The Black Bag

21122377Looking forward to several book related events this week in Lubbock. Thursday morning I’ll tape a thirty minute program for Dr. Tom McGovern”s radio program that will play on the Texas Tech University NPR station. Dr. McGovern is a fine Ethicist and a wonderful human being whom I always enjoy being around and learn from.

Then on Thursday evening at 7 pm I will be presenting at the Texas Tech University Library on my book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. The event is open to the public.

Friday evening my good friends Judy Wilkins and La Nelle Etheridge are having a “Celebration and Conversation” event where I will speak about my book to their invited guests. This is such a generous invitation and one I’m greatly looking forward to.

Then on Saturday morning I will again share stories from my book at the Lubbock Roundtable at 11:00 at the Hillcrest Country Club.

I feel fortunate to have been asked to give numerous book talks since Carrying The Black Bag came out three months ago. These are all fun events. I particularly enjoy gaining feedback from folks whose lives have been impacted meaningfully by my book and from learning their stories. Let me know if you would wish to schedule me for a book talk and Trudy and I will try to make it happen.

If you are in Lubbock this week, hope to see you at the TTU Library Thursday night or as Charles Osgood says, “I’ll see you on the radio.”

Midwest Book Review of Carrying The Black Bag

15998415

My book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales recently received this wonderful review in Midwest Book Review. I am gratified to share it with you:

From March 2016 issue of Midwest Book Review…www.midwestbookreview.com

MBR Bookwatch: March 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

Dunford’s Bookshelf

Carrying the Black Bag
Thom Hutton, M.D.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
http://www.ttupress.org
9780896729544, $27.95, HC, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

Synopsis: During his thirty-plus years of practicing in West Texas and Minnesota, physician and neurologist Tom Hutton discovered that a doctor’s best teachers are often his patients. From these (extra)ordinary individuals, he gained a whole-hearted respect for the resourcefulness, courage, and resilience of the human spirit. Part memoir and part homage to those patients who faced major illness with grace, grit, and dignity, “Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales” invites readers to experience what it is like to be a doctor’s hands, eyes, and heart. Imagine the joy of witnessing a critically ill five-year-old who, against all odds, claws her way back from a coma and near certain death. Meet a lonely Texas widower with Parkinson’s disease who hosts elaborate pinochle parties for a pack of imaginary canines. Step into the surgical booties of the author when he attempts to deliver his own child amid heart-stopping obstetrical complications. Through real-life patient narratives, Dr. Hutton shines light on ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges. Moreover, this captivating tale captures the drama of medicine, including its mystery, pathos, heroism, sacrifice, and humor. For more than just those working in the healthcare profession, “Carrying the Black Bag” also shares a behind-the-curtain peek at the rapidly changing American health care system.

Critique: Impressive, exceptional, absorbing, informative, thoughtful, and entertaining, “Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales” is a compelling and rewarding read from beginning to end. “Carrying the Black Bag” is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, as well as to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the ‘real world’ experiences of a dedicated physician.

Michael Dunford
Reviewer

More Early Praise for Carrying The Black Bag

My book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales, recently appeared in bookstores. This is particularly gratifying as there had been several unavoidable delays due to exceptional circumstances at the publisher. My book is the culmination of years of hard work. I am most gratified by how it’s been received by both individual readers and reviewers.Carrying the Black Bag book

Glen Dromgoole recently contacted me and asked if I would lead off the Texas Author’s Series March 7 in Abilene. I am excited to be a part of this effort featuring five authors over a period of months. It will be held at the Abilene library.

Glen Dromgoole who writes a column for multiple newspapers in Texas on literary matters recently  reviewed my book. I have attached the link below and love his review. If you are in the area, hope you will join us for the event. It should be a lot of fun. Below is the link to Dromgoole’s review.

http://lubbockonline.com/books/2015-12-27/dromgoole-huttons-stories-show-compassion-insight-humor#.VomiNvEsYZ0

Crashing Into The Digital Age

15998415

Thanks to Trudy’s cousin, Pud Kearns, I now have a website. With the release later this month of my book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales, it was important to increase my visibility. So much publicity these days is online whereas before it was done more by book signings and lectures.
To my amazement within the first 24 hours of a new FB page, over 100 likes came in. Wow, that’s an impressive reach- so many people and so quickly.
I look forward to answering questions and interacting with readers. And now I have a convenient and fast way to do it. This digital stuff is pretty impressive. Book out toward the end of the month. Hope to hear from you.

https://tomhuttonmd.com/

My Writing Process

22109118

One frequently asked question  readers have since publishing Carrying The Black Bag is about my writing process and any efforts utilized to foster creativity. I’ve decided to add some thoughts here on my blog to answer my readers more fully:

Yes, some authors do goofy things to stimulate their creativity. i’ve known some and read about others. The superstitious may choose to sit only in a specific chair or drink only one brand of tea. Others play up-tempo music or stirring classical works. Admittedly, I’ve been known to don a cap (my Greek fisherman’s cap’s my favorite) to prime the creative juices. But the goal for each author, no matter what the idiosyncrasy, is to achieve a creative fervor whereby the characters take command of the story and  fingers simply race to keep pace with surging thoughts.

For me I appreciate sitting before my word processor with a clear mind, a comfortable chair, and an exciting idea. I usually outline the story before beginning it. This isn’t an absolute but generally I find outlining helpful. I try and determine what the chapter requires for plot or subplot and then with trepidation shove off into the unknown.

Nothing inspires fear more in writers than a blank page or screen. Once immersed in the story, my pace inevitably picks up. Usually after the first draft I simply hate it. I often think what I have written is not fit for bathroom walls. It is not until  many more drafts later that I begin to like it even a little bit.  I then put it “in the can” for awhile. Usually after a week or so, I am able to spot additional flaws and weaknesses. I then adjust the story, much like adjusting a recipe to taste, substituting stronger verbs, adding apt similes/metaphors, and creating further descriptions.

The next stop for me on this literary journey is my writing group. Our group of five writers has met for many years and by now has developed a sense of trust. While we possess vastly different styles and genres, the feedback never fails to benefit my story. Soon thereafter I make the additional changes. After a final read through with minor edits I may write THE END. If the writing project is particularly important I may ask a beta reader for his/her thoughts. These are extremely valuable folks who must like your writing and be anxious to share their precious skills.

The question among writers that repeatedly comes up is whether the spouse should act as an informal editor or serve as an alpha reader. The usual response and one to which I hardily agree is NO, absolutely NOT! Having said that, almost every author I know or have read about uses (abuses) their spouse in this way, so long as he/she is halfway literate. I fully recognize this marital extortion is totally unfair to my spouse. In general the writer’s wife or husband feels torn between being supportive and being honest. To this I say, “tough.” No one ever said marriage would be easy!

So yes, Trudy regularly reads my stories. I ask her to do this when I am simply written out or else in need of a fresh eye. She also is good at word choice and grammar. Sorry Trudy. Such editorial services I’m sure must have been hidden in the fine print of the marriage contract.

My inspiration often springs from my surroundings and experiences. I love to tell stories. I love to watch people and animals and try to figure out what makes them do what they do. I love seeing people in extraordinary circumstances do extraordinary acts (this is the watermark underneath my patient stories  in Carrying The Black Bag). These stories show real people demonstrating courage and perseverance that, in some instances, they never knew they possessed. They tell us something good about the nature of our humanity.

Animal behavior also strikes me as overlooked for the substantial insights it provides for human behavior. I love animals. Maybe that is why in college I majored in Zoology. It wasn’t simply because it was a good Pre-Med major, and Chemistry, the other option, held for me no allure.

Much has been written on the creative process. I’m convinced creativity steals into the picture and cannot be forced. When it hits me, it does so unexpectedly much like a pigeon dropping. A rested mind, a beautiful scene, and a tickling of intellectual stimulation all enhance my potential for creativity.

Since the writing process per se is language-based, it is is strongly left brain. However, sudden insights like solving a problem or flashes of intuition come from the right brain. This  ability to perceive a solution requiring synthesis is right hemispheric and cannot be arrived at verbally. To write well, both sides of the brain need to work together. To paraphrase and alter the old Greek saying, we need a strong left hemisphere and a strong right hemisphere. That is, the brain must process verbal material, but also be able to discern some broader interpretation in order to tell a good story.

I believe this to be true, and try to put this into practice. And now so much for superstition or goofy acts. Now where was it I laid my Greek fisherman’s hat.