NOTE: DCP author Ted Berland has shared with us a five-part series about his life as a writer. We hope you enjoy getting to know this prolific author who wrote The Diabetic Wine Lover’s Guide, published by Dudley Court Press in 2015.
While writing is a lonely life, it is not a hermitic life. It is lonely only when I am actually writing. (Like now.)
At the risk of seeming self-serving, let me give you some details of the important other, nonprofessional, side of my life.
For the 52 years that I was married to Cynthia, I led an active family life. We had a home and a family and I was active in my neighborhood, religious, and professional communities. We birthed and raised three children: two daughters and a son. And they produced a total of eight grandchildren.
In 1961, when our eldest was 2 years old, we moved into a 2-story town house in Chicago. I furnished the tiny third bedroom as my office. Our two other children started there. I was not available when working in my office, which frequently lasted until 11p.m. This office shared a wall with the children’s bedroom. Leslie, my eldest, later told me that the clickety-clack of my typewriter lulled her to sleep at night.
In 1965 when our three small children were growing up, we moved into a huge house in Chicago, a few blocks from Cynthia’s folks on the North Side. We all expanded easily into these much larger quarters. This time all three bedrooms were on the second floor, and my office was in the basement, complete with large desk, filing cabinets, pool table, and my first computer, a portable one called Kaypro II.
I installed an intercom system in the house so that we could communicate. And I established rules, such as: when working, I was available only for dealing with spiders and blood, and for meals.
Working at home enabled me to be close to the children and for my wife to be involved in organizations such as Brandeis University Alumni Women’s Club and to run a small catering business.
Since my wife liked to sleep late in the mornings, I made breakfast for the children and then served them lunch. They frequently brought friends whose mothers were also involved in outside activities. (One of these mothers conferred on me the title of Honorary Mother.)
I didn’t take my family responsibilities lightly. Quite the contrary. They motivated me to work hard and to be creative in my craft. I was (and am) aware that I am not unique. I have a lot of competition. In fact, the number of persons calling themselves freelance science/medical writers constantly grows. And they are smart, creative, enterprising, and energetic. I devoted time and energy to attending conventions of: doctors and research scientists to get ideas; and to my professional organizations to network and keep up with our trade and the many publication markets.
During my career I also worked part-time in the public relations departments of Michael Reese Hospital, the University of Chicago, and Rush Medical Center. These experiences greatly expanded my medical knowledge.
As a way of “giving back,” I taught journalism at several universities and served as president of the American Medical Writers Association,
At the age of 87, I am still writing, on my now 8-year-old MacBook Pro. I live alone in an apartment in a retirement community outside of Chicago. My two daughters and their families live nearby, except for the two grandsons in college. My son lives in Ohio; his two children are away at college; one wants to be a food writer. (Yea!)
Some time after Cynthia died, I connected with Gail, a widowed family friend. At this writing we have been “seeing each other” for 6 years.
“Most of our existing methods of transport, together with the physical and emotions that accompany them, will be profoundly changed” –Rudyard Kipling, in an address to Royal Geographical Society in February, 1914 (6 months before World War I).
©2016 Theodore Berland /All Rights Reserved