Interview with Robert T. Sharp D.V.M.
How did you become a writer?
It was a bolt out of the blue. One evening my office was struck by lightning, and all of our computers and lab devices were zapped. My replacement laptop had an advanced word processor. I’d always shared animal stories with clients, and I took a crack at writing one with the new Mac. After I’d written a number of these stories, I was encouraged by a client (who is a professional editor) to press on…and don’t stop. I did, and I didn’t.
What inspires you to write?
Animals, and the humans on the other end of the lead. I’m always inspired by the strength and resilience of injured or sick animals. Many years ago a stray dog was brought to the office—hit by a car and left in the road for dead. The sheriff’s deputy brought him for euthanasia since his wounds were extensive, and a back leg was mangled. When I inserted the catheter to “put him to sleep”, he leaned forward and licked my hand. I can’t imagine his pain, but he was only interested in saying “hello” to a new friend. I did have to euthanize Tommy…18 years later. Tommy, his six month recovery, and his future equestrian owner, would make a pretty good story, but it was just another everyday occurrence and inspiration.
Could you share some of your challenges as a writer.
Well, I never learned to type, and that can really slow you down. On the other hand, it gives you a chance to think as you hunt for letters. I’ve had a job that starts at about 8 a.m. and finishes about 7 p.m.— so writing during the daylight hours can be hard. I’ve had ten years of formal education after high school—all science. As far was writing goes, no one taught me how to “do it right.” These are reasons we all use for not writing, and they all sound pretty good, but are really just excuses. My biggest challenge is overcoming inertia.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
No. I “write” when I ride a lawn mower. I “write” in a fishing boat. I have most of what I write outlined in my head before I ever see the computer. Of course my vignettes aren’t the length of a novel either, but you can do it anywhere. I was told by an artist who is a friend and client that if we were both stuck in an airport for a long time, all we’d need to entertain ourselves is a pencil and piece of paper.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Keep a daily journal of interesting cases and clients, even if only a few sentences. There are some great stories out there lost forever because of time and fading memory. And take typing as a high school elective!
Do you have any advise for aspiring writers?
We all have stories to tell, and reasons why we aren’t doing it. When I was a kid my parents (both teachers) and I would sit at the dinner table and say, “Well, what happened at school today?” Teachers, truckers, lawyers, plumbers all have daily situations that are interesting and unique. They might stand on their own, be passed down in your family’s genealogy, or serve as the background for a great novel. Write about what you know. Herman Melville was a common sailor first, and wrote about it.
Don’t write to make money, get famous, or even get published. That would be nice, and may even happen, but first…write because you enjoy it. If I didn’t think writing was fun, I’d stick to my day job, and enjoy the company of animals without telling anyone about it. Skip the excuses and get started!
My preferred method for people to reach me is my email address: