Materials writing conversations #10: Medic!

This is a completely imaginary conversation. No characters in the convo are based on real people – I’m just bored and imagining conversations I might have with editors, etc…

Dear Pete,

It’s Nick here from JaggedELT. We provide writing and editorial services for big ELT publishers. As Jagged, our services are cutting edge. Plus, we like to make sure that our communication with the writers we hire is suitably barbed, and our ‘contract offers’ are full of snags.

We are currently working with a client on a new 6 level ESP English for Medics series entitled: Gash! This book is aimed at practicing and training medical professionals and will include highly technical, incomprehensible language to anyone other than medical specialists, or those who have watched ER.

You come highly recommended by another member of our team, Wayne Linville, so we were hoping you’d be keen to author all levels of this series. Please let me know if this is of interest, and your availability.

Kind regards

Nick Notch


Hi Nick, thanks for getting in touch.

Thanks also for considering me for this project. It’s always nice to come recommended!

That said, I’m not sure I have the specialist knowledge to be an author for a project like this. I’ve only worked with Wayne on general English resources, so I’m not sure why he thinks I’m suited to this Medical English project… Still, I’m flattered!

Best of luck with the project!
Kind regards
Pete


Dear Pete,

Thanks for the response.

I’ve spoken to Wayne. He thinks you’ll be well up to the task. He said that you wrote a well-informed text on parkour-related injuries for the B1 level book during a previous project. Wayne was impressed by how you elevated the most predictable and mock-edgy of topics for a teen book into a macabre gorefest. It worked well for the Squid Game generation, but it was also factually accurate from a medical point of view. We did have to omit the images of Necrotizing Fasciitis though.

He also said your doctor-patient dialogue in the adult A2 level book during the Lockstep! project was very authentic, saying it was reminiscent of his own trip to the doctors when he was diagnosed with aggressive hemorrhoids.

Anyhow, we are both really keen for you to work on this with us. Let me know what you think.

Nick



Hi Nick,

Seriously, I really don’t have the expertise for this one. Sure, I mean, I can write the odd authentic dialogue about piles based on experience (and I’m pleased to hear that Wayne could relate to it), but I know next to nothing about jargon for medical professionals, typical dialogues in the profession, the day-to-day aspects of the role, and so on.

I’ll ask around and see if any other writers I know are keen, but I really can’t help you with this project. Apologies.

Best,
Pete


Hi Pete,

I understand your concerns.

You know, there really isn’t much to it when it comes to medical jargon. Did you ever use to watch 999 with Michael Burke? Casualty, perhaps?

Kind regards
Nick


Hi again Nick,

Wow! They take me back! I used to watch Casualty when Ash was in it. Is it still on?

As for 999, I remember that episode with the javelin through the neck. Brutal. And then the one where the farmer slips over in muck and gets run over by his own tractor. Oh, and the guy who was electrocuted after climbing a pylon to steal eggs from a bird’s nest. Good show.

Anyhow, I’m sure there’s more to writing English for medics than the word ‘scalpel’ and the phrases ‘we’re losing him/her!’ and ‘get me 20 mls of blah blah!’ which is pretty much all the operating theatre/bedside dialogue I can remember from Casualty.

Best of luck, and if I find anyone else interested then I’ll let you know.

Pete


Hi Pete,

That type of knowledge of 1990s medical shows will really help you hit the ground running!

Please find attached the schedule for the project. As you can see, it’s a quick turnaround. We’d like you to write each book (3 draft stages) in about 6 weeks.

If it helps, here’s some information on the fees for this project. We are offering $450 per book. A book consists of roughly 8 units of 16 pages each, plus the author is responsible for the endmatter and accompanying workbook. We’d normally have snuck that last bit into small print somewhere in the contract, but I thought I’d be upfront with you.

Your knowledge of scenarios from 999 should give you enough content for at least one unit. Plus, we can recycle your text on parkour from the B1 book. You’ve practically got 15% of the first book written already.

Please confirm that you’re available to take this project on. We will start writing next Monday.

All the best,
Nick



Hi again Nick,

Ah! You lured me back in with small talk about classic British TV! Good move – it always gets me!

While I appreciate your continued interest in my services, I’m going to have to be blunt here. I’m not the person for the job. I honestly wouldn’t know where to start. Just in case you come back at me with more powers of persuasion, I’ll pre-empt the questions:

  • Yes, I have a first aid certificate. The only ‘medical emergency’ I’ve ever been involved in was when I thought someone was unconscious outside an Iron Maiden gig. I went to clear their airways, and they bit down so hard on my finger that I nearly lost it. Both my patience and the finger.
  • No, I wasn’t a big fan of Diagnosis Murder.
  • Diabetes and IBD are pretty much the only medical illnesses I could write about. That’s it. You’ll never stretch those across six books, surely.

Besides, there must be more to it. I mean, medical professionals do more than diagnose illnesses and operate on people. On TV they look at pocket watches, take coffee breaks, stare at fake X-rays, and flirt. In real life, they strike. I’m not that versed in any of those activities.

Best

Pete


Hi Pete,

We could have a ‘focus’ unit at each level on blood sugar, ramping up the vocab as we go.

Best

Nick


Hi Nick

No.

Kind regards,

Pete


Hi Pete

Okay, I’ll level with you. We are desperate. Like, literally, I’ll take anyone at the moment. If you’ve ever been to the doctors, that’s about enough specialist knowledge for me. No one else will take the project on given the fee, let alone someone who vaguely knows what they’re talking about. We just plumped for a low figure to kinda win the contract, and the publisher bit our hand off. Now we’re stuck with this six-month project worth peanuts for all involved, and we just need to shift it.

Can you please do me a favour and take on one or two books in this series? I’ll be sure to prioritize you for better contracts down the line. It would be a big help. Just make a whole booklet about IBD for all I care. The publisher trusts that we have a team of experts waiting to write this one, so I can convince them of the value of whatever you produce. It was Dr Pete, wasn’t it?

Yours hopefully,

Nick


Hi Nick

Blimey. Well at least you’re honest. And none of that surprises me given our previous correspondence.

Okay, look. I can probably fit in one book. But… please be realistic with regards to what you’re getting from me. I haven’t watched Casualty since I was about 14 (although I’d hazard a guess that Charlie Fairhead is still in it). Still, I guess I can draw on some knowledge from that.

I look forward to receiving the contract. In truth, I’ll be pleased to just wrap up this email thread, as it’s becoming a bit of a burden during my working day…

Kind regards
Pete


Dear Peter,

Thanks for your interest in this project. After careful consideration, we have decided to offer the role to another writer. While we value your expertise, we feel they have a tad more specialist knowledge in this area.

Thanks again for your time and we hope to work with you in the future.

All the best,
Nick


Dear Nick,

Er. ER. Oh. Right. I’m glad you found someone eventually.

Pete


Dear Peter,

I can tell you’re peeved. No hard feelings. We were bugging two different writers about this one – you were literally our last resorts. While it’s clear that you know your stuff on the medical front, the other writer owned the whole box set of ER. Plus, they agreed to $400 per book.

Rest assured, we’ll certainly repurpose your previous texts with us for the project. I’m sure it’s not just yourself and Wayne who can relate to that hemorrhoids dialogue.  

All the best and we hope to work with you in the future.

Nick.



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