Saturday, January 25, 2014


      What would you say to someone starting a career as a writer?

Don’t. Find something useful to do with your life. For those of you not willing to follow a recommendation and I myself do not follow, here is the other one. Read, read, read. Read fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and everything else. Read widely and deeply. Read good and bad literature (so you can tell the difference). Go to writing workshops. Get people to critique your work (my experience is, however, that only one in ten are very good at it). Write, write, write. Well, that’s a start. 

      What traits do writers need?

I certainly think intelligence and creativity are a must, depending on whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Determination and consistency are important because you have to produce. A thick skin is helpful because you can’t please everybody and sometimes you can’t seem to please anybody. You can’t get better unless you’re critiqued.

      What is the name of your most recent publication and what inspired you to write it?

That would be my memoir, I NEVER MET A PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIC I DIDN’T LIKE. It concerns the first twenty years of my career as a psychologist in various state mental institutions, outpatient mental health centers, and one maximum security prison psychiatric unit, where I treated the craziest of the crazies. It was a wonderful learning experience and I look back on those days fondly. I wrote the book because it was an interesting period and should be documented.

      Who influenced you to become a shrink?

Nobody, really. I put in my book, I NEVER MET A PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIC I DIDN’T LIKE, that I was so neurotic as a child and teenager and that I decided to find out why. And did, for better or worse. I don’t regret it. It was a wonderful career.

      What advantages are there being a shrink in the dating world?

I’m not sure there are any. I haven’t found that women avoid dating me because I’m a psychologist. On the other hand, I can probably determine more quickly than the average male if a relationship isn’t going to work, and I tend to bail out earlier than others. That’s good and bad. It might be better to remain in a dysfunctional relationship and be semi-happy than be alone and miserable. At least, I’ve often pondered about that.

Henry F. Tonn is a semi-retired psychologist who has published fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book and literary reviews in such print journals as the Gettysburg Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Fifth Wednesday Journal, and online journals as the Summerset Review, Front Porch Journal, and Eclectica. He is the editor of the war veterans anthology, Remembrances of Wars Past, the author of the memoir, I Never Met a Paranoid Schizophrenic I Didn’t Like, and the e-novelette, The Tuxedoed Corpse. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his chow chow dog, Fred. His website and blog can be found at