Friday, September 9, 2016

Writing to Dilute the Wrongs

There is an interesting and at times frustrating dichotomy found in the general opinion of the internet and social media: for some things, the internet is an awesome tool (e.g. ordering bowties for your cat). For other things, it is a terrible, monstrous entity (e.g. hateful platforms, blatantly incorrect and sometimes dangerous information, and trolls). Both the writing community and veterinary industry see both sides. It takes a certain type of talent to rein in the wild beasts of 21st century communication and one veterinarian and author, Dr. Kathryn Primm, has become an expert.
Kathryn Primm, DVM behind the scenes!
Kathryn is a small animal practitioner in Ooltewah, Tennessee, and owner of Applebrook Animal Hospital. In 2013, she published her first book called Tennessee Tails: Pets and Their People and is the "resident vet" for and Additionally, she regularly produces videos on a YouTube channel, is featured on local radio talk shows, and blogs. So. She seems busy. Luckily for us, I recently got a chance to connect with her. Here's what we talked about.

Surprising to me, Kathryn says her writing career started with her book. "I learned so much in promoting it," she says. "I liked going to the libraries/book signings and talking to new people. I found that people sometimes feel more comfortable with a stranger than with their own vet, so I saw it as an opportunity to encourage people to build relationships with their own vets. I started seeking media queries for chances to talk about the the book, but found that there were many topics people wanted to talk about. As I did interviews on TV and radio, I started to find it really fun."

Kathryn says her incentive for her book was her love of her patients and the role these animals play for their owners as well as for Kathryn as their vet. Finding time to write between appointments and after hours, Kathryn says a second book is on hold as she works on her other writing outlets and acknowledges that her growth as a writer during the process of the first book has helped her. "I am a much better writer now than I was when I started Tennessee Tails," she says. "It comes much more easily to me. I can be more efficient and it does not take me as long."

Given the spectrum of media outlets that Kathryn now has experience in, I asked her which is her favorite. "The most fun I have had lately is with the live stream videos," she says. "I did not think I would like it as much as I do. It is fast paced, fun, and they get a ton of views!"

"I want to give good, credible information to as many people as I can."

Always interested in educating people on various topics of vet med, Kathryn says currently her favorite topics to write about are animal behavior and nutrition. "I feel there is a lot of bad info out there on these topics and I want to give good, credible information to as many people as I can."

Given the various pitfalls of social media, Kathryn explains what she sees as the benefits of engaging with the public via these various platforms. "I see it as an opportunity to get people and pets back to the veterinarians," she says. In the fight against "Dr. Google," Kathryn aims to provide much needed veterinary information that is actually written by a veterinarian. Understandably, there are negatives to this, as well. Other than the time factor, Kathryn says she does receive a lot of online comments from readers who are seeking actual veterinary advice. "Unfortunately, I can't get into specifics of cases and always have to suggest that they see their own vet," she says. "I wonder if they find it frustrating."

"Social media has become a source of information for clients," she says. "You want to be sure that they are getting the best info possible. My goal is absolutely to provide the most accurate and useful information that I can. I do a lot of research and provide citations for those that want to know more. There is so much junk info out there. It is my mission to try to balance it with good info."

"If you love to write, you should."

Despite the ups and downs of working on social media (and the ups and downs with publishing), Kathryn remains upbeat and encouraging to those who might be thinking about dipping their toes in the writing water. "Just start," she says. "Write anything down that is important to you. Just think: what is the worst that can happen? You get to write your thoughts and feelings down in a cathartic journal? That is a GOOD thing! And the best that could happen is that other people love your writing as much as you do and you gain a platform to help them. You never know what life will bring your way. If you love to write, you should."