As it does with most people, the phrase "I should write a book" turned over in Jim Murdock's mind a number of times before he actually picked up a pen and let ink spill words on the page.
Yet when the urge finally arrived, he wasn't expecting it at all.
"I always figured I'd write my life story," he said. Instead, Murdock learned to fancy fiction. His story starters: Shards of memories from his own youth and odd vignettes he clipped from news accounts. Born was "The Blankenschipf Curse."
"I remembered a story while reading about the history of Swainsboro, Ga., years before," he wrote, describing how one story nugget grew into a book concept. "It was a short, amusing incident that was just mentioned in the book about a boy who got his head caught in the spindles at the church altar while taking communion."
Rube Winters would go on to suffer a good many more unfortunate events before cracking the curse and discovering the keys to healthy living as Murdock's main character.
The writer's own journey, though far less dramatic than Rube's, begins in Decatur, Ala. where he grew up before moving to Dundee, Mich., as a sophomore in high school. He attended Eastern Michigan University, where he met his wife Andrea.
Both teachers, they covered a range of subjects with high school students near Detroit. Murdock's concentrations were American history and government before illness altered his course in life. Crohn's Disease planted in him a curiosity about health and wellness that has not yielded since.
"People have the power to heal themselves," said Murdock, 72. "One of the things is to stay positive. The fact is, if you don't, it's going to shorten your own life."
After 17 years of teaching high school, Murdock became a student again learning chiropractic medicine. He changed careers at age 42, moving to Swainsboro to take over a practice in the south Georgia town where he'd later capture the story idea that would grow into his debut work.
An Athens resident since retiring around 1999, Murdock took to writing fiction thanks to Harriette Austin and her creative writing classes at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. In that class, "Blankenschipf" developed as a bit of a proving ground to him rather than best-seller. He self-published the book in frustration with traditional routes.
Likely contributing to his trouble with agents and editors are what Murdock does unusually. In "Blankenschipf," he cross-trains genres with elements of mystery, "New Age," health and spiritualism, including an overriding theme of forgiveness. He includes a "prescription for living card" in the inside back cover.
And, he employs a "rogue narrator" who gives information to the readers outside the narrative of the third-person work.
A technique more suitable for the stage, perhaps, Murdock clearly fell for the outside influence he likens as a character in conversation.
"It just came to me one night," he said, on why he uses a non-character to give inside information about his plot. "The argument against it is it draws you out of the story. But I really liked the character.
"So, you know, maybe I'll write a book about him one day."
• For more information about "The Blankenschipf Curse" go to www.jimmurdock.com.