Monday, June 3, 2013

On Brain Aneurysms, Control, and Self Publishing

www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
A year ago, my husband woke me up at 6:00 a.m., hands on his head, yelling, "It hurts! Get an aspirin! It hurts!"

When I came back from raiding the medicine cabinet, he was unconscious on the the bed, foaming at the mouth, convulsing, and wheezing.

My daughters' stuck their sleepy heads out of their bedrooms, their eyes wide.  "I need you to go back to bed," I told them.  They must have sensed the panic in my voice, because for once in their lives they listened without argument.

My husband suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm.  They drilled a little hole in his head.  They put a coil in where the hemorrhaging occurred.  And they told us the consequences could be serious. If he made it.

Waiting to see how he would pull through, I had never, ever felt less in control of life.  I had never felt more useless or more frightened of the future than I did then. But after a surgery that lasted hours and a stay in the hospital that lasted six weeks, my husband came out practically unscathed.

I say practically because he's himself and yet he's not.  Parts of his personality have changed, and we are still trying to work with that. It's put all of us -- me, the kids, and him -- in high-stress mode most of the time. The past year has been a serious education for me on just how sensitive the brain really is.  And how quickly life changes.

But it has also taught me to take control of my life. Or at least the of things in my life I can control.  Up until last year, I'd been waiting for life to happen to me.  Now I know not to wait; I have to make things happen. 

My book had been rejected by publishers and it was sitting dormant on my USB key.  After eighteen rewrites, plenty of feedback and some editing, Untethered wasn't perfect.  But it was ready. And so was I.

Was self-publishing Untethered the right choice?  I don't know.  But it was a choice.  I could have waited, finished my next book and had my agent send that to publishers, hoping for better luck. But I didn't want to wait. Being picked up by a publisher wasn't as important to me as being published.  I may be blind and blundering around out there, but I am out there.  And that's what I want.

Now, as I'm closing in on finishing a draft of a new novel, I know there are things I will do differently with this book and its publishing path. And unless the gods come in to make me an offer I can't refuse, I'm planning on going straight to self-publishing.  Because, well, it's a matter of control.

As that morning a year ago taught me, we are so rarely in control of the things that mean the most in our lives.

So I intend to seize the occasions when I can be.


 

25 comments:

  1. Great post, I am feeling empowered and inspired, now to find something to control.

    Sher

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    1. Somehow, Sher, I don't see you as having a problem finding things to control! :)

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  2. Courage is facing what you don't want to face and doing what you don't want to do when you know it is the right thing to do. Long ago, I realised that I needed to do everything possible to make happen what I wanted to happen and after that I didn't have any control...but by doing all that was possible took me further than I ever dreamed possible.
    Keep going girl...

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    1. DL, you have been such an inspiration in so many ways. You amaze me. Even through the really tough times you managed to keep a sense of humor and your feet on the ground. AND you keep writing! :)

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  3. Katie, this is an amazing post. To have survived what you have....I think would rather it happen to myself than to watch it happen to my husband, explain it to my kids. You're incredibly strong, and this is one more stepping stone in making you even stronger. I think your choice to self pub was the right one because, simply, you were ready. And you tried the traditional route, you didn't just take the easy way out. Good for you, and I know you will have all the success you wish for.

    x Julie

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    1. Thanks, Julie. It was tough. Still is at times, but we are extremely, extremely lucky. And I am out there now getting to meet awesome people on Twitter and Pinterest and the like! :)

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  4. I'm so sorry about this, Katie. My previous husband had a brain injury and I worked for a while at a psychiatric hospital with brain injury victims to try to understand it better - huge subject. Battling now all the time with current (that sounds awful - I mean permanent!) husband's health - it does indeed give you that 'do it now' thing, and the realisation that our time on this earth is but a moment, thus we must do all we can while it lasts! Am thinking of a quote by St Bede, but I can't quite think of it - something about the sparrow flying through the mead hall - ah well, Google here I come! :)

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    1. Terry, you are amazing. All this and here you are writing and blogging regularly and doing it successfully! Way to go. And now I will Google St. Bede

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  5. Katie, I had no idea! I spent over a year on the Neurological Intensive Care Unit as a therapist. Therapists most often come into situations where there is no where to go but up. It's a blessing, because we don't have dreams or memories to mourn the loss of. This leaves me even more amazed at how much you have accomplished. Send me a note when you have the energy to revisit some of the last year in more detail.
    Big, big, hugs!

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    1. I haven't shared the news of L's aneurysm online before because he wasn't comfortable with it. Today, he said that was fine. And he even agreed that he has changed! That's already a HUGE step. I'd love to catch up, Melissa. It's been WAY too long.

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  6. Thank you for sharing such a personal post. Agency is about knowing what you want, and going for it. Being in control. Asking the right question - what do you want? to be picked up by a publisher or to be published? You are clear in your line of questioning and clear in your decision.
    You are strong and in charge - an inpiration to all writers.
    Du courage!

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    1. Thank you! I don't always feel strong or in charge...but I'm making a go of it! :)

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  7. So glad I ran across your blog. I think many writers are conditioned to think a book is crap unless it's been picked up by an agent and publisher. Seizing the moment and taking control are courageous acts. Yay for you. While I am querying my fourth novel and would love to find an agent, I have started the self-pub process for my cozy mystery. Because I can. Because I want to. Because I have control over my creativity. My husband I lived in Geneva for a couple of years. Is that where you are?

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    1. Thank you! And I wish you the best of luck both in finding an agent and for your mystery. I am in Geneva! How cool that you lived here. When were you here?

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  8. From 1997-1999. We both worked for WHO (I was the publications editor for the TB programme and then worked for UNAIDS on a freelance basis). We lived on Rue Merle d'Aubigne near Parc des Eaux-Vives. We LOVED Geneva. We hope to spend two weeks there next summer.

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    1. I'm always amazed at how many people who work for NGO's and the like move around the world like nothing. And I love Geneva, too. It has its moments, but overall, it's fantastic and the quality of life can't be beat. I hope you get to come back for a visit!

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  9. Fantastic post Katie, your best yet. It is utterly empowering and inspiring. Thank you for sharing and for the kick. You.are.AWESOME.! xx

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    1. Ha! Says she of the awesome bloggers! :)

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  10. Such a good message. And a good reminder. We do need to be in control of our creativity, I think. And I know I need to stop waiting for life to happen to me. Life is short, unpredictable and who knows what else? The only thing we have true control over is ourselves. :)

    *hugs* I am glad we are friends!

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    1. Thank you, Shanah. I'm glad we're friends, too. Not every day you find a fellow Wisconsinite with a passion for RDJ and a heartwarming sense of humor!

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    2. heh, I can't keep track of where I've left comments. ;) I guess you've got it by now that I am glad we're friends. LOL Really? I have a heartwarming sense of humor? *blush* Thanks! I don't usually think of myself as very witty, but I suppose I am pretty goofy. :D (Hooray for Cheeseheads! ;) )

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  11. Great Post! I look forward to reading the book. Control is an issue that we are so sure we have but life has a way of letting us know very loudly that we are not in control.

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    1. Thank you, Kathryn. And I totally agree. Life is always throwing us curveballs and reminding us who's boss! :)

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  12. Katie, I had no idea you were going through all of this. I've only just come across this page. You are truly amazing. And an amazing writer that touches me deeply every time I read you.

    I became epileptic when I was in Thailand. I thought at the time it was due to a severe fall on my head a year before that. Now, I think that probably contributed, but there were many other factors. I cured myself of the epilepsy through something called 'Shaking Meditation' (I recently spent 13 months on the ashram in Bali, doing 6+ hours of shaking every day). However, for the past 2 years I have had strong bolts of energy shooting up into my brain when I'm falling asleep at night. I've recently been really delving into how to cure myself of this problem (and other health issues). For the past 6 weeks I've been on a cleansing diet of steamed vegetables and nuts (I came to this through learning I had Candida Albicans, Mercury intoxication and many, many, many food allergies). For the past two weeks, I haven't felt any energy shots in my head!
    Perhaps your husband could benefit from a change in his diet?
    Wishing you all the best! May you all come through this, closer, stronger, and wiser!
    And I'm buying your book! Looking forward to reading it!
    Love,
    Deborah

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    1. Hi Deborah! Wow, sounds like you've really had a lot to deal with. And here I thought you were living life like an extended vacation. :)
      I'm glad you're actively trying to improve your health and try different approaches. My husband's changed a lot in terms of lifestyle, but there are other areas that could use tweaking.
      Hugs

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