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.