Blogs by Laura Spinella
12/22/2010 5:47:28 AM
Let the countdown begin! We’re less than two weeks out from BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S release. It’s a last push for the book, a chance to sell you on Mia and Flynn, maybe drop a teaser or two about more tempestuous plot points. However, before sprinting to the finish, I want to share the irony of the timing and what I was doing three Decembers ago. It’s a few light years removed from this moment, though this moment is not completely removed from the mayhem of December 2007. It’s a point of view that makes this blog not about a novel’s debut but about the perspective required to persevere.
Three years ago I was agentless, having parted ways with my first book representative. At the time, I was flirting with my current agent. She had read BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, rejected it, but offered me a gracious courtesy: her advice. Literary agents, particularly those of her caliber, do not give detailed guidance on books they’re not representing. It began with, “When I think of what this book could be…” From there she fluidly, professionally, and succinctly outlined her ideas about what the manuscript lacked. I had the golden ticket in my hand, and I knew it.
It’s an important detail because I want you to know where I was when I started implementing those ideas. The major revisions for BEAUTIFUL DISASTER began to take shape on the floor of Children’s Hospital in Boston. Okay, some of it took place in a blue vinyl chair that converted to a bed, and some from a cold but well lit window seat with a Dickens’ view of Longwood Avenue. I spent a good chunk of that December there, as well as the following March. Though I have my daughter’s permission to share whatever parts, or lack of parts, that involve her medical history, I’ll keep it simple. She underwent a colectomy, removing her entire large intestine. I know, big gasp, “Yuck,” “How horrifying,” and my personal favorite, “Really? But you can’t live without your colon…” Uh, she’d beg to differ with you on that point. I said I’d keep it simple, but I assure you, there was nothing simple about it. Everything from nine hours of surgery to the peculiarities of finessing an ostomy bag—something I’d never fathomed—to finding a wardrobe that would camouflage the bag and suit a sixteen-year old. In hindsight, Forever 21 really needs to up its game regarding their line of ostomy flattering attire. The entire experience was complex, unpredictable, and scary—painful, if you were Jamie. But it was never without a dash of humor, wherever we could find it.
A million little things remain crisp in my mind: hearing Indiana Jones on the TV at three a.m. as the surgical prep took much longer than expected. Jamie, pushed past any adult limit, asking to go home around a quarter after four. Me, a half a breath from answering, “Okay, forget this, let’s go.” During that span, I have no problem admitting who was the bigger braver person. The next day there were hourly updates from the operating room that translated into, “Your kid is still breathing…” And I have never been so on-fire furious as when they brought chicken fingers to the kid in the bed next to Jamie’s when she wasn’t getting food for a week. To this day, I offer my sincere apology to the nurse whose misfortune it was to cross my path. At some point, I asked Jamie’s surgeon, “Exactly how do you get a colon out?” From his vast breadth wisdom came the reply, “About an inch at a time.” It was the perfect answer, because it was really all I needed to know. Much of what occurred on the ninth floor Children’s Hospital was about control, and it was out of my hands. I suppose it’s one of those situations where you give it to God or Dr. Robert Shamberger, hoping that they’re one in the same.
Now, you might ask where the common thread is between major surgery and publishing a novel. Well, it’s all about control. Three years removed from that moment and I recall those December days in an effort to keep these in perspective. We’ve officially entered the realm of careful what you wish for… Good or bad, I’m going to get it. I can’t change anything. I can’t do anything different. It’s out of my hands. It’s surreal having zero power over something that for so long I had autonomous control. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. I’ll have to let you know. But for now, I’ll heed the good doctor’s advice, move forward, and keep it incremental, taking things an inch at a time.
Blogger’s Note: Jamie, who suffered from ulcerative colitis, made a full recovery, which included a second “reconnection” surgery, eliminating the ostomy bag. She is a freshman at the University of Georgia. You can visit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, www.ccfa.org for more information on these diseases.
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More Blogs by Laura Spinella
Home Field Advantage - Thursday, February 17, 2011
Transaction Complete - Saturday, February 12, 2011
We Are Go For Launch - Wednesday, February 09, 2011
And This Happened Where? - Wednesday, January 12, 2011
December Perspectives - Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Show Must Go On - Tuesday, December 07, 2010
A Drum Roll, Please... - Friday, November 26, 2010
One Author's Eye Candy - Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Witchcraft of Writing - Wednesday, November 03, 2010
The Eureka of Cumulative Research - Thursday, October 14, 2010
There's Something Odd About Us - Monday, September 20, 2010
Summer Whine - Saturday, September 11, 2010
This has Nothing to do with Pitbulls - Thursday, July 29, 2010
Artistry & Bad Brakes - Monday, July 19, 2010
Pack Up Your Troubles and Just Get Happy - Friday, July 09, 2010
Character Analysis 101 - Sunday, June 27, 2010
Ticket to Travel - Thursday, June 17, 2010
Bound for Publication - Monday, June 07, 2010