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Live Through Us at The Burrow

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July 2017

Recent Catastrophe

I haven’t blogged in forever, but there’s a reason. I’m lazy. Well, and I don’t have time. I’ve had to stop writing for nearly a week at this point. See, my husband got an abscessed tooth and was put on amoxicillin. He had two teeth removed and remained on the drug for a while. Two days after his last dose, he broke out into a rash.

I was at work and having my own rash trouble. It was under my right armpit. When my husband texted me that he had an all over body rash, I put two and two together. My coworkers tell me it’s shingles. Next thing I know, I’m standing topless in the manager’s office while two female managers stick their noses in my unshaved, rashy pit. I was not prepared for this level of intimacy.

I was told it wasn’t shingles, and I figured it to be a wardrobe malfunction and bought me some Body Glide for future use. It is a tiny bottle and $8. I have no idea if it works or not, but it comes highly recommended by my runner friends.

That night’s not that big of a deal, but the next morning, my husband and dad go to Cookeville for the day to run some errands. Good thing too, because the reaction got worse. My husband ran into the walk-in associated with our doctor and was given a steroid shot. A few hours later, on the interstate headed back home, his tongue starts to swell. We’re thinking it’s a reaction to the steroids. It wasn’t.

He ran to our doctor and was immediately seen. They gave him another shot and brought every doctor in the building there to look at him, said it was the worst reaction they had seen to amoxicillin. He was given 4 Rx’s (Pepsid, Sinclair, Medrol-a tapering steroid, and Benedryl) on top of his maintenance Allegra, which he has since doubled in dose.

This was Monday afternoon. Wednesday morning, my dad is in Ohio, and my husband wakes up at three AM itching so bad he can’t go back to sleep. By ten that night, we head to the ER. We’re told his steroids from Monday wore off and he’s filled with a cocktail of IV steroids, Sinclair, Pepsid-basically what he’s already on, just mega doses. A couple of hours later, we’re sent home, better but scared of another attack.

We got home at three AM Thursday morning. I went to work Thursday night, 3-11, but there was another catch. In our late night stupid of terror, we left the inside light on in the car and the battery died. I had to drive the truck. Not a big deal, but I’m not used to it, and so my leg hurt all night from having to use that ginormous clutch. (It’s not a small truck).

The ER doctor told us to ask his regular doctor to double the steroid pack. We called and left a message. While I’m at work, they call to say they’ve called in a Rx. As I’m sure you know, my husband is disabled and unable to drive. He walks down the road begging at neighbors’ doors until he finds one at home. The neighbor takes him to Crossville, a thirty minute trip one way, to get (get this) the WRONG Rx. Gotta love doctors. For whatever reason, my husband pays for it anyway (eye roll). I call the on-call doctor and get the correct one called in. Right as the pharmacy closed. Sigh. So I got to spend the rest of the night waiting to see if my husband was going to go into anaphylaxis, and I was going to have to leave work, drive the 30 minutes home coupled with the hour to the closest hospital that won’t kill him all in time for him to survive. OK. Other than that, Thursday was pretty good. Work was going to throw out seven pounds of chicken tenders, so my freezer now has several meals of chicken in it.

Friday (no, the adventure isn’t over yet, sorry) we took a trip to Crossville, the pharmacy we told them not to send it to, and picked up his new steroids. A bit of relief spread through us. I then set out in the newly charged car that afternoon for work and run over this‚ÄĒ

Yee gads!! While I’m trying to change my tire into my donut spare and call work to say I’ll be late, a guy shows up to help. Nice of him, but pointless as I have two different sized lug bolts on this wheel. Great. My husband gets the same neighbor to meet me. They change my tire, find one of the lugbolts is stripped, and follow me to the tire place not far from our house. I’m thinking, I’ll leave the car here, grab the truck, go to work, and pick it up Monday. It needed four new tires anyway, what’s the big deal?

The big deal was they weren’t up for that. They wanted me to stay and wait. So I did. Two hours. By the time I got the car home, there was no reason to go into work, my husband and I are fighting, and I can’t drive the car to work anyway because there’s only three lug nuts on the one tire. I fell exhausted into bed and slept from 8:15 to after midnight and tried to sleep the rest of the night after that.

Yesterday was pretty normal, except for my sore leg, which wasn’t as sore as Thursday. Today is Sunday, my last day until Thursday to work. We already have plans for doctor, dentist, and Dollywood visits (our last trip to Splash Country for the year ūüė¶ ) Monday-Thursday. School starts the next week. Oh, and it’s tax free weekend. Just when you thought work couldn’t get worse. Heaven help me.

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Is Publishing Dead? (aka, is making a living as a writer still possible?)

Of course, anything is possible, but let’s answer this correctly. No, publishing is not dead, not yet; neither are agents or traditional publishers. But. It is changing, and quite possibly not for the better. I read a recent article on an agency’s website while querying this morning. We’re not a fit, but I thought I would read their stuff anyway, and I’m glad I did. The agency’s name is Doug Grad Literary Agency, Inc, and the article can be found here amongst their FAQ section. (They’re also looking for an intern at the time of writing this post, something I would LOVE to do but can’t-le sigh!) Here is what they had to say (I apologize for the font, but that’s the best Word press allows.):

Publishing is an odd business, as you will come to learn if you get involved in it.¬†¬†The business model is completely obsolete, dating back to the Great Depression.¬†¬†In the 1920s and earlier, books were sold on a non-returnable basis, like clothing, or food (non-returnable from seller to manufacturer‚ÄĒcustomers return things all the time).¬†¬†There weren‚Äôt very many bookstores in the U.S., the population was about one half to one third of what it is today, and relatively few people had college educations, or enough leisure time to read.¬†¬†That‚Äôs why first editions of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway are so rare and expensive‚ÄĒit‚Äôs not just that they were great writers, but that a first printing in those days would be about 2,000 or 3,000 copies.¬†¬†When the stock market crashed and the Depression set in, bookstores would have gone out of business if they hadn‚Äôt convinced publishers to make the books fully returnable.¬†¬†It kept the publishers afloat as well as the stores, and maybe even a few printers.¬†¬†When the economy picked up going into WWII and the post war years, publishers and bookstores didn‚Äôt go back to the pre-war model.¬†¬†But our soldiers had gotten so hooked on reading paperbacks while fighting in Europe or the Pacific, that they took their habit back home with them, and publishing flourished.¬†¬†In the 1960s and 1970s, a bestselling paperback would sell 6-12 million copies.¬†¬†But in the late 1980s, hardcovers began to take precedence over paperbacks.¬†¬†There was a perceived prestige factor associated with hardcovers, and publishers loved the much higher cover price.¬†¬†As they started to price themselves out of the market, the discount booksellers came to the rescue, as well as the on-line booksellers.¬†¬†But a recent study showed that while the U.S. population has increased, readership has not.¬†¬†As technology has taken over our lives, the competition for our leisure time has grown fierce, from TV and movies to cable TV (500 channels!), and the internet.¬†¬†And it seems as though our leisure time has decreased and become fragmented–we‚Äôre all working harder to stay at the same level.¬†¬†We as a nation have also gotten out of the habit of reading books, especially compared to Europe, but publishers continue to pump out more and more books every year.¬†¬†As costs have risen and profit margins have shrunk, and per title sales have decreased (a mega-bestseller today is 2-4 million copies), publishers have tried to make up their profits by publishing more titles.¬†¬†Great, you say, more books are being published!¬†¬†But since overall readership levels have remained static for 20 years, that means that each title is selling fewer copies.¬†¬†Kind of a long-winded way of saying, ‚ÄúYou do the math‚Ķ‚ÄĚ

I went to a book signing in Knoxville last year for a NYT bestseller, and was saddened, terrified even at what I saw. This man, this man who had a successful career in the technological world and quit all that to write full time was standing before me and dozens of children asking them for help. “Please, tell your friends about this book. Write reviews about this book. Share this book on social media.” How sad is it that we have come to a time when that is required of a NYT bestselling author!!

I still remember querying my first picture book, a sad thing it was, to publishers and agents. The publishers actually responded better than the agents, but the difference was staggering. If I were to query that book now, I would be ignored by every one of them. A great book gets ignored by most now.

So, where am I going with this? Good question! #1, read the FAQ section in the link I provided. I wish we were a fit, because I really like the guy’s personality¬†from what I can tell, but alas, so goes it. His history of publishing comment got me to thinking. At the present time, it looks rather bleak. I asked around (non-writers) “Tell me a household author’s name that’s new since Stephanie Meyer.” No one could. But look how publishing has changed over the last century and surely will again. Everything does. So little is the same any more, not even nature, which is terribly terribly sad. But I see people all the time who have grown sick of tech, who have thrown out their TV’s. Tech may be a fad, it may destroy the world, there is no way to know. There never was a way to know. All we can do is do what we love whether it brings us fortune or not.

I work a terrible job to pay the bills. I write to pay my desires. Maybe one day they will coalesce, but I’m not holding my breath, nor am I going to worry about it. I think the mentality that they must be one and the same is the 40’s cliche, “What do you do?” that still haunts society now. What difference does it make? Shouldn’t we ask instead, “What is your passion?” or “Tell me about yourself.”? (Unfortunately that second one is reserved for interviews and therefore it’s answer is already programmed into our brain and more than likely untrue. So it’s probably a good thing it isn’t used socially.)

What do I do? I try my best to be a good servant of my God. I try my best to be a good wife, mother, daughter (aka family member) in whatever way I am needed. I try my best to take care of myself, and I try my best to balance all of this together. What do you do?

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