0 Jeff Salyards | Monthly Archive | August
Archive | August, 2012

No Lollygagging Allowed

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With all of the major medical craziness (hopefully) behind us with Piper, I can turn my attention back to things like sleeping and work. Oh, yeah, and Book II of my series. I’d always intended to try to get Scourge published, so I can’t say I was completely writing in a vacuum, but I certainly wasn’t working under any deadlines, so I could pick and choose my spots (that’s generous phrasing for “procrastinate whenever the heck I wanted”).

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Now, being under contract to complete the rest of the Bloodsounder’s Arc series (two books for sure, and possibly more), I can’t lollygag. Or meander, amble, dawdle, or anything else leisurely or slothful. I need to be productive in a purposeful way. (I’m not even sure what that means, but it sort of sounds good.) Having a solid deadline for finishing Book II is a little scary (OK, more than a little), but it’s a great problem to have because it will light a fire under my ass like nothing else.

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So, having looked at the realities (I have a day job and three young kids), I tried to come up with a realistic target/quota every week. I figured 4,000-6,000 words didn’t require a huge suspension of disbelief, and wouldn’t result in horrible burnout or divorce. I don’t know what goals a lot of other writers establish and shoot for, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter and I’m better off not knowing.

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With Piper on the mend, I hunkered down last week and finished with 6,100 words. This is just first draft material, and I’m sure when I come back to it later to revise, some of it won’t even be fit for a shit sandwich. But some sections and scenes felt pretty solid, and will be decent raw material to work with on subsequent drafts. There were nights I didn’t feel like writing at all, but I forced myself to push on through and just get something on the page. It took herculean effort not to stop and revise mid-writing, as I’m wont to do if I don’t check myself, because I knew I probably would have ended up with 358 words for the week. Really good words, maybe. Stellar, even. But woefully short of my goal.

I figure if I make it a point to report the weekly progress going forward, I will shame myself into continuing to produce the words.

Tiny and Helpless. We’re Talking Me Here.

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I am sorry for neglecting you. I really am. But for once, I have a valid excuse. I know, I know, we’ve been down this road before. I don’t blame you for being skeptical. If roles were reversed, I’d be the same way.

My youngest daughter had to have surgery a couple of weeks ago. Ureteral reimplant. Which sounds freaking scary, so even when the doctors explained not only the necessity of performing it but the fact that it was routine, and unlikely to result in any complications, I was still pretty much terrified. Piper is one and a half, and the baby of the family, and no matter how competent the surgeons and staff, or routine the procedure, it’s a tiny little patient, who knows how she will respond to anesthetics, and there is a reason there is malpractice insurance. Stuff happens. Sometimes awful, irreversible, fuck up lives and families kind of stuff.

But we knew about Piper’s kidney condition before she was born, she’s had like 97 urinary tract infections over the last year (slight exaggeration), and her system was really nimble at figuring out ways to juke or outsmart all the antibiotics we threw at her. So, after getting second and third opinions that all confirmed this was the right course of action, there really wasn’t much left to do but put my trust in someone else’s hands and watch my daughter wheeled away on a gurney. Which, I have to say, is one of the most awful things you can witness as a parent. A four hour surgery is no joke, no matter how much the docs try to downplay it.

Still, for all the stress and anxiety it induced, the surgery itself went off without a hitch. And while there are no words to adequately describe how much it absolutely sucked to see my small, helpless daughter with an IV, epidural, catheter, stent bag, heart monitoring stuff, and probably a toaster plugged into her, we knew (or thought) it was a short term thing, and recovery would simply be a matter of time.

She was discharged as expected, and things seemed to be going OK at home until last weekend, when she suddenly developed a fever, was sluggish, refused food, and had massive diarrhea (oversharing, I know, but just trying to give context for the depth of my neglect here). My wife called the doctors, and they advised us to hold off until the fever hit a certain point, and seemed confident it wasn’t an infection of any kind, just likely in the “normal” range for recovery response.

But my wife wasn’t buying it, and I wasn’t really either. Something seemed wrong. So very NOT normal. We took her in, hoping we were just being overprotective parents, because that would mean just a few hours of unpleasantness at the hospital. As it turns out, Piper had not one, but at least two, and possibly three infections raging in that tiny body of hers, C. difficile colitis being the worst offender. We spent another four days there until the infectious disease folks got involved and (hopefully) sorted things out and came up with the right cocktail of meds to treat everything and (hopefully, again) eliminate the necessity of us having to bring her back in.

We got great care while at Loyola Children’s, and I appreciated the doctors proceeding cautiously to make sure we didn’t have a repeat performance. And it’s a really good thing Kris was the one there full-time and I was the one shuttling back and forth, because if it was me stuck in there, I would have been throwing tantrums, holy fits, and jello at nurses. OK, maybe not jello—the nurses really were marvelous on the whole—but I wouldn’t have disguised my frustration and anxiety half as well. I suck at that. Like, seriously. Big time.

Kris handled it like a champ, though, and Piper was discharged yesterday. And now that she is home, she is eating, drinking, and laughing again. Not 100%, but a lot better than she was a few days ago.

Here’s hoping that was a freakish one-off, and we don’t have to go back except for a test in a few weeks.

Needless to say, work, bills, and book stuff suddenly seemed, if not completely trivial, at least vastly unimportant. Things like this have a way of providing perspective, reminding you that there are far bigger things to stress over in life beyond a late fee for a missed credit card payment, or a flat tire, or spoiled milk in the fridge. Although the last one does blow. Especially if you discover it by drinking it and not by noticing the date.

So, I’ve been a little too preoccupied with Life happenings to regularly update anything here. But, presuming there are no further complications, I should be back to it shortly.

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