Thoughts on a Cool Pillow

Maintaining a blog begins to seem like a commitment once it has a certain heft, a certain number of entries.  I’m sure that varies from one blogger to the next.  It isn’t like a paperback journal you can put aside then pick back up years later.  This feels stale if you let it go too long.  It has a life of its own, as all things Internet do.  So when I stopped blogging for the better part of a year, something in me began to nag: Don’t you have anything?  Anything??

Well yes.  I do have something.  It has simply been too painful to put out there.  But I’m beginning to come to terms with it.  So here goes.

A year ago, I finished working on my second book, Hope For a Cool Pillow.  It is a memoir, of sorts.  It is a personal story about caring for my mom and dad in hospice, about learning the economics of healthcare, about coming to terms with how medicine profits and patients suffer from excessive treatment at the end of life.  It is a literary examination of my career and my very prescient parents.

Writing the manuscript was a long, involved process and a dark time for me.  Depressing.  I was, in short, death-obsessed.  I read, researched, and wrote about end-of-life issues (both personal and professional) for a couple of years.  When I thought I had finished, I sent it to my agent who tried to get it published but had no luck.  Then over six months, I completely rewrote the thing.  Renamed it too.  The second time, it was a much better book.  The agent thought so.  She told me it was “glorious”.  She tried again to sell it.  No luck again.  Then I tried to sell it on the independent publishers’ market.  But I have not had any success.

There are probably other options for my book, such as self-publishing, pitching it to Amazon and the like, but I am tired of this process.  I need to move on for myself and for my writing.    Each week, as I read reviews of yet another book published that is similar to mine, I know that my subject matter was timely.  Perhaps there was too much competition.  Perhaps a better idea is to pursue a subject that is not so timely.  Back when I started working on this, in 2010, end-of-life care and death with dignity were not the hot topics they are today.  Many physicians have written books in the meantime.  People who have cared for parents have written books.  And physicians with parents wrote books too.  So the field crowded me out, I suppose, perhaps for a good reason, perhaps not.  Either way, I have to change direction.  As much as death and dying, hospice and palliative care, the economics of elder care, the advantages of advance directives and POLST interest me (and will continue to do so), the process of writing this book made me realize that I need to live my life in the here and now; I need to focus on the positives.  I let my attention wander too far into the dark, and I let it stay there too long.  Much that is good came out of writing this – I made important decisions about my own healthcare and future that are invaluable and I had hundreds of fascinating discussions, but publication does not necessarily have to be part of the picture.  I always assumed that something I wrote, which I found fascinating, would be interesting to others.

Ain’t necessarily so.  At least, not to editors at specific publishing houses in 2014 and 2015.

But stay tuned for snippets, or paragraphs, perhaps full chapters from my manuscript.  I learned a lot over the past 4 years.  There’s no reason not to share some of it right here…