This is the story of my book. Bird’s Eye View is a collection of stories of my life lived in health care – from a failed nursing student, to a health care bureaucrat, to the mom of a child with a disability to a patient and family engagement consultant to a woman living with breast cancer. It is written for patients + families and anybody who works in health care – clinicians, staff, health faculty students and administrators. It is for anybody who has an inkling that stories can change the world.
I started writing this book two and a half years ago after I left my job at a children’s hospital. I was in deep grief when I resigned, but everybody said to me: Now you can work on your book! So that’s what I did for three whole months. Then BAM I got diagnosed with breast cancer. That was kind of a bummer and shut down the book action for a very long time.
During those dark hours, I barely managed to keep a journal, but I am thankful I did. I called my journal Grace Period although I was hardly graceful. I was what Arthur Frank calls in The Wounded Storyteller a narrative wreck.
I finished treatment and waited out my narrative wreck. You may have read some of my narrative wreck pieces here on my blog. I was so neck-deep in crisis and grief that I couldn’t continue the book. Plus, the book was about kindness and compassion in health care and to be honest, as a cancer patient, I wasn’t being treated with much kindness or compassion in health care.
I put the book aside and took poetry classes, regularly visited my therapist, tried meditation, did some paid consulting work and went for many long walks.
A year and a half after I was diagnosed I could finally bear to look at the book again. Since some time had passed, I started writing more reflective chapters about having cancer. I added them to the words I had already written about being the mom of a kid with a disability. The caregiver had became the patient and this was hard stuff for me to reconcile.
In January I finished a manuscript, all 100,000 words of it. I started shopping around for a publisher and received a number of rejections. This was not unexpected but it sure was disheartening. Some of the rejections were plain mean. One Toronto publisher said: I passed your manuscript around to our editors and there was no enthusiasm for it. Ouch.
After every rejection, I paused to lick my wounds. The Toronto-publisher route was clearly not working well for me. Then I was introduced to Hambone Publishing in Australia.
I’ll leave the Hambone story for another time. It is a beautiful tale of serendipity and connection. I will say they are a perfect fit for me. The manuscript is with my editor now and she is doing the hard work of a structural edit. 100,000 words is too long. I’m very pleased that I found a fabulous illustrator – she is a local Vancouver artist – for the book’s cover.
I’m going to do this book my way. I’m committed to the Patients Included principles for events. I will bring other caregivers and patients along with me on this ride.
Bird’s Eye View will be released in the fall of 2019. If you would like to follow along with my book adventures, fill out the form here to get on my mailing list. You can also follow @birdseyeviewbook on Instagram.
I’m doing the thing I’m most afraid of, and I’m both scared and excited all at the same time. xo.