That Piece: A Publishing Milestone

Last week, I wrote an essay that was different from a lot of what I’ve written before. First off, it was personal, but also the most political piece I’ve written. Second, it was current and extremely timely. Usually, I’m behind. Even if I know something is coming up, I can’t force my writing process. So while I might know about it in advance, by the time I am struck with inspiration, write, revise, polish and submit, whatever I wrote about is no longer upcoming as much as it is “just passed”.

My piece last week was about the Affordable Healthcare Act. I wrote it last Monday and it went live early that Friday morning on The Huffington Post. What makes it special is that being “ahead” of an issue means that I have the opportunity to affect real change, be a part of it. My essay is about my death (both past and future). I died on my 25th birthday, and a large part of that death is owed to my not having health insurance. I didn’t have insurance because I was deemed uninsurable due to preexisting conditions. So when I woke up with a high fever, I tried to treat myself with fluids and Gatorade (electrolytes and all). Turned out not going to the hospital was a mistake. I had two major strokes, several grand mal seizures and my fever reached 109.6. And then at the hospital, being packed with ice, I died for several minutes (ballpark it at twelve).

Obviously, I came back. Perhaps that’s what makes my story special to people, because I didn’t just die, but I returned. But without the ACA, I will die again. Because I still have all of those preexisting conditions though now I’ve accumulated four more including an autoimmune disease that ravaged my kidneys and a bone marrow disorder, courtesy of chemo used to treat my autoimmune disease. Private insurance has lifetime caps that I would blow through in a week. I am as uninsurable as ever, and any GOP proposed plans do not protect people with preexisting conditions (look at the plans themselves, not what political salesmen are saying). So I died, and I will die again if the ACA is repealed.

My essay weaves my death in 2009 in with facts about the ACA and its consequences. Unbiased, nonpartisan facts. I don’t pretend the ACA is perfect or ideal – I don’t state that it doesn’t need amendments or that certain demographics find themselves in that limbo place, making healthcare less affordable than before. But I focus on actual figures, studies and data and numbers. It’s easier to fix something in place than to totally scrap something and start over. It makes more sense too.

This piece was special because it was my most personal and most political piece, and I actually pulled off hard fact with raw personal experience and made it work. It’s special because I actually took parts of my memoir’s (in progress) first chapter, which is the first time I’ve ever lifted excerpts from my manuscript and shared it with anyone. And this piece became a milestone because of what happened with it.

At first, I thought it would be in the Huffington Post’s Voices section. But when I woke up it looked like it was placed in the Politics section’s main page, which obviously has more readership than Voices. Then I was surprised (pleasantly, shocked really) that it was actually promoted to their front/main page and was trending. As in, a person could just go to huffingtonpost.com and there I was first thing. That is so huge. It’s a moment that I’ll remember, a milestone, and major publication goal I can tick off my list.

To put it in perspective, The Huffington Post has 55 sections. Each section has between 25-40 stories on it’s first/front page (the average is 32). Their main front page has roughly 70 stories at any given time. Using this crude math, that means a total of roughly 1760 stories appear on their site on any given day (doesn’t mean this number is new stories, just what they keep up there) and out of that figure, my piece was deemed important/special/relevant or whatever standard they use to beat out all of those other pieces that remained in their specific sections. Most of the stories on their main front page are done by editors and staff of The Huffington Post, so even if it feels a little weird, I’m going to pat myself on the back and consider it an achievement I can own and feel proud of.

This piece was my first:

*Particularly timely.

*Front page.

*Greatest exposure.

*Memoir excerpt.

*Political with appropriate data.

*Personal/medical piece.

Published.

That is a whole lot of firsts and I am grateful and proud of each and every one of them.

And so I don’t just go on and on, here is the link to my actual piece (now almost a week later, it’s back on the Politics tab, which I am more than happy with). Thanks for reading and sharing the link to my article if it moves you. It’s important that people understand it’s not liberal propaganda that people will die under current GOP proposals and the repeal of the ACA. I’ve been there and done that. Hopefully after reading, people will think, “Now I know someone.”

-DMW

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