Success!

I am pleased to announce that I have finished the rough draft of Chapter One of my Lizzie book. After extensive research and nine years of stops and starts, I am finally getting this down on paper. It feels terrific!

I needed a strategy in putting together this book, and it took a long time to figure it out. Once solved, the writing went so much faster. I stumbled upon the answer while reading about writing a fiction novel. The book, Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland taught me how to build and use chronological order as the framework while still focusing on themes. My natural tendency is to be a thematic writer, and I am also very much into process. These two things can confuse the reader because exploring themes and processes can make the story hard to follow. I discovered this after writing three previous drafts of this chapter (I am slow, but I get it eventually. :-)) I followed a strict chronological order governed by an actual calendar of each year. Linking the day of the week to the date made each event more real to me.

My first step was to consult the primary source journals and letters to get actual dates. Then I filled in the gaps with the secondary sources. It helped keep me organized and focused.

I have a little confession to make. For the longest time, I’ve had this sense that I was working against the clock. It’s not that I’m all that old at 64, but I keep remembering how Madelon Bedell could not finish her second volume of her Alcott biography (which was on the sisters) because she died of cancer. I can’t even imagine how she must have felt knowing that she would not be able to finish. I did not want the same thing to happen to me, but I was having difficulty getting anywhere with this book until now.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in very different ways. For me, it resulted in anxiety and depression, a severe body tremor, and the loss of my job of 27 years. Losing that job (and being able to collect unemployment) opened up the opportunity to focus on my health. I had several symptoms that affected the quality of life. After nine months of trying out various medications and going to physical therapy, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Fortunately, the medicine that I am taking has alleviated most of the symptoms, making me productive again. As a result of the diagnosis, I decided to retire, which now leaves me lots of time to focus on this book.

Knowing I have Parkinson’s does indeed put a deadline on my work. It is hard to say how long I can mitigate the symptoms. But this just fuels my desire all the more to get this done. I am thankful that I have at least some warning regarding my health as it is sharpening my focus on my work. It’s all a good thing.

Especially since I finished the draft of Chapter One!

In a small way, all this helps me to relate to my dear Lizzie all the more.

22 thoughts on “Success!

  1. I am horrified by your Parkinson’s Susan; but gratified that your med.s are at least helping you cope with it.

    I am ABSOLUTELY THRILLED about your work on the “Lizzie” book. Can NOT wait to see it.
    Over and above that, I hope you have an absolutely blessed retirement and that life treats you kindly Susan.
    YOU DESERVE IT!

    Best Regards-Alex

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  2. Deeply sorry to hear of all the struggles that this past year has brought, particularly the health concerns! But your progress with the book sounds great! I hope you will have the strength to soldier on because this book will be your greatest all-time achievement that people all over the world will love!

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  3. There is truly light behind every cloud. You have found your light. Keep up with your true passion. I would eagerly wait for your book, now all the more. May God guide you and I sincerely wish for your better health.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. congratulations! At last a silver lining in the 2020 cloud. I’m sorry to hear about your Parkinson’s diagnosis and job loss. I, too, lost the job I enjoyed (85-90% of the time). I’ve had time to catch up on my reading and had the opportunity of meeting Louisa via the time travel magic of Zoom!

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  5. I’m sure you won’t remember me, Susan, but I briefly corresponded with you last year… I was so overjoyed to get the newsletter update telling of your milestone that I had to come congratulate you! That is amazing, that your hard work is paying off and this biography is taking shape…
    I have been dealing with my own set of debilitating health issues so I can really relate to worrying about how that affects writing… My heart goes out to you as you face so many challenges so bravely! In a way, it’s fitting that someone who understands hardship writes Lizzie’s biography, though, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ll have compassion and sympathy some writers might lack.
    Can’t wait to hear more about your future milestones! They are meaningful for me on their own, and because they encourage me to keep going, too!

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    1. Hi Larissa, I remember you well, thanks for writing and for your encouraging words. I will keep you in my prayers re: your health issues. I so enjoyed our conversations. How is your book coming along?

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      1. Thank you! You’re really kind. I’ll keep you in my thoughts as well!
        I miss our conversations too! I was just re-reading chapter 4 of Little Women Part 1 the other day and it mentioned Amy can play 12 tunes and I immediately thought of how we discussed the possibility of Lizzie and May enjoying music much in the same way Anna and Louisa did theater.
        Because my health issues greatly affect my musculoskeletal system and I spent literally the whole year bedridden, I couldn’t type or handwrite or even do much research… Now things have been a little more manageable and I’m back at it. I’m re-familiarizing myself with my notes and outlines at the moment but I hope to get back to actually writing soon!

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  6. Have you tried voice dication into your phone or tablet? My hands were really stiff and made typing tough. Voice dictation takes some getting used to and you do get a lot of typos but honestly, I could not have written my chapter without it. I am sorry you had such a hard year! I will pray for you.

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    1. I have and it’s not going well so far because I lose track of what I’m trying to write, somehow? But I’ve found that typing in short blocks of time (5-15 minutes depending on the day) and taking a small break before continuing allows me to type for long enough to see some progress at the end of the day. I’m glad that voice dictation works for you, though! I’m sure it’s really a life saver!
      Thank you for your prayers! It means a lot and as always, you’re in my mind as well.

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      1. Dear Susan, you are in true solidarity with Louisa in her later years: so much to say and so hard to write! May your friends both here and above give you the strength you need!

        Love & prayers, Elizabeth

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      2. Thanks! I talk to myself all the time anyway so that’s why voice dictation works for me. Glad that you are finding ways to work at well. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

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  7. Dearest Susan,

    I’ve been avoiding the online world for a while & am just seeing this post. Congratulations on your writing progress! That’s SO EXCITING. I have to tell you a secret: I’m pretty sure, after ten years reading & blogging, that in all honesty Little Women is my favorite book. How crazy is that? She snuck up on me and claimed my heart. ❤

    I'm so happy to hear you have so much more time to commit to writing now — but so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I know exactly what you mean about being better able to relate to Lizzie: I have suffered an allergy for about sixteen months now that made typing, walking, working, etc. extremely difficult. I'm only now reclaiming myself — and I still have pain. It changed me in good ways — to experience that. But of course it has been an enormous challenge too.

    I'm praying for you, and wishing you patience, resilience, and literary joy. Just writing is such a joy — knowing you created what goes onto the paper.

    Also, I can't wait to read your book. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So good to hear from you! Thank you and I am so sorry for your health challenges. These things are very hard but many secret blessings can be unearthed as well, and you have done that. Kudos! I will pray for you too and thank you for yours! I have a wonderful editor that I use for hire to smooth out any problems with the chapter. And then, on to chapter two!

      Little Women has usurped Gone with the Wind?? 🙂 I still think that book was the most fun read I ever had.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Susan! Good to know you have a great editor. 🙂 Yes, I think it has! Not because I don’t still adore Gone with the Wind & find it brilliant, but because — well, it’s Little Women. If I could only HAVE one book, LW would be it. x

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