Update: Chapter 3 first draft complete; Chapter 2 in the can

I haven’t given you an update since April of 2021 on my progress but I am pleased now to say that Chapter 2 has been edited and the first draft of Chapter 3 is complete.

Chapter 3 proved quite the challenge.  I covered the seven-month-long Fruitlands experiment (June, 1843 through January, 1844) and the Alcotts’ brief time in Still River before returning to Concord (January to October 1844).

Fruitlands, from 1919 and the present day.
“Brick Ends,” Still River, MA
512 fruitlands - gathering the grain
At Fruitlands, gathering the grain

It is no exaggeration to say that there is a mountain of information on this important yet short period in their lives. The Fruitlands era is difficult to understand, let alone write about succinctly. The only way that works for me is the immersion technique — take as many notes as I wish so as to be completely drenched in the philosophies, emotions and turmoil of that period, and then begin to consolidate before writing. Getting down the first draft synthesizes it further. The editing process will complete the trimming so that only what matters to the story of Lizzie comes through in the end. It is a draining, tedious, and yet exhilarating experience. You really have to love the process, and I do. I am so blessed that my various health problems interfere little with writing.

During this time, I had an opportunity to read a variety of stimulating books, from fiction, to spiritual, to academic, many of which I have reviewed for BookTrib.com. I revised an old practice of journaling as I read which is helping me to discover a bolder voice within. I believe that voice is emerging in Chapter 3.

BIO-Logo-itunesI have also found tremendous support in a round table group of women from Biographers International who are devoted to rediscovering the lives of forgotten women. We meet monthly for zoom meetings and discuss our work, and we email a lot in between. This group of accomplished, published authors has done much to build my confidence and chase away doubt.

cover smCertainly the inclusion of my essay in the recently published anthology, The Forgotten Alcott: Essays on the Artistic Legacy and Literary Life of May Alcott Nieriker (Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group) has done much embolden me as a writer. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up in a book with so many distinguished Alcott scholars! Or that anything I would write would end up in college and university libraries. As Amy Grant once sang, “Life is a curious thing!”

I begin today to assemble my research for Chapter 4 and the Hillside era. It is here where Lizzie speaks for the first time. I can hardly wait to immerse myself in her thoughts.

p.s. Your support has been phenomenal! I am deeply grateful to all of you for accompanying me on this grand journey.

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14 thoughts on “Update: Chapter 3 first draft complete; Chapter 2 in the can

  1. I am very happy to hear you are progressing so well with your “Lizzie” book, & that your health is not slowing you down,
    but am grieved to hear you have those issues, Susan. I will pray for you! I just got “The Forgotten Alcott” yesterday. Much too soon & much too big to make any serious comments yet, but I did notice you quoted from Ms. LaPlante’s
    book re Lizzie & May. I remember you once complimented me re my noticing the bond between them, as it was
    not brought up in ‘’L.W.” re Beth & Amy, but you said that it was a good book, & so I read it & it was there I noticed, in the exact same quote ending in “there is nothing now for me now in this ugly old house”, when Lizzie left, even though May still had her 2 other sisters & her mother with her that I realized how deep the bond between them had to be.
    And this was only strengthened when I read “Lizzie Alcott’s Hillside Diary”, which you were so nice to forward us,
    where I saw such an enormous percentage of it was spent on Lizzie doing this with May & doing that with May.
    They just must have been “Besties” weren’t they Susan?? It would be so nice if there were any written memo’s
    re the communication or thoughts between them. Best Regards-Alex


    1. May’s 1852 diary gives some further information regarding their relationship. When you read my essay in The Forgotten Alcott, you’ll see some of that. And thank you for the prayers!


      1. Hi Susan! If I understand your essay correctly, May tried to deny Lizzie’s decline/demise by running away from everything & then developed a psychosomatic illness in sympathy with Lizzie’s which worried their mother, as it made her afraid she was going to lose another daughter. Is that right?? Thank you Susan. Best Regards!!


  2. Hello Alex! Yes, this is truly magnificent and Susan certainly is God’s blessing to all of us avid Alcott Family lovers! I have been trying to post several comments but have been having trouble with the website not letting me in and always making me change passwords.


    1. Hi Elizabeth!! I certainly understand how the computer/internet can make you change passwords until you don’t know which end is up anymore; and I can also sympathize with one of your previous posts how the closeness of the sisterhoods of the March/Alcott sisters can make you feel lonely. I feel the same way, A LOT! Anyway, it’s nice to talk to you again, Best Regards.


  3. Hi Susan! I am deeply grateful for your tremendous work and that you are well enough to write and Lizzie’s story is making progress! That’s the kind of news I love to hear!

    It turns out that The Forgotten Alcott is so expensive right now even after the discount ($148/$125)
    that I will need to wait a while and hopefully it will come out on Kindle. I want to be sure to read it!! Right now on Kindle I’m reading the biography with “Russet 👢 Boots” in the title. The story just never gets old for me.
    Love, Elizabeth


    1. Oh I loved that biography! The Forgotten Alcott is available on the Kindle but I suggest you wait. The book had to be withdrawn because it went to press without the editors’ permission and the book is riddled with technical mistakes! Eeesh. I’ll update everyone when the corrected version is released.


  4. Hi Susan, are the technical mistakes only in the Kindle version?? Hi Elizabeth, I am very glad you are back in our conversation,& am sorry for the difficulties you’ve been having. I am intrigued by the biography with “Russet 👢 Boots” in the title. What’s that all about?? It’s a joy to talk to both of you!!


      1. I also particularly liked a quote from one of your co-writers, Daniel Shealy, from the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julian, that, “the Alcott girls were society in themselves, and Concord would have been crippled without them.” Best Regards!!


      2. Don’t want to give away too much of your book, but among the many charming incidents with May,I especially loved where you quoted her, “How generous is Louisa to willingly pay my expenses & stay quietly at home herself…
        I think her very noble.” What amazing sisters!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Just found out right now for all “Little Women” lovers they’re showing the 1994 Movie with Wynona Rider, Susan Sarandon, Claire Daines today at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Coast Time or 5:00 P.M. Eastern Time on channel 352, the B.Y.U. Channel. They so seldom show this picture anymore, so I hope all you L.W. lovers will be able to watch. Best Regards!!


  5. Not to worry Susan! I am not an academic, only a “L.W.” lover, who is absolutely blown away and
    in love with the 4 real-life Alcott sisters who were an inspiration for that great book. And I am
    forever grateful for your being our guide in the wilderness to those lives. (I also appreciate your
    giving me the info about that book that Elizabeth liked so much.) I hope you are having a good day
    today, and you too, Elizabeth, if you’re reading this. Best Regards to You Both!!


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