It was a combination of bad timing and perhaps my own naivety that caused me to originally abandon my first novel before it finally made it to print last year. (The Nestries, A Fairytale for All Ages) After being rejected repeatedly, I took a short sabbatical, visiting with my brother at our beloved childhood home.
We often discussed issues he dealt with every day in caring for his mother-in-law who was suffering from dementia. She was now having hallucinations, he said.
Although they were disturbing to her, my brother was intrigued by the fantastic episodes she experienced, and after relating them to me, so was I.
I immediately considered writing another kind of fantasy – one based on the harrowing delusions of a dementia patient. I would call it “Indians on my Dresser” and people of every age would want to read it.
I was hesitant to approach the patient for details, however, because even if she were mentally capable of communicating them to me – which she clearly wasn’t, I was loath to capitalize on her tragedy.
And as I pondered my own dilemma, it suddenly occurred to me that her dilemma was far worse than mine! The fact is, no one has ever come back from dementia and told the world what it was like!
It was at that point my direction became clear. That was the story I needed to tell – about the terrible journey into the devastating fog of Alzheimer’s disease.
I would write it from the perspective of the patient as she experienced it, from the first onset to the final terrible stages.
That day, I borrowed my brother’s copy of “The 36-Hour Day,” which became my bible, as it had become his, and I kept it beside me as I wrote. I thoroughly researched the net and got even more valuable information from the Alzheimer’s Association.
I picked the brains of everyone I knew who knew someone or cared for someone with the disease. Amazingly, when I asked them to share their experiences with me, each one opened up and spoke freely, so that it was a simple matter of transferring the copious data into book form, which was done rather quickly, because my compulsion to get the book to market was great.
Lots of folks were writing books about Alzheimer’s. If mine were to get the attention it deserved, I needed to get it out there before something similar came along. So I decided to by-pass the tedious submission process and published the book myself.
The result is “Into the Fog” which is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle format. Although it isn’t a best seller (yet) my continued hope is that people who read the book will feel that they’ve taken away something valuable when the last page is turned – understanding hopefully, but perhaps more important than anything else, a personal plan for the future, no matter what direction it may take the reader.
(Although the cardinal rule for writers is consistently “write what you know,” I also believe it’s important to write what you feel. You can always learn what you don’t know.)
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