Susan's Blog

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Novel Idea

I have completed a fair draft of my novel, which I’m calling Dirt, A Story of Gardening, Mothering, and a Mid-Life Crisis. I have given out four copies to friends and only one of them has gotten back to me. I expect my sister will have some feedback tomorrow when I see her at my parents’ Cape house (I’m going for the day with Benj and Max; Nat has school).

As always, I am looking for a new project — by the way, the Washington Post has accepted a piece from me which should be out any day, I will post it here when it does — and I stumbled upon something wonderful. I wrote a novel thirteen years ago, when I was in the throes of mothering little Nat and baby Max, and it was based on a lot of what I was going through at the time. This book is about a young mom struggling with nascent OCD, (true), a faintly abusive husband (total fiction) and two small children, the older of whom seems to be a bit off in his development (hmmm). The book also dips into past life stuff and Tarot (I used to have a friend who was heavily invested in past-life beliefs and I went to an aura reader with her a couple of times. All very interesting, but not my cup of decaf. Tarot, however, is a lot of fun, like horoscopes, not in that it tells you the future, but it does tell you what is important to you just by the way you choose to read the cards.)

I realized that this book could be the prequel to my current one! This could very well be my summer project. I may decide to throw out the past life stuff and I’m not at all sure what to do about the husband; he’s different from the newer one. I have the summer to figure it out. Here is the very beginning. It used to be called The Scent of Violets, but I’m thinking now I should try to relate it somehow to Dirt.

Chapter One
It was the third time in two years that Emily’s husband had dislocated her three-year-old son’s shoulder. It happens easier after the first time, the doctor had said laughingly, nervous laughter, as if he needed to reassure himself as much as he did her that this was not child abuse. She sat stoically in the tiny examining room at Mass General, looking beyond the doctor’s shoulder at a tall box that had been placed on the sink counter, ominously labelled “Sharps”: discarded needles, a grim treasure trove.
“You snap it back in place, a little gruesome, a shock of pain for a second, and then it’s done,” the doctor went on. He set the boy in her arms, on her lap. Emily tensed, sat up straighter, ready to do what she had to. But secretly she hated when doctors pulled her into her children’s medical procedures; it seemed so primitive that in the midst of all the high-tech medical protocol, technical jargon and distant doctor attitude there should be this need for her to hold down frightened twitching limbs so that they might be pierced, pricked, Tine-tested. Jack was thankfully taking his cues from his mother and was sitting marvelously quiet, especially considering that his arm was dangling like a broken twig. Only when the doctor touched his shoulder gently did he give a tiny cry, a sucking-in of his breath, and Emily felt tears start in her eyes. She tightened her grip. The baby slept in the backpack, his little mouth wide open and sending forth puffs of milky breath, a sweet comfort during this entire ordeal.

1 comment

Dear Mr. Batchelder:

I happened to be at the library and picked up your wife’s book and debated whether to read it only because I am a Master’s Level Psychologist and already work with developmentally disabled adults. I did want to find out more about how a family is affected by such a devastating disorder and the struggles they go through. Your wife did a wonderful job of depicting the disorder and provided an interesting look at what day to day life is like for families.

I am writing you instead of your wife, because I recognized your family name. I work for HeartShare Human Services of NY, at the Frances Aiello Day Habilitation Center (it used to the Frances Aiello Day Treatment Center). I believe your sister Sarai, once worked at our facility. I never worked with her, but have come across her name in old reports of consumers I now work with, and her name was mentioned in passing by the program director. She remembers her with alot of warmth and respect. I apologize if I am breaching your privacy or that of your family. It is a very small world out there and I felt the need to make a connection and thank you for your continuing efforts to advocate for your son and indirectly for those who will follow him.

It was difficult for me to reach out, but know that I understand what you go through and whatever path life takes you down your love and strength with get you through.


Tsiu (Sue) Lee




— added by Tsiu Lee on Thursday, June 22, 2006 at 10:35 pm

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