Susan's Blog

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Did Not Livre It Alone

The first phase of revising the book with my editor is finished. One more read-through and I turn in this draft, on Monday. After that, more minor edits follow, and then galleys. We are really on our way; I can’t believe it. When I first started writing this book, I was so overwhelmed by the task of talking to other parents about their experiences with creating happy and somewhat balanced lives in the face of autism. I knew there would be a huge learning curve for me, not only of listening to and digesting so many stories and viewpoints, but also learning how to listen and what to ask.

I actually scrapped the project for a while and slipped into a bit of a depression. I felt like worthless shit, to be quite honest. I wasn’t a writer anymore, or so I told Ned. Still, because I actually was still a writer, albeit a frustrated one, I worked on my novel, “Dirt,” for a while and figured I’d just be a novelist from now on.

That is so me. I always think that something HUGE has ended and that all is lost. Mrs. Melodrama. Well, I guess I like it that way, because then the pleasure of the turnaround is so intense!

Once I figured out how to write the thing, it wrote itself, of course. The interviews were a pleasure, though exhausting. Figuring out how to weave in the story of Sue, Ned, Nat, Max, and Ben past and present was a challenge — especially when I had to go back, once again, to Nat’s baby journals and see how sad and lost I was.

It has been really delicious to realize that I and so many others have figured out secrets to happiness, given our particular hardships. I just feel alive with the pleasure of my complete book, full of new and old friends, and also reconnecting to old and new Sue.

One last thing I need for my book (my editor requested this): a short list of books and websites that have given you a feeling of can-do, hopefulness, and optimism, but that showcase these feelings in the context of struggle, despair, sadness, and challenge. These do not have to be autism books. I am asking this of all my readers, (for example, Donna, Don, Andrew, Colleen, Pete, et al.) even those not dealing directly with autism. Give me the name of one book, website, or movie that has made you feel like life is worthwhile, no matter what your struggles are.

I probably won’t list your book, to be honest. But I want to see what produces these feelings of happiness about your life. I will probably take a look at the books you mention, just to get a feel for what inspires other people. Now that I am in the habit of finding this out, I don’t plan on stopping.


When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. I revisit it at least once a year.

— added by Penny on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I just read That Went Well-Adventures in Caring for My Sister by Terrell Harris Dougan. Really great book.

— added by Jill from NJ on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 7:12 pm

My favourite movie…The Shawshank Redemption. Most know it's based on a Stephen King novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" in the book Different Seasons. The subtitle is "Hope Springs Eternal".

— added by Judi on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 7:45 pm

I have my books on shelves and there is a separate autism one.

I don't think you're looking for JD Robb or Jayne Ann Krentz or Mercedes Lackey 🙂 Although ML had a saying in one of the books "children should live, laugh and play"…. which I found just before I got up the nerve to kick out ABA… I can't remember which one… it's a Valdemar and on my shelf at home… but… It was a reminder that I was doing the right thing, to keep going, in a dark time.


— added by farmwifetwo on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Wow, these are all great suggestions!
Farmwifetwo, I didn't know you had bagged ABA!
Judi – Shawshank is one of my top ten movies!!

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Kenneth Branagh's version of Much Ado about Nothing.

The lines from the musical Rent, "There's only us. There's only this. Forget regrets or life will be yours to miss. No other road, no other way…no day but today.

"Devil in the Details" by Jennifer Traig. A teenage Jew by birth decides to become Orthodox to the max because it is an OCD dream (she has a quote that to see religious Jews praying is like a Tourette's convention).

— added by A Momma Just Trying to Make it Through the Day on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 1:13 am

I just came across a book called "Do One Nice Thing" by Debbie Tenzer. She also has a website. It just suggests doing one nice thing once a day, week, month, whatever. Turns out doing something nice for others, makes you feel good too. So many people have been so good w/my son, Frankie. Through the book, I connected to a website called Soldiers Angels and adopted a soldier deployed in Iraq! When I start to complain, I catch myself now!

— added by Kimberly from NJ on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 8:49 am

Not a book or a movie, but rather a magazine: Real Simple

Totally non-autismy, it really helps me feel like I can conquer the chaos little by little.

— added by Judith U. on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 9:10 am

Momma Zen by Karen Mazen Miller


— added by Anonymous on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 9:12 am

The books that Marie Killilea wrote about her daughter, Karen. It's been years – 20 or more – since I read those books, yet I can still remember them so vividly. Very inspiring.


— added by Anonymous on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 10:43 am

Thank you for making me pause and carefully consider this subject. While there are a number of books I will gladly revisit time and time again, there is only one which meets your requirements that it gives me a "feeling of can-do, hopefulness, and optimism, but that showcase these feelings in the context of struggle, despair, sadness, and challenge."

That book is "Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World" by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. It's a wonderful recollection of two very good friends who, while riding motorcycles (you guessed it) around the world, experience struggle, despair, sadness, and challenge.

Most importantly these friends share their journey together. They (literally and figuratively) pick one another up when the other falls. Their petty differences are quickly forgotten because of their similarities, the life-affirming things they hold dear, and their mutual desire to finish the adventure.

It gives me a feeling of can-do, hopefulness and optimism because although I will most likely never take this trip myself, I COULD. Their expedition is an easily adopted metaphor to whatever journey on which I find myself. After all, it's all about the determination to keep going and remembering the life affirming things I hold dear.

— added by Don on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 3:28 pm has given me a lift in a way, lately. It reaffirms that all moms freak out and doubt themselves, and it makes me more confident. Aren't we all looking for that? Lisa

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

— added by Anonymous on Friday, June 12, 2009 at 4:16 am

I read constantly. My very favorite have been(according to my husband) read to death, pages falling out, taped or glued back together and in general disrepair. The Prince of Tides, Jewel, Where the Heart Is, Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe, Gone With The Wind and Scarlett are top favorites. I also love V C Andrews, Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, Patricia Cornwell. Favorite movies include Harry Potter, Autism:the musical ( I wish there was a program like this in our area. I may have to start my own!) Romy and Michele's High School Reunion,Pippi Longstocking is also a favorite on the movie and book front. I also will at look over any book about autism that may be helpful ( Making Peace With Autism, Born on a Blue Day, Adolecents on the Autism Spectrum). One of my favorite TV shows of all time is a cartoon called Daria that used to run on MTV and Noggin but I haven't seen it in years. I am also addicted to Jon and Kate Plus 8 and Little People Big World. I also enjoy the special Autism x6.

— added by cameramom on Friday, June 12, 2009 at 9:52 am

*Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
*The Fabric of Autism by Judith Bluestone
*Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern

Websites: A blog entitled Matt, Liz, and Madeline that has a somewhat tragic storyline, but overall is inspiring because this man has survived incredible tragedy. 'Nuff said.

— added by ASDmomNC on Friday, June 12, 2009 at 10:52 am

I LOVED Expecting Adam by Martha Beck!! That is probably my favorite book I have ever read. I read it 2-3 times and I never re-read books. Man, I'd love to read that again.

I was going to suggest
Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon. Sooo encouraging and thought provoking.

Both are good.

— added by Kate on Monday, June 15, 2009 at 3:59 am

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