Story Not Forgotten

Whatever happened to that other WIP, “Melody of Madness: Surviving Sister?”

It surfaces for air every few weeks. It is a painful process, slow and tedious. It is a difficult thing to write on an issue that is so very personal. How two sisters grew up in the same household and community and suffered from the same psychiatric malady, but share their perceptions through entirely different personal life experiences and develop entirely different personalities.

Claudette, the older, the pianist, appears strongest at the beginning, suffers and struggles through extraordinarily difficult situations that weaken her resolve, but stores the lessons away soulfully, strengthening the marrow that supports her frame.

Carol, the younger, the ballerina, appears weak and frail initially, defies all odds to achieve lofty goals, surpasses everything she ever dreamed of…lilting her way along, and then the perfection is ripped away, shattered, and she is sucked into a vortex she can never escape from.

The relationships they have with their parents, each other, and the ones they come to love crumble as a result of their illness, but one finds ways to triumph and one is forever lost to the emotional waves of manic-depression that crash the spirit against jetties of life.

They love each other as much as they grow to despise each other. Each has three daughters of approximately the same ages.

The sequel parallels the lives of the two middle daughters who are manic-depressive, subsequently dealing with their malady differently and resulting in totally different outcomes.

My word count on Book One is at 15,300. But it moves along like a sailboat on the sea with no wind. There is so very much research required, and the subject matter during the time period does not lend itself to quick searches on the internet.

This is a black and white 8X10 I have of my mother during her youth. Standing in the water, she is showing her friend, one of the Strickland girls, a water lily.

fifties and mama Pine mountain 001

This is a 1957 Chamber of Commerce brochure of the small town of Pine Mountain (Chipley), GA, the inspiration of the fictional town of Southbridge, GA, in the book.

fifties and mama Pine mountain 005


More photos of the pages in the brochure showing the local attractions. I found this in my mother’s scrapbook. You should be able to click on the pic to read the detail.


Uprighted clip

S.O. co. uprighted



Small southern towns are very proud of the little things that put them on the map, like Callaway Gardens, Roosevelt’s Little White House and State Park. Even my Uncle’s Standard Oil Company and the various hotels family members owned got into the brochure, and of course, both the Methodist and the Baptist Church…every small southern town has those. The only industry in town was Dacula Shirt factory…it has long been gone, Arrow took them over and it is nothing but a warehouse and offices today.

This is still a pet project that has not been abandoned but can only receive occasional attention.

Do you have any pet projects hiding in the wings?

16 thoughts on “Story Not Forgotten

  1. I used to own a 1956 Sedan de’ville. I took it to car shows around the West, but sold it after I got married. There is a 56 Caddy in one of your old photos. Looks like a coup de’ville.


  2. I love looking at old photographs. My parents are in the process of moving; I’ve discover many newspaper clippings and photographs that I’d never seen before. I could spent hours looking.
    I have many “pet projects” tucked away, just need to find the time to break them out. 🙂


    1. One reason I keep The Grandmother Journal on my blog is that there are so many things that I think my own granddaughter might be interested in seeing, knowing or reading about at some point. My daughter reads it now and she’s like, “Oh wow, I’d forgotten all about that.”


      1. Susan, also consider putting your posts into a book of some sort. A friend of mine is writing a memoir but it’s only for her grandchildren, not public consumption. I think it’s a wonderful idea. A book, no matter how simple the design, is something that your descendents can cherish for years and pass along.


      2. I had not thought about that. There are a lot of companies that will do picture books. Having the option to add my words would be cool.Thanks, Marie!


  3. Do I have any pet projects hiding in the wings? Pshaw. Those are my works in progress. The ones where I have found myself struggling to continue. They are stories that mean a lot to me for vastly different reasons. But the most important ones are two novels that are about half complete. I look at them every once in awhile and think about what more needs to be done with each of them and I just can’t figure out how to re-start the process.


    1. I wish you the best on those. I had to reread this one to get a sense of where I was going with it. :/ I’m still not sure where I had originally planned to go, but I have some sense of the direction it’s heading in 🙂


  4. By the way, a story like this, the one you describe here, may be best written the way you are. In those occasional moments when the mood is right and you can go there. Don’t rush it. Let it breath and write it when it makes sense.


  5. I’m glad to hear that you are still working on this project, Susan. Granted, it will probably take you a long time because of the research, but also the emotional cost. Yet, like Red Clay & Roses, it begs to be told, doesn’t it?

    I have an idea to write a memoir about my dad (RIP) who suffered from mental illness for pretty much all his adult life. And his family was poor and most of them are deceased so research would be very difficult if not impossible in some cases. But allowing myself to fictionalize any part of his life for the sake of writing about him risks the ire of my immediate family. I must tread very, very lightly.


    1. I know that’s true. My cousin, Sybil, wanted her real name used. Not the last name, but the first. If you do a memoir, people have to understand this is your perception. To fictionalize it, the way I am doing with Surviving Sister, people can only say I was influenced by the people I knew.


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