Just Begin

MandalaStarting is always the hardest part of writing anything.  I had this great, inspiring story, but how to tell it?  I was lucky enough to spend lots of time with the Patins.  I got to stay at their house and interview their daughters.  I met their closest friends and their pastor.  I had pages and pages of notes, tape-recorded interviews, research on Parkinson’s and memories of times spent together.  A mass of material.

How to give it form?  How to present it so it grabbed the reader and didn’t let him down until he finished the book?

Over the years, the Patins have come up with a coherent method to fight their enemy, Parkinson’s.  It is so coherent that it translates to any major life challenge.

Yet I was certain this was more than a how-to book.  Lori ‘s story is so much richer than a step-by-step guide to holding P.D. at bay.  She is so modest that she would never presume to tell people how to change their lives.  She offers up the details of her struggle hoping that people will think: If she can do it, so can I.

It wasn’t just a memoir either.  While Lori’s life story is integral to the book, it is not just about Lori’s life.  Organizing the material along the timeline of Lori’s life would hide the real meaning of this story.

And then I had to include the lessons.  Lessons kept coming up again and again.  Bob said, “This disease is a teacher and both Lori and I have surely struggled with some of the lessons, but we have learned the hard ones.  The harder they are, the more we learned to team up against the challenge.”

How to combine all these themes?  The best way is to get off to a good start and set the form.  I thought and thought and decided to write the way I would tell a friend.  I kept coming back to an idea Lori told me early on: she thinks of a wheel when she conceptualizes her fight against Parkinson’s.  So I started off by setting the story straight, the way I would to a good friend, and then began to write about the wheel of Lori’s life.  The lessons just fell into place along the way.

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