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Richard Tayllor

Hello, A good start. Some complicating ideas. What it his diagnosis was not so open and shut. What if the second opinion said no or maybe. What if he had doubts within his doubts. What are his existing paranoid thoughts about his wife, he fidelity, his assistant, his honesty and fidelity. His own mom, she has her own problems with paranoid and reality and really can't be depended up as a beacon of reason.

This all depends on how complicated you want to make this from the start. This part of life gets messier and messier the more thought and living you invest in it. What about his children who bicker amongst themselves about his wife and assistant, his diagnosis, his future, his will/money/their inhertance? What is the history of this family that makes this more complicated/simpler/less secure than it appears. Do you have a plot line all mapped out in detail.
Go for it. I like the idea/concept. Get 10 or 10 posts up and running and I'll help you promote activity through my face book and mailing list. Will you have chapters available on line, perhaps 4 or five posts in one file? or will it be a daily blog? Thanks for asking me to comment. You have the writing ability, the life experience, the temperment, and the brilliance to make this work.....Richard

Mona Johnson

Richard, thank you SO much for taking the time to think about this and comment.

To answer some of your questions:

1. the rough outline of the plot is at the top of this post. This will be filled in, and maybe even changed, by readers' suggestions and interaction with the characters. I have my own ideas about the details of the plot line, but want it to be reader-driven.

Based on my family's experience with my dad's dementia, I do think your idea of Parker getting different diagnoses is good.

2. I also like the idea of bringing in some paranoid thoughts. I would need a lot of input from readers to make this realistic, I think.

3. Family history - hmmm, interesting question. Your input and ideas are welcome.

4. I'm not sure about the exact format, and whether I'll publish full "chapters" at a time, or just periodic strips. The frequency will depend on sponsors, I think, because I need to pay the illustrator [I have no artistic talent, and so send the illustrator stick figure drawings, sample photos and detailed notes). For right now, I think each "strip" will be a blog post with some notes, and all the strips will also be on one page for people to read from the beginning.

Thanks so much for your offer of assistance in publicizing - that means a lot to me!

Laura Bramly

Mona -- this is really revolutionary! Creating a graphic novel about a person's struggle with dementia and the fallout for his family brings to mind strategies used in developing countries to educate the general population about diseases via soap operas on the radio! The challenge will be to capture one person's experience yet generalize it to the public. As we know, one person's experience with dementia is one person's experience with dementia. I find it interesting that Peter would choose to quit, go off by himself and commit suicide, but I guess he's not surrounded by supportive people and feels very alone with this, and doomed. If I thought I was flirting with cognitive impairment and read about Peter's choices, it would scare the begeebies out of me! I think Richard's idea of competing diagnoses is a good one, however, many many people go to their family doctor, who promptly label them with Alzheimer's and send them home with a bottle of Aricept. I wonder which experience applies to the most people? Many doctors won't listen to a patient's input and persists with their diagnosis, taking the easy route.

Anyhow, this is very cool. Keep it up! I'm looking forward to more installments.

Mona Johnson

Laura, thanks so much for your thoughts! I agree with you that one person's experience with dementia is one person's experience. But there are other characters to introduce (a whole support group's worth!) and I think they can have different experiences and backgrounds.

On the suicide issue, I have talked with several people with dementia who have considered suicide shortly after diagnosis. I think this is not addressed enough, and a novel with fictional characters might be a good way to do that.

The family doctor quickie diagnosis and then competing diagnoses happened to my father, and was a great source of frustration for the whole family. Maybe this should be Parker's experience as well.

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Carole Mulliken

Gifrigginnormous idea! I would love to see you make this endeavor a "formatively interactive" project among you and your readers. That is, after the first establishing chapters, the ones to follow would be shaped by you to reflect the input of your readers with dementia. It would be reminiscent of formative research, but also a colaborative work of art.

'Twould be hard on you - a bit like like jumping off a cliff without knowing the nature of the rope that holds you -- but what a selling point in your pitch to potential publishers.

Good luck! -- Carole

Mona Johnson

Carole, as usual you are several steps ahead of me. First I had to look up formative research (r"research conducted during the development of your program or intervention to help you choose and describe your target audience, understand the factors which influence their behavior, and determine best ways to reach them," according to a definition on a CDC site.)

Then I had to think about publishers (for now, I'm just planning to publish online, and anyone can publish the "cartoon" strips as long as it's not for commercial purposes).

Your last point about jumping off a cliff seems highly appropriate. I think a lot of people with dementia feel like they're jumping off the cliff (maybe being shoved) without a rope, so the novel could imitate life.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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