The Power of Words – Dealing with mother’s illness leads TROY alumna to pen first book
In the depths of hardship, Troy University alumna Sue McDougald Watson found solace in the written word.
Serving as caregiver for her mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, Watson took pen in hand and began to write as an escape from the worry and heartache.
“I began writing as an escape. My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I was her caregiver,” Watson said. “When I had opportunities during the day, I would take my legal pad out into the field and write.”
An English teacher at Auburn’s Lee-Scott Academy with degrees in English education and counseling from TROY(1969, 1972), Watson wrote about what she knew – her childhood. The result was her first book, Jane Ellen’s Path.
“You write about what you know. This was my childhood. This was the South I grew up in,” Watson said. “It was a conflicted time for me as I tried to deal with the social mores and tried to discover where I fit. The characters in the book are not based on any actual persons, but rather a compilation of people and attitudes of the day. Some of the instances that occur in the book are real, but most of them happened to my family.”
The book follows the struggle of Jane Ellen Robbins Hammond, an African-American female, and her friend Lynn Wambles, a privileged white female, as they come of age during the turbulent struggles of the 1960s South.
“The book is filled with lessons about the hatred and discrimination of the era; all of those horrible social mores that were in place that didn’t allow people to be who they could be,” Watson said. “It isn’t just a book about the different social mores between blacks and whites; it addresses the roles that everyone was forced to be in due to the era.”
Watson, who is currently working on a second book, said the road to becoming a published author has been trying, but educational.
“Trying to market the book has been one of the biggest challenges,” she said. “Because I went through a smaller publisher, most of the marketing has fallen on my shoulders; and I’m not very good with that. The publishing industry is hard to break into if you are just starting out.”
Still, Watson believes the effort is a worth while one.
“I love to write and sharing stories with others can bring great joy to your life.”