There have been some really good posts on the front page of WordPress that got me considering my motivations for writing. I write Blades of Truth, my current Fiction Friday Harry Potter fan fiction serial for fun because I really enjoy Harry’s world and will use any excuse to visit it. However it and my more serious work in progress (and by serious I mean hopefully one day have its own cover art and be in bookstores and libraries with my name on it) share a commonality. In both works the main character is disabled. The lack of disabled people in all forms of the media has been a soapbox for me for a long time. Whether we realize it or not we look to people similar to ourselves in our own culture to tell us how that culture expects us to behave. For many many years when disabled kids and young people look to their culture to find examples of themselves there weren’t any or at the very least very few.
The message that conveyed to me growing up was go way, disappear, you have no voice, no value, no story worth telling. That’s a really hard thing, to realize that society views you that way for no other reason than an accident of birth or circumstance that you cannot control. I learned that lesson well before I was 12 years old. When I was in high school I read a story a three-page story for my sophomore English class that my teacher, upon returning to me, that I should expand into a book. It wasn’t anywhere close to what she thought of as her preferred type of leisure reading but if it were published she would buy it in a heartbeat she told me.
Originally the female lead wasn’t in a wheelchair at all. I had considered making her disabled but decided against it because I was afraid that by putting the lead character in a chair I would hurt the manuscript’s chances of being picked up by a publisher. This decision nagged at me for years until I asked someone else’s opinion and they said that if I didn’t like the way current media undervalued and ignored the disabled I should force them to take notice and write characters who were. It might mean that the story got twice as many rejections as it would otherwise but when it finally found a publisher those people would want to tell the same story I did and I wouldn’t feel like a sellout to myself.
Today I saw this and this on the WordPress Discover page (apparently Freshly Pressed got a makeover). I realized that in hesitating to make the main character disabled I had been fundamentally altering my story in an effort to make it more palatable to those who would eventually pass judgment on it. I had originally made her able bodied to avoid questions like “is this a book about disability”. No it’s an action adventure urban fantasy romance similar to several books Mercedes Lackey has written. Yes her disability will affect how the action plays out and certain things will happen to her that probably wouldn’t happen if she were not disabled but it is not now and never was meant to be a book “about” disability.
My intention for this book is to prove that everyone can have adventure in their lives. Then it is possible for someone in a wheelchair since birth to do more than sit on the sidelines. She can be the kick ass heroine just as often as her able-bodied next-door neighbor. To the publishers who I will one day get rejections from because you are too afraid that the story won’t be long received because of her, that’s fine. Not everyone can be brave all the time. You’ll kick yourself later though for not taking the risk because it really is an awesome story.
My handwriting sucks. Let me rephrase: my printing sucks. What most people consider handwriting, that is to say cursive handwriting, is beyond my physical capabilities . I can list on one hand the number of people who can read my print and depending on the day and how tight my hands are that list may or may not include my parents.In twenty eight years of living as a disabled person I’ve come a long way on the road to self acceptance but my lack of consistently legible penmanship is still a frustration. My family (the women particularly) collect stories, our stories and the stories of others. We are believers in passing down history via oral tradition and the written word. Particularly when telling the stories of others I am a detail fiend. I try not to leave things out or over embellish. This is where having decent handwriting would help. Most people can can grab a pen or pencil and scratch an idea onto a napkin, a Post It note or even a matchbook if that’s what they can reach. Not me. For one thing there are days when I can’t even hold a pen or pencil, much less write with one. My handwriting is so hit or miss that there are days that if i actually wrote wrote something down, left it and came back, there is a very good chance I won’t be able to read it even though it’s my writing.
i have several electronic means of writing , all of which I’m grateful foe, and most of which I use regularly. I can’t help feeling as though my disability has cheated me out of one of the most basic aspects of writing, I can’t enjoy the ink flowing from pen to paper. For me that process is agonizingly slow and often physically painful if I try to write more than just two or three shorter sentences at a time.
I know that in the digital age lots of people feel that writing with pen and paper is obsolete. I wonder if you’d still feel that way if a computer or other electronic device was the only means you had to communicate your written words?
It is January 3, 2014 and I’m committed to writing another 363 posts this year. I have tried unsuccessfully to meet that goal for the past several years but my resolve is stronger this year than before. I don’t often introduce myself as a writer when I meet people and here’s why: the first thing almost anybody who introduced themselves as a writer is “What have you published?” I hate that question because if your answer is anything like mine “nothing yet but I do have a story I’m working on fleshing out into a novel,” lots of people suddenly take on a patronizing time as though anybody who doesn’t have a published work to their name doesn’t deserve to call themselves a writer. That way of thinking should be thrown out with the evening trashes far as I’m concerned. Just because a person does not earn money or recognition through their writing doesn’t make them any less a writer, and even those people who want to get published someday (myself included) have to start somewhere. A book does not simply appear fully informed out of the authors had an land on the shelf of a bookstore near you. Revision and reduction are the name of the game folks and I will admit that part of my reasoning for not giving more done on my current work in progress (which I have been raining since the age of fourteen) is a fear of rejection.
It was actually as a means of facing my fear that I decided to start this public blog several years ago. It is also why am I publicly state that I will not delete someone’s comment just because they might disagree with me. I believe a writer’s craft is honed by the (hopefully constructive) criticism of others and I believe that a writer who just plain ignores feedback that they do not wish to hear is a writer who will not be successful for very long.
In other news, I feel like I’m becoming a cyborg! As I mentioned in an earlier post my sister bought me a smart phone for Christmas. I was supposed to received it a few days after Christmas but due to a snafu in which the post office thought that our address was vacant I should receive it this evening or tomorrow at the latest. I have never owned a smart phone before so to say that there will be an adjustment period is probably an understatement. Since Apple first came out with the iPhone my family has been particularly interested in the applied use of smart phone technology as it could relate to helping disabled people become more independent.
So when I called my family on Christmas Day in something of a panic because our finances had drastically altered so that among others things I would not be able to get a cell phone was a low number with which to make doctors appointments and other necessary phone calls my sister decided that she was going to fix it so I at least did not have to worry about, that. My question to anybody who has an Android phone is this: do you have a app that you feel greatly enhances your writing/blogging process?
I feel as though I have been running cross country for most of my life, at least mentally. Earlier in life it felt as though I were always running away from something, trying to put distance between myself and my disability, other people’s expectations of me or sometimes lack of expectation and a laundry list of other things. If someone drew a picture of my mental self at that point I would probably have all kinds of small cuts on my face and arms the needs of my jeans would be worn through and money shoes would probably look as if they might fall apart at any second. That’s definitely how I perceived myself anyway. At some point it changed though, instead of running away, trying to outdistance something I began to get the feeling that I was running toward something though if you asked who or what I was chasing I couldn’t give you much of an answer. At the age of 12 or 13 a man I couldn’t place as anyone I knew or had heard of at the time began showing up in my mind both while I was asleep and awake. Since I had begun writing at that time (mostly historical romances that I wouldn’t pay Harlequin to publish if they asked now) I assumed for years that he was a character I simply had not found a story for which still isn’t uncommon for me today. When I was a sophomore in high school I had to write a short story for class and since he was still in my head on a regular basis it seems natural that the lead male character would look like him. Fast forward to present day I am still working on that short story although it isn’t so short anymore. After I completed the assignment my English teacher strongly suggested that I expand it to a full length book. My graduating class has its 10 year reunion this year and I’m still tweaking the story. Christmas of 2011 I did something highly uncharacteristic for me and that I joined a dating site without someone twisting my arm to get me to do so. Much to my continued amazement somebody responded. I looked them up on Facebook only to discover the man who had been silently in my head for over 10 years staring back at me. If I had been sitting in a regular chair at the time this are probably would have knocked it over. In that exact moment I knew who I had been running toward for half my life.
Rain lashed the windows outside the high rise office building. The man sitting behind the hand crafted desk was one of the wealthiest men in the state of Washington. His classic profile had appeared several times on the of Forbes and Gentleman’s Quarterly and even though fifty five was the youngest anyone ever guessed him to be he was still the most sought after man in the state in spite of the the fact that he was never seen with same woman two weeks in a row there was no shortage of women hoping they would be the next to catch his fancy and dozens of them had tried and failed to keep it.
Jared Aconite drummed his fingers in time with the rain. The thug was late, perhaps that meant he’d finally had some success in finding where the boy had the others. He watched his reflection shimmer in the water running down the window. Water is more revealing than glass, the image reflected in the water looked very much like the man standing behind the window except that the reflection had pointed ears. It is in the nature of running water to show truth and if Jared’s middle aged office assistant had walked in and seen his reflection in the window just then she would have seen for what he truly was, an elf.
Though he passed for a human every day thanks to his innate abilities it was nothing more than a ruse. He wore the glamour as easily as some humans wore makeup. Jared saw the hireling creep through the office door behind him and slink guiltily to a chair. Jared knew even before he had turned around that that waste of breath and magic had failed, again.
“You are here, but the boy isn’t ,why is that?” The thug stared at his boots and muttered something under his breath. Jared was on the other side of the desk before the other man could blink and seized him under the chin forcing their eyes to meet, the younger elf tried to flinch away but couldn’t break the vise grip that held his chin.”When I ask a question I expect more than just a grunt which any prehistoric human is capable of, I asked where is he?” The punk whined,”I don’t know I followed him to the National Park parking lot and he was just gone.” Jared put down the letter open he had been thinking of stabbing the ill bred cretin with and smiled,”You managed to find a useful sliver of information in spite of your usual ineptitude, for that you may live another day.
The nameless thug scurried like a frightened rat from the and Jared sitting down at his desk again began picking the dirt out from under his nails with the previously discarded letter opener. Good help was hard to come by and he couldn’t risk that witless slug screwing everything up now,sighing in resignation he dialed a number from the phone on his desk.
I have heard that if you write three pages of writing in the morning (approximately 750 words) you will find that your mind is less cluttered and it may be easier to focus because your brain is not bouncing around as many unrelated ideas. The original exercise was meant to be done in longhand, with pen and paper. Fortunately for me because my handwriting is worse than chicken scratch and if I actually wrote three pages I would give up before the second paragraph someone decided to create a digital version. 750 words.com you can login using your Facebook account info as well as Yahoo or Google if you prefer. Just make sure that you stick with the one you initially login with because apparently the account verification is completely different for each site. Your 750 words are completely private and the various ways to connect are used only to monitor site statistics. When I first heard of the 750 word exercise I admit I scoffed at it but it is actually helpful . There are even badges that you can earn for instance a picture of a cheetah appears when you reach the 750 mark particularly fast, the criteria for the rest of the badges remains a mystery you find out what milestone you hit when the badge appears. I would like to know what everyone else thinks of this site’s actually pretty simple.
I will be the first to admit that Stephen King is a talented writer even though I do not care for several things that he’s done, mostly because I’m a chicken and they scare me. I do like The Green Mile very much though I actually wrote a post should you care to read it.That being said I lost a little bit of respect for Mr. King when I read a comment that he made about the Twilight series in which he basically espoused the opinion that Stephanie Meyer, the author, wrote fluff. I like the Twilight books, it was possibly the first series my sister and I agreed on and was also probably one of the few she finished before me, a fact which she is proud of as seen by the epitaph written on the gift tag of my copies of the second and third book which I received a few Christmases ago, “finally a series I finished before you.”
It greatly disturbs me that one writer can so callously dismiss the work of another. Mr. King’s comment (which can be found in its entirety over at my friend’s blog Maggie Madly Writing in her Defense of Twilight post) compared the Twilight series to Harry Potter and cast Twilight in a distinctly unfavorable light. I believe that was unfair, the stories the respective authors tell in both book series are completely different, comparing the two is comparing apples to oranges. I don’t know what kind of problem Stephen King has with Stephanie Meyer but I think you should just get over Stephen. I am sure she put as much effort into getting those books published as you have any of yours, if you can’t respect the writing respect the elbow grease.
I believe that anger can be constructive for most people, I am not so sure if my anger in particular would be classified as constructive in any situation. Most of the time if I get angry at something it grows slowly it feels as though it’s choking me.I get angry easier than some people. It would be easy to blame my anger on the feelings of helplessness which are unfortunately a regular side effect of my disability, but I’m not sure that my disability is completely to blame for my anger issues. Sometime my anger builds on itself and sometimes it overwhelms me and then I think I temporarily mutate into some kind of firebreathing harpy. I think my anger more on the constructive side if I were able to do something physical with it. I have discovered however that because my main outlet is writing my anger does absolutely nothing for it. I’ve tried to write while angry with very little success. I even find it difficult to write a villain while angry because I can’t focus on the character. I really command those people who can modify their anger into a form of creativity, I have learned that it is harder than it appears.
It is August in the South which just in case anybody reading this doesn’t know what I mean… it is hot. Some days it is so hot that even a spaghetti strap top feel like too much. I cut my hair off my shoulders and into a pixie cut and still I feel rivers running down the back of my neck most of the time. Blogging in the summer is actually something of an endeavor for me, because I can’t type with any speed at all as a consequence of my disability I have to use the speech recognition software. I never thought a set of headphones could qualify as a torture device but apparently they can. I also had no clue that your ears had sweat glands and zone in them… you learn something new every day I guess. I suppose I am merely suffering for my art but I wish I didn’t have to suffer quite some much. How many days until October starts?
I am still surprised at how much this attention this blog has gotten in the fairly recent past. I started it is nothing more than a repository for my thoughts. It was a last ditch effort to keep writing fun for me, a place where I didn’t feel obligated or under pressure to write and with the pressure and overhanging sense of obligation gone I write. What I never expected was for other people to write me back. When I began I wrote out of desperation now I write in the hope of hearing even just one small voice cheering me on in the distance. Even constructive criticism has that effect. If a person offers constructive criticism I don’t take it negatively because the person’s comment is in effect saying to me, “I believe in you and I want to help you become someone greater than you are at this present moment.” Some of the people reading this might be aware that I have a half written manuscript gathering dust on my hard drive. To be honest, I haven’t touched it in months, every time I have tried I am overwhelmed with a horrible case of performance anxiety and anything I managed to write sounds stilted and two-dimensional and therefore gets scrapped almost as soon as I write it.I have discovered that the comments and even just the simple views that this blog accumulates are slowly helping to rebuild my confidence in myself as a competent writer, for that simple gift I will never be able to say thank you enough.