Can We Have a Word?

In Junior High, I realized I had a talent for writing. It was a very easy source of communicating efficaciously so I latched on to it with both hands and didn’t let it go. For a short time, in my late teens, I put writing to the side to go off into the world to fulfill a dream that I had of being a computer scientist. After fate stepped in, I returned home and reflected on what I was going to do with my life.  After a short period of time, I found writing once again and that is what I have been doing ever since.

I feel my true disability is not my CP but my speech impediment. Sure, having CP, does have its disadvantages, but growing up I thought I was normal. I couldn’t walk – so what. I still was able to get around to places I needed to go. What slowed me down was that unless a person knew me well; communicating was a pain in the ass. I found the world of online chat rooms and communication and it opened a whole new world for me. Currently, I am working on getting a communication device that all I have to do is type it in and hit one button and it says verbally what I have typed.

Why is this so important to me? Well, the fact that it is portable and can go anywhere and everywhere I go is one reason. I won’t have to worry about someone understanding my speech; nor will I have to rely on the person I am with to translate for me. This will give me more freedom and independence; which is something I have always longed for.

For too long, I have allowed my speech problems to create a hermit and loner with in me.  I have to get use to the idea I have tools on hand that can help me evolve into a productive person. In order to get my novel published, I have to write. In order for the novel to sell, I have to get out amongst the fans. Therefore, it is long overdue that I find ways to do that instead of hiding in the shadows.

As I said earlier, I had allowed my disability to create a person within me that I don’t want to be.  In 2008, I went to my first convention and I learned that writers do more then write. They have readings, book signings, blogs, and network to name a few. They get out there among the people and socialize. This was my wake up call to get my ass in gear and do something about my inability to communicate properly. While my speech impediment is still my greatest disability, I am now taking steps to overcome it.

While I often wonder where I would be in life if I had become a computer scientist, I am happy and content how my life is now. I am a writer and a damn good one at that. I have a great source of support through Towanna, my family, and friends. I know my readers will want to see me and talk to me. I used to think I could avoid that, but now I see how unfair it would be not only to my readers but to me as well.

I know, without a doubt, I was destined to become a writer. Sure I avoided it for a few years but I knew there was no escaping it. I am glad fate stepped in. I had a character in my head that would not let me alone.  Surely, this character would have driven me insane (more insane than I already am) if I avoided him. As most writers say once you have one character stuck in your head, more will show up eventually even if you don’t want them to.  I am one of the lucky few that wants characters to crowd my head until my last dying breath.

My advice to writers who have a speech impediment or any other disability is to find what will work for you. It will be hard work; at times, it will seem like you are fighting a losing battle, and you will become frustrated with the journey that you will want to give up but don’t.  It is well worth it in the end.  Those with disabilities can still write and have best sellers just like any other writer; we just have to work harder at it, and that is ok.  Just believe in yourself and your work, and great things will come your way.  Our fans will love us for it.

The Accountability is the Key

The novels Towanna and I will write are character-driven. By character driven, I mean the character is the power behind the plot moving forward. With that comes the deepest of need for the writer to be held accountable for open communication and honesty between the novel and writer. By accountability, I mean the writer is responsible for telling the story the way it should be written not formalistically.

I feel that character-driven novels can and sometimes do pick up the personality of the writer. In this current project we are working on, we are trying to make the main character as open and honest as Towanna and I are. Our main character tends to be fallacious every chance he gets. He likes surprising us every now and again. His voice needs to be heard. We want his voice heard, but at the same time, we are the writers and we must maintain some control.

Many that know me will think my character is just as crazy as I am. Even Towanna often thinks I am nuttier then a fruit cake when we discuss our projects – so who knows. I hope that we do not make this main character nuttier the main character in The Shining turned out to be. One insane person in this trio is more than enough. LOL

I feel very strongly that I must cooperate with my character as he comes out from the dark corners of my mind and hits the screen. While I know he is a creation of ours, to me, he is still a person that deserves respect. He has a few serious issues that he is working on throughout in this novel. It is our responsibility to allow him the time and space to solve his own problems.

As I said, I feel that characters can achieve the personality of the writer. In this project, I am finding the main character can be as stubborn as I am known to be. He tends to fight back when we are pushing him forward. He can be the biggest uncooperative bastard I know. We give him the time and space that he needs then we begin to push him forward. Our main character has always thought that I am stubborn and now he has met Towanna. Towanna can dig her feet in and hold her ground better than our main character and I put together. When we are ready to move on, if I can’t get our character into the forward march mode, Towanna does.

If a writer is not held accountable for his character’s actions, the story falls dead in the water then
it won’t sell. It is a delicate balance between everything a writer is responsible for and how it is written in the novel. When I sit down and type out the first draft then look back, I have found times where the writing can be salvaged and times it can’t be. I know if I hear Towanna groan when she reads what I have written, that there is a major lack of something in what I have accomplished and that a long tour of duty in the word mine is in my near future.

Every story that an author writes teaches him/her a new technique or valuable lesson.  Our current project has taught me to be accountable for my work and the well-being of our main character. This novel is teaching me to have patience and understanding. Another very lesson I have learned so far, is that I can work through the difficult scenes. I have become quite the procrastinator and stubborn over the last twenty years when it came too hard to write scenes.

I know I have to hold myself accountable for what I say, do and write in life – especially in my novel. The most valuable lesson I have learned was to ensure that my disability is considered in all things. I feel I have grown a lot as a writer this year thanks to the great support network I have. I also learned that while I am disabled, I shouldn’t use it as an excuse to procrastinate or ignore things I need to do to get this novel written.

On the Clock: Writing With a Disability, Part Two

Many think that those of us with disabilities sit around all day watching television and getting absolutely nothing of value done. My girlfriend has heard some comments in reference to how those with disabilities have it made because no one expects anything from us. One told her directly that I should be producing one book after another because I have all the time in the world on my hands to do what I want to do. Well, all I have to say to that is – you know what assuming does.

Yes, I am on disability. Yes, I do not work outside my home. However, my day is structured from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. It takes my mother and father both to handle my cares. I have a team of maids that come in to clean. I have doctors’ appointments, therapy appointments and other things that must be done for my health. Then on top of that, I have my shower, eating, haircuts, shopping and other errands to be done. In order for me to get what I need/want, my parents to get what they need/want; everyone and thing in my life is strictly regimented. However, it doesn’t mean every moment of every day remains that way.

There has been more than one occasion I have gotten BICHOK when something would come up and my plans change. Part of the problem is that when life throws me a curve ball and changes my routine, it quashes my momentum. When this happens, it often takes me up to several weeks to get back on track. Some may assume that it is me just being stubborn but it is a side effect of my disability.

Right now, I can do that without facing any major consequences, but once Towanna and I sign our book contract, that will change. There will be deadlines, word counts, rewrites, book signings, book readings and other “non-writing” things to take care of. On top of that, I will have our next project or two in the works. On top of that I will have curve balls of life and my regular routine to contend with. This will be one hell of a challenge but yet I have to keep a close eye on things so both of my worlds – writing and real time – will have things rolling in one manner or another.

Just recently, my mom took a two week vacation. Within a week of her coming back my father took his fall vacation. For almost a month, nothing seemed to be within the boundaries of my regular routine. I was off centered, off my writing schedule while writing a difficult scene; my
girlfriend was not feeling well and other things were happening. At first, I left all this affect me. Then Towanna said enough was enough – time to get writing. When I made up my excuses, she just looked at me; not saying a word. Then she said, “Excuses are like assholes everyone has them no one wants to smell them.” Then she showed me all the times I could have wrote but didn’t. Once we got me a bit organized, I was back to writing and accomplishing what I should have had all along.

Another thing that has been on my mind is that when life throws me that curveball, I never know how I am going to react. Sometimes I find myself handling it with ease and other times, I lose focus. It worries me how this will play out once our publisher throws the rewrites at me, etc. Towanna said not to worry because it is not time to worry about such things but well, I am a worry wart and I come by it honestly.

I sometimes wonder about me and writing. Then a voice deep inside me, one that won’t leave me alone, tells me that while my verbal speech might be broken, my written speech is bursting to get out. The inner voice tends to be much like Towanna – no drama, no excuses, no bull shit allowed.

Another thing, I wished to discuss in this post is “obsessiveness.” A small part of my disability is that I am OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.) I tend to want everything perfect – well organized without any faults to it. I place unfair demands not only on myself but on Towanna and others around me. The more my OCD comes out the less I get accomplished. Towanna quietly accepted the perfectionist in me for quite a while. Then she put her foot down and helped me ease up on myself. It seems I get a lot more done now.  It took a while to get that “delicate balance” going in my life. It took a lot of trails and errors for me to get to where I was demanding of myself but yet didn’t set impossible goals.

Towanna has helped me get more organized with real life things so that I can do my writing.  She is one tough gal when it comes to excuses and procrastination. With her help, I keep on track with my writing. My real time is well taken care of as well. When life throws us off track, she is there keeping me going showing me the way.

My advice for this post is this: It doesn’t matter if you are new to writing or are a successful published writer, BICHOB as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be a set time frame every day. For those of you that are disabled don’t let your disability completely dictate your life. Do what needs to be done to cover your needs and wants, and then make time to write. It took a few swift kicks in my ass by my co-author to get me to see this, and if I can do it anyone can.