Licking the Salt from the Biscuit of Life - Help?

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March 15th, 2009


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02:22 pm - Help?

(Indulge your wild theories here)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:[info]accio_arse
Date:March 18th, 2009 09:37 am (UTC)
(Link)
"I'm sure I know of some writers who happen to have a physical disability. I'll have more of a think and get back to you by email."

You see, that's what I mean! They don't exactly trip off the tongue, do they? If I'd have asked you for the name of a writer, you could have come up with dozens. And I'm disabled, and I couldn't have told you any either!

They just aren't out there in a great number.

"I would think that a good agent would take you on primarily on the basis of your written work."

Yesh, in fairy land perhaps. But in real life, they tend to take the clients they can make money out of.

Sorry, I'm not attacking you, I'm just saying how it works.

"As long as you strongly believe in your work being good enough to get published, that will carry you through."

Um... no! Have you looked at the best sellers list recently? Jordan and Jeremy Clarkson and Radio 1 DJs! When has 'work being good enough' ever been a criterium for it being published, less still it selling? This is not the real world you're describing!

I'm really not attacking you. You saw Stewart Lee's Toilet Books, right? He sums up how I feel.

The funny thing is that when I did a google recently on 'disabled writers' I came up with loads about disabled people, but only as characters in stories by famous writers. There were very few links to actual famous disabled writers themselves. That made me angry. So we're good enough for able-bodied people to use for our interesting and quirky disabilities, are we? But not to be writers ourselves?

According to BBC statistics, 1 in 5 people in the UK is disabled. Most people are surprised by that. It's because we're hidden - kept in our homes, in hospitals, in care homes. Away from the 'normals'. It happens in a number of soul-destroying, insiduous ways.

I remember years ago when there was that whole furore over Daniel Day Lewis in 'My Left Foot'. An able-bodied, good-looking actor using a disabled man's story to win an Oscar when there were loads of unemployed disabled actors who could have done it. I remember thinking at the time that the disabled community had a slight point, but I truly didn't get the whole picture like I do now. It's not just about that one job, it's the endemic viewpoint.

Thanks for the links. Urrgh, I really don't know if I want to identify myself as a 'disabled writer.' That might be stupid of me. There might be grants and opportunities available out of it. For instance, there was a BBC free workshop for script writing, available to disabled people only... not that I want to write scripts. Actually, I do want to write a radio comedy one day. But the workshop was residential and in England, so I couldn't have gone. Making contacts, however, is always good.
From:[info]dark_safari
Date:March 18th, 2009 02:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, in fairy land perhaps. But in real life, they tend to take the clients they can make money out of. Sorry, I'm not attacking you, I'm just saying how it works.

Have you looked at the best sellers list recently? Jordan and Jeremy Clarkson and Radio 1 DJs!
Clearly those are authors who are cashing in on their "celebrity status". There are hundreds of people we have never seen or heard of in the media who are writing successful books.

As for believing in your work, I wasn't suggesting that self-belief alone was going to get you published. I only suggested that as a way of keeping you going, fighting against the wave of prejudice and rejections!! You must think you're good enough for publication, otherwise why do you do carry on!?

Oh, and I remembered a writer who became physically disabled but went on to write a best-selling book! SO NER-NER-NER!! ;P

Laura Hillenbrand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Hillenbrand. She struggles with M.E. (chronic fatigue syndrome). She describes it here: http://www.cfids-cab.org/MESA/Hillenbrand.html

According to BBC statistics, 1 in 5 people in the UK is disabled. Then - ipso facto - there must be a proportion of those people who are writers, and successful ones at that.

It's OK, I won't take it personally. You sound pretty rattled. *hugs*
[User Picture]
From:[info]accio_arse
Date:March 18th, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I've felt like this for years, actually. I wish I'd got it out sooner. I might have done more writing and less moaning.

"According to BBC statistics, 1 in 5 people in the UK is disabled. Then - ipso facto - there must be a proportion of those people who are writers, and successful ones at that."

Sorry, that doesn't follow at all. That's like saying "1 in 10 people in the UK is Asian. But some people have three ears. Therefore - ipso facto - a proportion of Asians must have three ears."

It's an inductive generalization rather than necessarily being true. For instance, the three-eared gene may be limited to the Thai part of the population, or the Swedish. Or all three-eared Asian babies may traditionally be electrocuted at birth. See what I mean?

"You must think you're good enough for publication, otherwise why do you do carry on!?"

Oh, I have a whole pile of reasons for writing. Only one of them is my overweening self-belief. There's also escapism, self-fulfilment, the need to find something useful to do with my hands when not fiddling with myself...

Thanks for the link to Hillenbrand. Ah, she writes non-fiction? That's interesting. I never actually read Seabiscuit.

That link to the story of her illness was brilliant. Especially for me, since we have so much in common.

For instance, the way the slightest thing can set me back for weeks - going out, eating, taking a shower. The way my lymph glands swell, just like hers. Getting infections, sores, being helpless. The incompetency of the doctors, the bitchiness of nurses and the casual, nasty insults from people around us. Also, a lot of people have assumed that I have ME (I don't), and then go on to inform me that it's psychosomatic like they did with her. I don't care, to be honest. If they're the sort of people who like to jump to conclusions and then sit in judgement, I'm clearly not going to change them.

Other things that were incredibly familiar to me in her story:

"Because looking at the page made the room shimmy crazily around me, I could write only a paragraph or two a day... It took me six weeks to write 1,500 words."
Hooray for perseverance!

"After years of seeing people almost exclusively on television, I found their three-dimensionality startling: the light playing off their faces, the complexity of their hands, the strange electric feel of their nearness."
Every time I go out, I gawk at people like an idiot. Most people take it for granted, but it's my amazing special treat.

"When I was too dizzy to read, I lay down and wrote with my eyes closed. Living in my subjects' bodies, I forgot about my own."
This is exactly how I write as well. On my bed, with my eyes closed and in my head, sending my being into other bodies in other worlds. The typing is almost an afterthought, saved for when I feel better and can sit up.

This is the bit that scares me. It's when her book became a success:
"That spring, as I tried to cope with the dreamy unreality of success and the continuing failure of my health..."

And that's the rub. If you're ill, success will inevitably mean that your health declines, because success is exciting and therefore stressful.

So what's the point in aiming for it at all? I'm not stupid, so why do something I know will make me extremely ill?

It's that or vegetate, I suppose. But it's very counter-intuitive, like putting my hand into a flame.

Oh, and thanks for looking this all up, sweetie!
[User Picture]
From:[info]accio_arse
Date:March 18th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Arrgh! It took me ten goes to reply there! My firewall is suddenly blocking IJ.

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