Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Does having a disability affect your stories?


Delores, how did you become interested in horses and cowboys, which inform you book Breaking Point?

My first story ideas came from repeated dreams. I had the most vivid dreams about horses and cowboys. I doted upon Gene Autry in my childhood and played all his records on my old windup Victrola. My folks never lacked for gift suggestions, all I wanted was the newest Gene Autry record or to go to his latest movie. Later, as I grew up, ideas popped into my mind in the most unexpected moments and demanded I stop whatever I was doing and jot some notes. I scorched a few bacon and egg breakfasts because of this.

You and I have talked about having a disability informs your work. Would you be willing to tell us your own story of disability?
When I was only 4 years old I contracted a joint case of spinal meningitis and measles. Those were dreary, scary hospital days, lightened only by the woman who came into my room daily to scrub the floor. She always paused at my bedside and smiled at me. When my parents finally got me home from the extended hospital stay I was a helpless case. I couldn't walk or hear. I had to relearn everything from scratch, starting with simply holding a spoon in order to feed myself. Eventually I regained enough strength to pull myself up to stand beside the sofa and walk the length of it, while holding on to it. From that I finally learned to walk again and then relearned everything else quickly. I remember that journey too vividly, particularly the nightmares that plagued me for a long time after. The one positive thing I took away from the hospital was that a smile is the language of friendship.

I didn't even remember my parents. I still recall sitting between them in the front seat of the car when they drove me home, wondering who those strangers were. At a traffic light stop my father took his hand off the steering wheel and enclosed mine.
He turned his head to me and said very slowly "I'm Daddy."  He said it several times quite slow and loud before I could repeat it. When I did, he smiled.  Then he started on "Mommy." When we arrived home I knew those two words, and the journey forward began.

I tend to think of new people and experiences I come into contact with as journeys.
My mind builds stories around incidents and populates the journey with characters I have something in common with, who make some kind of a journey forward.

Thanks for sharing. Tomorrow we will talk about how you write characters with disabilities.

6 comments:

  1. Very heartwarming accounting of how you reached your success. You are an inspiration to anyone who wants to 'quit' before they gave it all. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  2. Thank you for a nice comment...it is a never-ending road. You just have to keep on keeping on around each bend you encounter.

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  3. I have worked with people who have disabilities for 11 years now to get them the in home services they need. That said, I do have a story that includes a single mom who has a child with autism. She's a secondary character, though. I plan to write a YA book from a young adults perspective who has mild MR. That will be an interesting story, I'm sure.

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    1. Your idea sounds like something I would like to read too.

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  4. Your account is very inspirational for anyone who has encountered a setback of any kind in life.

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    1. My personal observation is that everyone faces some kind of setback sooner or later. It's a normal part of life. I appreciate your comment.

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