Memory as Writing Fodder

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Someone posted this and a flood of memories came rushing back.

Some years ago. I remember a boy in class erased his grades, his parents signed it, and he returned it with grades changed back to the original. The teacher thought embarrassing people in front of class was part of proper punishment. I felt bad for him. He obviously had problems and it seemed she picked on him all the time. His name was Danny, a small, skinny boy with dark hair. In today’s schools, he’d be heavily labeled and receive the help he needed. However, then, it seemed his parents were at a loss as to what to do and the teacher didn’t help the situation by her repeated calls home and repeated screaming at him in the classroom. (The students in class actually did not make fun of Danny. As I recall, most tried to befriend him.)

Many of the people I grew up with didn’t make it to adulthood, others ended up in prison. Gunshots, bombs, and even threats of poisoned darts surrounded us.

I think I recall Danny’s family moving away. I hope Danny survived and went on to do great things.

*

Memory is rich in writing fodder, all you have to do is mine it, add a few twists, and you have a story people can relate to.

It doesn’t have to be your story. You can finish someone else’s story: Perhaps Danny grew up, got married, had three daughters and is CEO of his own company. He might be one of the original advocates for children with special needs. He’s helped thousands, remembering his own pain and problems in a classroom where the students showed more compassion than the teacher.

Special Needs Authors and Readers – an Interview with Patty Fletcher

Hello:

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m very glad to be here.

As I’ve been reading over the questions you ask, I’ve decided the best way to begin answering them is to start by telling a bit about myself, and why I write.

As you read, you’ll also see that I’ve included Campbell my Seeing Eye Guide Dog and why I chose to do so.

SmashwordsCoverMy name is Patty L. Fletcher. I’m a single mother with a beautiful daughter, of whom I am very proud. I have a great son-in-law and five beautiful grandchildren. Three girls, and two boys. I own and handle a Black Labrador from The Seeing Eye™ named Campbell Lee—a.k.a. Bubba Lee or King Campbell, to give just a couple of his nicknames.

I’m multiply disabled. I not only suffer from Bipolar Disorder, and Fibromyalgia but I’m totally blind as well. I was born premature and my blindness was caused by my being given too much oxygen in the incubator. I was partially sighted until 1991, at which time I lost my sight due to an infection after cataract surgery and high eye pressure. I used a cane for 31 years before making the change to a Guide Dog, which was the inspiration for my first book, ‘Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life’ CN-2014.

When I began my writing career with the publishing of that first book, my purpose was to tell the story of how going to The Seeing Eye™ and getting Campbell, learning to love, handle, and work him, then coming home and adding him to my life, gave me true freedom. I told of how changing from being a 31-year cane user to being a guide dog handler taught me things about myself I had never known before. I told of the wonderment I experienced when I finally took that chance.

Continuing onward,  as in the beginning, a major goal of mine is to help others who find themselves in domestic violence situations. I also want to help others learn more about mental illnesses and how different situations and environments can drastically affect those with such challenges.

As I write I focus on bipolar disorder, on how it can go horribly wrong and cause a person to behave in ways they normally would not.

Another thing I have attempted to show in these many years of writing is how, in certain institutional settings, attachments can develop—and how those attachments can become unhealthy for all concerned if they are not handled correctly. Most simply, I want others to know more about me.

I’ve written a second book as well. Campbell and I wrote it together.

‘What do you mean? What was the purpose of this book?’ You ask. Let me explain.

The book is, ‘Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye’

In Bubba Tails From the Puppy Nursery At The Seeing Eye, it is King Campbell Super Seeing Eye Dog A.K.A Bubba’s turn to tell his tale.

While helping to ready a group of pups to go and meet their puppy raiser families, so they too, might one-day become Seeing Eye dogs, he tells of what it was like for him, to grow up and become a Seeing Eye dog.

As he speaks to the wee pups, he speaks about the importance of facing one’s fears, of honesty and how telling the truth no matter how hard, is always best. He speaks of love, faith and of believing in one’s self

Because Campbell and I are together I feel it is important for you to know him as well.

WHO IS CAMPBELL AND FROM WHERE DOES HE COME…?

Campbell was born in Chester N.J. November 28, 2008.

He lived with his Dog Mother and Litter Mates until he was approximately eight weeks old, and then he went to live with his Puppy Raisers.

Then, when he was just over a year-old, he was taken away from his Puppy Raiser family, to be trained at The Seeing Eye.

After only four short months he was chosen to become the guide of his now human mother Patty L. Fletcher.

One more important thing we must add, because of The Seeing Eye being the first ever school of this kind and due to its continuing to be the largest and oldest school in the world, before we continue, we’re obligated to post the following information. We’d love it if you’d visit the site sometime to learn all about how this wonderful Guide Dog movement began and what it takes to continue today.

Legal Notes THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The
Seeing Eye, Inc.See: www.SeeingEye.org

 

What do you think the publishing world needs to do more of in order to meet the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?

I must say I am quite pleased to have an opportunity to answer this question. Being a multiply disabled writer most certainly can be extremely challenging. So much so that I wrote an article about it. Which, I might add was well received by many in the self-publishing world. If readers would like to have a look they may visit:  https://­campbellsworld.wordpr­ess.com/2018/02/07/­challenges-of-a-disab­led-writer/.

In the article which was also published in the Indie Publishing Magazine, I talk about the various challenges disabled writers face. Things such as:

  • Photos, Screenshots, and Memes which have no descriptive text.
  • The challenges of correctly dealing with words which sound the same and are spelled different, and:
  • Books that aren’t TTS (Text To Speech) enabled, websites that aren’t accessible to those using screen reader or voice over technology, and lots of other things the general writing world just doesn’t consider when dealing with writers who have special needs.

I must say the next question you ask is my favorite and comes to me at a time in my life when I find daring to be different whether by design or choice is hard as the devil to do.

You ask:

What do you think the world in general needs to do in order to understand the needs of those who are differently-abled/disabled?

The best way I can answer this is this…

Be open minded. Don’t put people into boxes. I’m a multiply disabled person. I think, act, and work differently than anyone else.

But.

That’s not all due to my disability and I see a lot of this going on.

The world needs to be more accepting of things that aren’t the “Traditional way of doing things.”

One of the biggest reasons I gravitated to Indie Publishing and especially blogging was so that I could go my own way, do my own thing and be OK doing so but of late I don’t seem to fit in.

Honestly, it’s starting to seriously drag me down. Seems like no matter where I go or what I do someone somewhere disapproves.

Well, to be blunt I’m quite tired of it. No two people are the same. We’re all “differently abled” All of us no matter who we are have things that are hard for us. If people stopped and seriously took a good, long, look at themselves they’d realize that no one is without some kind of disability and I just get tired of there being all these pigeonholes that I’m supposed to fit into.

I just want to be allowed to be myself, write in a way that makes me happy, tell my stories in a way that feels comfortable to me and not have all these other people telling me what I should and should not do.

I am not them and they’re not me. They don’t live my life and I don’t live theirs.

I am a 51-year-old totally blind woman who suffers from other types of disorders as well and these disorders cause me to think, feel, and process life around me in a way that is unique to only me.

But.

Is that not true of everyone? Do we not all deal with life as it comes to us in a different way? If you read something and I read that same thing are we both going to receive the very same message?

If you choose one way to put your work out there for the world to enjoy and I choose another is your way any better than mine?

I guess I’m just tired of the “world” thinking it knows what’s best for me.

I’ve a favorite affirmation it goes like this…

“The world is not perfect, so there-for I need not be perfect.”

If I were to sum it all up into one word it would be, ‘allow’

‘Allow’ me to be who I am. ‘Allow’ yourself to be who you are.

In closing let me share these words a dear friend once wrote to me during a time in my life when I was doubting my ability to succeed. He wrote…

“Patty,

Congratulations on your success! Yes, success.  All successful people (writers are people too!) get criticized – a lot.  There is an entire industry based on criticizing books, movies, plays, sports, cars, etc.… the list goes on forever.

Don’t let the criticism get to you.  You put in the work, you made it happen – only you get to decide if it turned out the way you intended.  No one else is qualified.  Forge ahead, do what is in your heart, write your books, sing your songs, dance your dance – be you.  Everyone else can worry about being themselves!”

Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak about myself and what it is to be a disabled writer in a world in which it can at times be hard to work and belong in.

Bubba Tails Wrap 6x9

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you, Patty!

noreen

 

 

 

Write Lightening

How did the three blind mice meet?

Why were they chasing the farmer’s wife?

Go – Write it!

blind mice

The Mystery of Semicolons

indexMany people are confused by semicolons; some people just hate them.

Kurt Vonnegut hated them. Even Malcom Gladwell seems adverse to them. He said, he doesn’t see their point. So, Mr. Gladwell, this blog is dedicated to you.

I, personally, LOVE semicolons; it’s like I don’t have to stop my thought! LARGE-HEARTbeat.jpgHowever, some of my editors have asked me to cut them down. One editor-friend said, “they do not appear in popular fiction.”

BUT THEY SHOULD!

Whether you like, hate, are confused, or don’t give a damn about them, every writer should know how to use them correctly.

The secret to the semicolon is simple. Two complete sentences which are closely related in thought or idea. Other writers believe a comma and conjunction (fanboys) or a period is just as good, but I think of it this way:

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Did this help anyone?

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The Comma Coma – a deadly disease

Do you go into a coma when someone starts talking about commas?

Don’t get bit by the deadly comma coma bug! Figure out how to make the comma work for you, not against you!

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The purpose of all punctuation is to clarify your thoughts and ideas so readers can enjoy and understand the book!

Did you have a teacher that told you, “whenever you feel the need to pause, insert a comma”?

WORST ADVICE EVER!

When we are writing, we naturally pause to think. That is not necessarily where a legal-grammar-rules-keep-calm-and-use-commas-e1490740001283comma needs to be.

Commas have a number of rules. My favorite site to use – and to introduce to my students – is the Owl at Purdue. Their comma usage explanations are clear and detailed.

One of my editor-friends believes the comma used for introductory words, phrases, and clauses is “going the way of the dinosaur.” While I agree that some people and publications seem to think so, I think it’s still a valid and needed use. [I’ve used introductory commas in this blog – one was in the previous sentence, “While I agree…]

The Fanboys rules is the easiest to remember; however, because of the number of teachers giving the pause advice, I get sentences that look like this:

The Rams won but, not everyone was happy.

We sometimes punctuate our speech this way for emphasis, but you can’t hear tone in these words, and it’s just wrong.  < this sentence contains correct use of the fanboys rule.

co-ordinating-conjuctions-banner-810x405

My students often ask me to explain the whole “Oxford Comma” disagreement. Well, it goes like this: There are people who use the oxford comma and then there are monsters!

Example:Oxford-comma-explained.png

Commas are confusing, but they’re not impossible to learn. Any editor is going to appreciate the correct use of commas regardless of how much they appreciate or introductory comma. 🙂

 

 

A Habit of Success

66 days –

That is what a new study says it takes to form new habits.  The study participants reported a range from 2 to 254, with 66 being an average.

writing+ritual+It depends on the person. With me, it takes 3 to 4 weeks for me to stick to my commitment. And every year my teaching schedule changes, so there’s two to three months a year for me to recommit.

The holidays, however, throws many people off.

However, once the commitment is made and the habit is in place, it’s much easier to get back into the mind space. The secret is to jump right back into the habit after a holiday or change.  writing

Also, I think you have to make an effort to guard that commitment. Don’t be tempted to make lunch plans on a writing hour, make it for later or for a different day.

Life too easily distracts us and, without habits firmly in place, we are easily swayed.

The Journey…..

journey.jpgWriting a novel is not a destination; it’s a journey. It’s the hardest journey you will take with unclear signs, narrow paths, tricky u-turns, treacherous cliffs, an occasional dead end, and a steep road toward the end.

You will come out of this ragged, weary, exhausted, and wondering what it was all for. But then, your newborn book materializes before your eyes and you see it was all worth it.