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

 

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Thank you, Patty!

noreen

 

 

 

The Writer’s Support System

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Maybe it’s me, but I doubt I’m alone in this: A writer’s support system sometimes seems a shaky and insecure. Some people do not understand, others say ridiculous things, and some are even jealous of our steps forward.

Finding a support system is an active and ongoing endeavor. People move on, they step back, and we need to keep moving forward, be unwilling to let negative people and comments to hold us back.

Don’t be afraid to move on. It doesn’t mean you have to cut contact with everyone or even anyone, but you certainly want to keep those who are positive supporters of your in the forefront of your mind and heart.

Sometimes, we feel very alone. Writing is a solitary act, but we don’t have to live in a bubble. Make contact through writer’s groups, online and in person. Meet other writers at conferences or critique groups and stay in contact with them. Join a book group, we need friends.

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Photo Credit: Noreen Lace / Here in the Silence

 

To Publish or not to Publish – is that really a question?

To some people it is.

I have a friend who picks and chooses where he wants to be published so carefully that he submits maybe once or twice a year at most. He hasn’t been published in maybe 6 or 8 years.

He’s an extremely good writer. Better than I.  colllins

He says, he wants to only be published where his name will be seen, where it will matter.

I took this to mean he didn’t approve of my many publications with small presses, some of which no one has ever heard.

What do you value and why? Ask yourself.

Billy Collins, btw, began publishing in what he refers to as fly by night or small presses of which no one ever heard.

 

Write Lightening

How did the three blind mice meet?

Why were they chasing the farmer’s wife?

Go – Write it!

blind mice

Interruptions…

I’m going to interrupt the flow of this blog , but windex1.jpge really should talk about how we deal with interruptions to our work.

I try not to take phone calls during my work time; however, sometimes I have to. A doctor appointment, a work call – all important, can’t wait until later. At least with those, you know you won’t be on the phone long.

The other day a friend called me. I hadn’t talked to him in over a month, so I wanted to see how he was. We live in different times zone, which makes scheduling time for a chat rather challenging. I told myself, even upon answering, that I wouldn’t talk long. But we did get carried away in catching up.

Set boundaries. I finally did tell him I needed to get back to my writing. He understands. Many people don’t, so I don’t regularly say that. I do tell them I can talk to them later or that I’m in the middle of something – both of which are true.

Phone calls and text messages are easier to put on hold – put the phone in the other room or turn it off. It really is not that hard.  Having children or spouses is a whole different topic, which I’m going to talk about during another blog.

*

Right now, as I said, I need to interrupt the flow of this the gold tooth.jpgblog with an announcement.

You can win my short story, The Gold Tooth! Click here. This is only for a limited time.

Long lost sisters are reunited at the reading of their mother’s will. Celeste who has cared for their mother in her declining years is awarded a small, broken music box. The force of nature, Nancy, who hasn’t been seen they were teenagers, is awarded the entire estate. Before they leave the office, Nancy is given the option to exchange the estate for the box. Nancy laughs off the incredible offer and moves into the estate. What’s discovered in the music box could cost one sister her freedom and the other her life.

My Family Can’t Find Out!

woman-in-shadow-1280x853-1024x682Many posts in writers’ groups and questions in writerly gathering surrounds the fear of family or friends finding out what they are writing.

Surprisingly, some of these are fiction writers. Although many are memoirists, poets, fiction writers and essayists are also concerned with offending someone they know.

My response to this is: They’ll probably never recognize themselves! The truth is many people see themselves far differently than others do.

Furthermore, studies show that we remember events differently; to be more accurate, we remember different details of the same events, and our memories are not as reliable as we’d like to think.

Legally, in memoir, if names are changed, there is little a person can do if they do recognize themselves. One attorney told me: They’re welcome to write their own version of the events.

Fear stock-fearshould never hold a writer back. A small change in details or location can allow for some question if someone does think the story might include them.

Even if you think you’ll never publish it – write it. You’ll feel better!

 

Approaching Authenticity – Creativity, Psychology, and Christian Faith by Bozena Zawisz

bozenaSomething I often hear as a counselor is clients speaking about the weight of expectations they feel they’re carrying on their shoulders; and the frustration, guilt, or resentment they feel in relation to them.

Many of these expectations are often tied to a particular role they “fall into,” that contains within it: unexamined assumptions relating to some action(s) they feel they should be doing, rules for communicating (what they feel they should be saying, and how), pressures to take on board “shared” viewpoints…

Often they express feeling as if they lost their center or connection with themselves.

Some roles are consciously/purposefully chosen. I choose to relate to clients within the boundaries of a counselors’ role. At other times, individuals can fall into an interaction where there is an expectation/pressure to engage in a “role-play”… mindlessly… pulled by some emotional pathway, deeply engraved by a lifetime’s worth of conditioning… For example, many adults continue to feel strongly affected by their parents’ perceived expectations of them…

Sometimes individuals’ roles within relationships include assumptions about hierarchy (in some cultures more than others), expectations relating to distributions of privileges, expectations relating to the division of weight that is placed on the inner experience of each individual. Often, the language which does not fit an expected role-script is unwelcome, discouraged…

One of my favorite historical examples of a figure who modeled the importance of rising beyond roles and cultural expectations, and embodied authenticity and inner strength, was Jesus. I admire the way he kept right away from describing himself via popular roles or politically loaded terms of the time, which he perceived as a poor fit with his life’s journey and purpose.

I love the way Jesus preferred to describe his inner experience and communion with God using creative metaphors-that beautifully made use of people’s familiar associations (e.g. used imagery such as harvests, laborers, etc.) yet transcended the language of the well established familiar social and political roles, traditions, expectations, and their underlying beliefs and perceptions.

Jesus had a hard time with the Pharisees. Perhaps they perceived his non-compliance with the established roles that reinforced their power and privileges-most unsettling. Jesus smacked too much of personal power, disregard for the authority of political/social pecking order…

Possibly to connect with a sense of inner peace, he was documented to withdraw into solitude oftentimes, perhaps in this way he restored his strength by nurturing his connection with God. Just as in his case, I believe that it is a helpful first step in our journey towards authenticity to find ways to connect with a loving place of self-care and strength within ourselves.

Given the powerful focus our society (and at times other people) have on trying to hijack strong within_frontour attention and encourage us to look to the outside of ourselves for fulfillment–creative expression of, and reflection on, our inner experience allows us to re-center and reconnect with our inner journey of transformation.

And, support us in reclaiming control over reconstructing our experience so that it resonates with our values, faith, the direction of our journey, and more closely aligns with our truth.

Bozena Zawisz

Website

Neither Innocent or Guilty

 

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Many Thanks for sharing!

noreen