Viewing 20 posts - 1 through 20 (of 40 total)
  • #75224
    My Writing Project

    A little while ago I asked for some research help for a new writing project that I am working on, and a big thanks to everyone who replied the information has proved very useful, but I thought that I might start regularly posting about my book as it may prove of interest to people who use this site.

    (Of course it may not prove very interesting but then you can always go look at another subject if that is the case – oh the joys of web-based forums!)

    Anyway, enough prattle, let me begin. I have hit a major problem; I have discovered that I find it hard to write about disabled people! Considering that I am a disabled person this came as a bit of a surprise as I have never been shy about my disabilities and I have written at length about them previously.

    The problem seems to be that I have to create 2, probably 3, characters who have to be disabled and about whom I am going to go into some detail on a psychological level. This means that I have to understand something about each character’s disability once I decide who has what. Their conditions have to be serious enough to qualify them as disabled, some may have terminal conditions.

    It all sounds pretty grim but hang in there, I intend this to be a tale of courage in the face of extreme adversity (the novel not my role as a writer)!

    So far I have put off developing any of the disabled characters and started work on the able ones instead. This has proved much easier going and I already have several of the key characters well defined. Indeed both them and the social, political and cultural fabric that forms the backdrop to the story seem to becoming along spiffingly! Its gone so well that I have returned to the main protagonists – the disabled trio!

    I don’t know why there are 3 of them, perhaps because The Three Musketeers is a favourite book of mine, but it may increase to 4 or even reduce to 2 as they are young people and I don’t want any unnecessary allusions to Harry Potter! The asnwer to the issue will come as I write because I find that’s what usually happens – trust the imagination!

    The fact is that I have to break this annoying writer’s block in regards to disabled people. I know that, it’s plainly obvious, only I’ve not done it yet. I am going to keep trying, however, because I think this story that I am writing is going to prove a rather cathertic for me as well – one of the prompts for doing this project was my recovering memories of experiments carried out on me as a child that I had repressed until recently.

    If anyone does find this waffle interesting then please let me know and if you have any questions about the book or writing or anything even remotely linked to this project then please feel free to ask and I will make every effort to answer with something constructive.

    Many thanks for reading.

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93658
    Re: My Writing Project

    I fully get where you are coming from. I find it tricky sometimes writing as an able person because I have forgotten how not to think disabled, I forget how just walking or trotting upstairs happens without conscious thought.

    I think three is a comfortable number for groups, you have the good the bad and the placater, as it were, 4 or more and things tend to split into two or three person groups, there is always the underling and always the leader.

    The psychology of disability is intriguing and definitely for me was connected to my age and how my disability affected my life at that time. For example, a trip to New York City to meet friends and go to a show .. ten years ago I would have been gung-ho, found a way to get myself to the airport, flew alone and met assisting pals at the other end and not been bothered asking for help. Now, ten years later, I cannot even contemplate getting the other side of my front door without an army. New York ain’t gonna happen.

    Disability can be so individual, it is tricky to get how a character sits within their confines as the pitfalls, perils and attributes are not instantly obvious.

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
    Participant
    Posts: 4,751
    Joined: 05/03/2015
    #93659
    Re: My Writing Project

    I get your drift definitely. I am able in some ways and disabled in others – or even more irritatingly, I know I am disabled but because it isn’t visible as such, people see me as perfectly able.

    Deciding who has what disability is a strange one because the disability could be anything I suppose – do you have any in mind?

    Muscular Dystrophy UK staff member

    Alexa Follen
    Moderator
    Posts: 32
    Joined: 12/05/2015
    #93660
    Re: My Writing Project

    @amgmod wrote:

    I fully get where you are coming from. I find it tricky sometimes writing as an able person because I have forgotten how not to think disabled, I forget how just walking or trotting upstairs happens without conscious thought.

    I think three is a comfortable number for groups, you have the good the bad and the placater, as it were, 4 or more and things tend to split into two or three person groups, there is always the underling and always the leader.

    The psychology of disability is intriguing and definitely for me was connected to my age and how my disability affected my life at that time. For example, a trip to New York City to meet friends and go to a show .. ten years ago I would have been gung-ho, found a way to get myself to the airport, flew alone and met assisting pals at the other end and not been bothered asking for help. Now, ten years later, I cannot even contemplate getting the other side of my front door without an army. New York ain’t gonna happen.

    Disability can be so individual, it is tricky to get how a character sits within their confines as the pitfalls, perils and attributes are not instantly obvious.

    I want the group of disabled characters to be somewhat representative of the disabiled as a whole and therein probably lies the problem. Your last paragraph above sums it up succinctly! I think that I may have to use a different method, such as having some characters that are not directly linked to the main group but carrying the story forward in sub-plots from their own perspective of the issues being faced.

    @Cassini wrote:

    I get your drift definitely. I am able in some ways and disabled in others – or even more irritatingly, I know I am disabled but because it isn’t visible as such, people see me as perfectly able.

    Deciding who has what disability is a strange one because the disability could be anything I suppose – do you have any in mind?

    This highlights another consideration; how disabled is disabled? For many years I did not appear to be disabled to other people but I was quiet badly affected by my condition. Today it is much more apparent. I don’t want to ‘skimp’ on the disability in order to make the story easier to write but at the sametime I don’t want evey disabled person in it to be confined to a wheelchair because not every disabled person in real life is!

    I would like to just say that being able to talk like this to other people who have an understanding of these issues is very beneficial. I can discuss the mechanics of writing with other authors but few people want to talk about disability or, more to the point, disabled people.

    Thanks for the responses so far, they are proving very useful. :yes:

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93661
    Re: My Writing Project

    @tygertyger wrote:

    This highlights another consideration; how disabled is disabled? For many years I did not appear to be disabled to other people but I was quiet badly affected by my condition. Today it is much more apparent. I don’t want to ‘skimp’ on the disability in order to make the story easier to write but at the sametime I don’t want evey disabled person in it to be confined to a wheelchair because not every disabled person in real life is!

    I would like to just say that being able to talk like this to other people who have an understanding of these issues is very beneficial. I can discuss the mechanics of writing with other authors but few people want to talk about disability or, more to the point, disabled people.

    Thanks for the responses so far, they are proving very useful. :yes:

    Complex and complicated, before my wheelie days I used to have to fathom routes that did not involve a kerb or step, imagine someone meandering along the kerb edge stopping to see how far the pavement dipped and then looking across the road to see that there was no dip the other side, or walking along the road to where the next dip was .. taking the longer route round because the two tiny steps in the alleyway were too much to handle … always seeming to get to the store just as the delivery arrived and meant having to wait for the lift, looking like a lazy 20-something who couldn’t be arsed with the stairs – that was me.

    As a cripped driver, with blue-badge [orange in them days] parking at the supermarket and slowly walking to the trolleys, do shopping, struggle with trolley and balance back to car, put bags in back seat as could not reach to close boot lid, and then some geriatric erbert in the next car after watching me struggle declares ‘these are disabled spaces you know” … suitably fumed my anger and exhaustion retorted “Yeap, disability is not a geriatric right, so sorry I was not instantly cured at puberty” making sure I twanged my plastic leg brace against the car sill for added effect. :mrgreen: I had my madam panties on that day :rollover:

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
    Participant
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    Joined: 05/03/2015
    #93662
    Re: My Writing Project

    have you ever watch a youtube series called “my gimpy life” its about a wheelie actress called Teal and is a candid not sugar coated view of living as a disabled human. it was a useful teaching aid for my able bodied family to outline some of the crap we face without being all “greetin in yer bear”

    """""""What doesn't kill you makes you stronger""""""

    Cat (Mod) Cat (Mod)
    Moderator
    Posts: 1,002
    Joined: 20/09/2010
    #93663
    Re: My Writing Project

    @amgmod wrote:

    …imagine someone meandering along the kerb edge stopping to see how far the pavement dipped and then looking across the road to see that there was no dip the other side, or walking along the road to where the next dip was .. taking the longer route round because the two tiny steps in the alleyway were too much to handle …

    That’s something that I still do, my muscles do not react normally when first used or after I have been on my feet for sometime, they can freeze leading to temporary paralysis, so I’ve got a good understanding of this situation.

    Catatude, thanks for the suggestion. I have used a wheelchair on various occasions over the years, even been abroad in one once, so I have a good experience of what is involved.

    Thinking on what has been said I see the problem as being one of striking a believable balance between a disabled character being able to do certain things as required by the story and also being reasonably unable to do things that ‘normal’ people can do.

    I’m certainly glad that I started this discussion because it is helping me get my thinking straight! :yes:

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93664
    Re: My Writing Project

    Good news, I’ve broken through my writer’s block regarding disabled people. I have started a character biography for one of my main protagonists, she will be a young girl missing a limb due to Fibular hemimelia. Things are beginning to fall into place.

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
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    #93665
    Re: My Writing Project

    :yes:

    She already sounds feisty, red haired and a force to be reckoned with

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
    Participant
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    #93666
    Re: My Writing Project

    @amgmod wrote:

    :yes:

    She already sounds feisty, red haired and a force to be reckoned with

    Ha ha! I’m not sure about her being an actual redhead (her parentage won’t allow for it) but she will certainly have spirit. I’ve named her ‘Grace’ and she will have to survive in a world actively hostile to disabled people. I’ve already started on her back-story and as it has developed very quickly I have taken this as a sign that I am on the right tack; it worked that way with my first book!

    Grace will be joined by Thomas who is blind but hides an expert ability in human echolocation. They are both young people at the start of the story so their relationship is platonic to begin with. I have decided on at least three more disabled characters who will form their group but be less in focus than Grace and Thomas, sadly their role will be largely like that of the actors who got to wear the red shirt in the original Star Trek series – that is, horrible things happen to them!

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
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    #93667
    Re: My Writing Project

    Well done on your project Peter.

    This is very feisty indeed !

    Keep it up and let us know.

    "Even if you are not paranoid, it does not mean they are not out to get you!".

    taungfox
    Participant
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    #93668
    Re: My Writing Project

    How is the project coming along? :)

    Muscular Dystrophy UK staff member

    Alexa Follen
    Moderator
    Posts: 32
    Joined: 12/05/2015
    #93669
    Re: My Writing Project

    Hello again!

    I have been very busy of late and I owe a debt of thanks to those who have offered me some help so far.

    I knew that I was onto an interesting thing but then I’ve tried to develop plenty of ideas previously but they often just seem to fizzle out but not this one. The first chapter now exists as a first draft, still plenty of work to do on it but it has proven to be a springboard for plot and character development. My initial block of writing about disabled people has now disappeared and my imagination is taking me on a tremendous journey.

    My book has three main threads; first, the plight of a group of young disabled people in a Britain actively hostile to the disabled – and I do mean actively hostile; second, politicians attempting to pursue quite vigorously anti-disability policies using propoganda through the media as well as legislation; and finally, how the misapplication of science can lead to an horrific conclusion.

    I really do not want to give too much away yet as it is such early days but here’s what I can tell you so far.

    The two main characters are Grace and Thomas, she has a deformed left hand an no right leg, he is blind from birth. Their friendship is founded in a growing realisation that their lives are at risk in a world that has turned against them simply because they are disabled and seen as a burden on society. As the story develops they prove themselves loyal, brave, inventive and smarter than the majority of their persecutors. They also come to realise that despite their disabilities they also possess abilities that very few other people in the world could even imagine.

    Their enemies number a government minister who has a deeply ingrained hatred for the disabled and his junior minister who has her own reasons for pursuing Grace to her death. They are the public face of a government policy that is both seductive and corrupt and they have both the law and the resources of the country at their disposal to remove any opposition; how hard can it be to kill a couple of crippled kids?

    I am beginning to develop a host of other characters, as well as an intrigue with secret societies, and I have what I think is a novel backdrop against which to play out this tale. I am getting excited just by writing this update!! :D

    Like I said, I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but I can say that this story is not just about the disabled, it is about the attitudes of people in general and how they can be moulded to become something quite lacking in compassion and basic humanity. The good guys are not all disabled, there are some able-bodied people fighting for the disabled as well, just like in the real world, but the situation is grim, almost overwhelming to Grace and Thomas, and the stakes are high.

    I hope that whets your appetite?

    In a few weeks I might be asking for some volunteers to read the first chapter for me and give me your views if anyone is interested? Please remember that this is a work in progress so I cannot be accurate about when I think that the first chapter will be ready to read, I’ve got another book to finish at the moment as well.

    Again, thanks for your interest.

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93670
    Re: My Writing Project

    It is very exciting :) got my attention just reading that brief synopsis! I would be happy to have a read if you need volunteers :)

    A learning experience is one of those things that say, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.” - Douglas Adams

    sar78 sar78
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    #93671
    Re: My Writing Project

    Sounds intriguing. I’d be happy to volunteer to do some reading if you still need people.
    Val

    Valerie
    Participant
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    #93672
    Re: My Writing Project

    Apetite whetted :p

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
    Participant
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    #93673
    Re: My Writing Project

    Time for an update!

    My first novel has proven quite a success and I have been devoting my time to finishing the second, it’s a trilogy you see, so I have not done much work on the project I raised here. Do not fear, however, it remains alive and well and is quietly growing as I turn and feed it with some more writing everytime I get a bit fed up with Saxons and Vikings! It is my intention to write this project in tandem with the final part of the trilogy, which will hopefully mean commencing serious work in August!

    Although I have not been at the keyboard, so to speak, to write about Grace and Tom they have been running, or limping, or wheeling, around my head ever since I thought up this idea. I take this to be a good sign, the story is growing in my imagination and apparently not dependent upon me getting it all down on paper…virtual or otherwise!

    For me it comes as no surprise that this project has slipped somewhat, I have a full-time job, a wife, kids, and a football club to support, and the success of my first book was a delightful distraction, but do not fear, the disabled are going to get their day in print as heroes worthy of breaking society’s image of us as benefit scrounging malingerers!

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93674
    Re: My Writing Project

    Some ides just won’t go away, and they are usually the good ones :yes: it is developing ready to flow from the fingers :)

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
    Participant
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    #93675
    Re: My Writing Project

    That’s exactly what I think! Weak ideas, no matter how good they seem initially, soon fizzle out, but this one is getting stronger. I reckon that I am ready to start the first draft, it is just other considerations getting in the way. Hopefully I will be free to start the actual writing as stated above. Once I have something worthwhile I will offer it to a select few ‘beta’ readers to see what you think! :D

    TygerTyger
    Participant
    Posts: 283
    Joined: 08/09/2010
    #93676
    Re: My Writing Project

    :yes:

    I'm always the animal, my body's the cage

    I blog about nothingness www.amgroves.com

    AM
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