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The right sort of inspiration.

April 29, 2015 • eparkin1208

When I was about six years old, I was given an award by a teacher because I took my coat off. I don’t specifically remember what this award was, it might have been a cookie, The award itself is unimportant. What is important to note is that I was awarded for taking my coat off. Something I am able to do, if I remember that it needs to be done. None of the other children in class were praised or awarded for taking their coat off. It was expected of them and they did it. But for whatever reason this teacher, whoever it was, wasn’t used to a kid in a wheelchair taking off his own coat. I was singled out and highly praised, for doing something that all of my peers were expected to do as well. I don’t remember much about this incident, neither the name of the teacher, nor, the sort of cookie. I just remember being singled out, I probably felt happy I got a cookie, but there was also a sense of otherness, embarrassment, a reminder that I was not the same as my peers.

It hasn’t happened often, but sometimes, people want to praise me for doing regular normal things. I think they do it because they think life is harder for me because of my disability. Sometimes they’re right. A disability can make life harder but that doesn’t mean that I should be praised for doing simple things. I am a person, I should be expected to go out and do the things people do. Go out, make choices, face consequences, live.

I think, sometimes, that our society’s view of the disabled is somewhat distorted. We are either seen as a larger than life inspiration over coming great odds, or someone always in need of help from other people. I am neither of those. I am a person, and in my stories I try see. my characters, as people, the way I want to be seen, as people, neither objects of pity, nor inspiration.

The world can be hard for disabled folks, yes. But the world is hard on anyone. That is why its important to give our children a proper sense of themselves so that they can live in it and whether any storms that come their way. If any child is singled out for doing what they know they’re able to do, they might grow up with a sense of entitlement, but if they aren’t praised often enough it will be difficult for them to have faith in themselves. Its important to inspire people, but do it in the right way, for the right reasons.

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Advocacy

April 27, 2015 • eparkin1208

Advocacy. If there’s been one thing that’s been drilled into me all of of my life its the importance of advocacy. Its true, for anybody doing anything, you have to advocate for yourself in order to get what you want.

Marketing a book involves a lot of advocacy. As I approach publishers, I need to be confident and genuine, and very clear about what need and my own expectations. Then, I have to be clear on their expectations of me and whether I can meet them. Searching for a publisher will certainly be an exorcize in advocacy.

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World Book Day

April 23, 2015 • eparkin1208

Happy World Book day! 4/23/15 Reading is important! Be sure to do it a lot! 🙂

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The Quest for Faith

April 21, 2015 • eparkin1208

The quest for faith is a primal driving force that animates all of humanity. Faith is that special spark that gives us light in the darkness of an ignorant world. Human beings should always strive to increase their knowledge. I was taught that there are three kinds of knowledge; What we know, what we think we know, and, what we can prove. Faith gives us assurance that what we think we know is true, and, lights our way through the darkness of what we don’t understand. My purpose here is not to debate faith, or the validity of spirituality, I just want to explain why its important to my life, and maybe guess on its place in the world.

People in our society learn to glorify what is different at an early age. That’s a good thing, because it helps us to grow into kind, tolerant, intelligent, people. What some people don’t realize is that their is different, and, there is Different. Some differences are more deserving of a capital then others.

I was born with a physical disability,It effects everything I do, every moment of my life. That makes me Different from almost everybody with whom I interact on a daily basis. Sometimes, it seems that there is a wall between me and the world that nothing I do can break. Yet, I try anyway. Why? Because, if I did nothing, the wall would still be there. Maybe if I work at it I will finally understand why I am Different in the first place.

I have faith.

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Video Games

April 19, 2015 • eparkin1208

I am a gamer. I like video games. When I was growing up, there weren’t many adaptive sports in which I could participate. But I could participate in video game sessions. I vividly enjoyed helping my brother get Link to the Triforce in The Legend of Zelda or helping Mario rescue princess Peach. But my most favorite games to play were a sub genre of computer games called adventure games.

Adventure games were made popular in the early eighties by companies like Sierra On-line and Lucasarts. These games weren’t twitchy button mashers. I was never good at those because I couldn’t control my fingers well. But adventure games changed that for me. These games weren’t twitchy so I didn’t have to worry about losing in the first five seconds of play. When playing a game like Kings Quest from Sierra On-line, I felt that I was experiencing an interactive storybook, I had to guide the character, and make choices for him to advance the plot. Kings Quest chronicles the story of Sir Graham. He has been summoned to the castle by his ailing king in order to find three lost magic treasures ans, through their recovery, prove his worthiness to ascend to the throne. It was up to me and my friends to help Graham complete his Quest.

I could participate in these games, because they did not rely on how fast I could push a button, but on logic and clear thinking. These games allowed me ton engage with my friends. They also entertained me with their stories. They probably influenced me to try writing.

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Why do you blog?

April 13, 2015 • eparkin1208

Why do I blog? Simple practice. The key to proficiency in any skill is practice. Learning is an arduous process, to attain perfection talent’s raw metal must be shaped by the hammer of repetition sacrificed on the alter of failure, and tested by the fires of experience to hold its shape. So, if I want to practice writing, I must write. A writer must gain exposure if he wants to be published, a blog can help with that too.

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How do you describe color to a blind man?

April 11, 2015 • eparkin1208

How do you describe color to a one who is blind? For in essence, that is what I am trying to do with my writing. I am, as writers sometimes do, speaking figuratively. The blind cannot see with their eyes, as far as I know, we must remember that I’m not blind. Can the blind perceive the color? Can they differentiate between Blue, and Teal? I would think not, but I am not blind so I don’t know. For all I know I could be making an unwarranted assumption. What I am really asking is: How do you explain something to someone for which they, seemingly, have no reference frame? I’ll frame my topic sentence another way. I would like to use my writing to help people gain a sense of empathy for those with disabilities. But, they’re some things about having a disability, that I think only another person with a disability can truly understand.

For example, How do I explain what happens in the mind of a nine year old fourth grade wheelchair driver , when he is called Retard for the first time? How do I explain how it forever altered the way he saw him himself and those around him? It taught him that being different is tough, and that he will struggle with that knowledge for the rest of his life.

How do I explain what its like, to be that same wheelchair driver, now twenty-five years of age and to still hear the word Retard tossed about a college campus like an ultimate Frisbee?

How do I explain what goes through my mind ,as a wheelchair user, when I’m confronted with steps?

How do I explain what it feels like to be a grown man and wet the bed because I can’t make it to the toilet by myself?

How do I explain the way some people approach me, as If I’m a life-form they haven’t seen before and they aren’t quite sure what to do with me?

I need to explain these things to the reader in an accessible way so that they can have a frame of reference for their own lives. If I don’t give them that, the most I will get is sympathy. I don’t want sympathy from my readers, I want their empathy. If you want to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy, you need to understand why my parents chose not to give me the answers to my homework when I was little. They wanted me to arrive at the answer myself, so that I would understand why the answer was the answer. I want my readers to understand why a disability is sometimes hard. But I also want them to understand that folks with disabilities can still do lots of things. An empathic frame of reference would help them understand that. It is my task to try and give them one.

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A letter to my Brain.

April 9, 2015 • eparkin1208

Dear Brain:

You’ll have to excuse me, I’ve never anthropomorphized one of my own internal organs before. But lately, I feel like I have some things I want to talk with to you about. You and I have never really gotten along before. I’ll just call a spade a spade Okay? For a long time, you’ve done a really crappy job of helping me control my body. You have, don’t deny it. Do you understand how hard it is to walk with bent knees? and I don’t like that you make certain body parts shake for no reason whatsoever, or, that you haven’t let me straiten my arms since I was three, I don’t think its funny that you won’t let my legs walk. Or that you sometimes make my wheelchair run into walls, or, you won’t let me speak coherently, and those two times you made me he have to wear a body cast for two months were entirely unpleasant.
Nevertheless, I am a big enough person to admit, that I, on occasion, have wronged you. It was wrong for me to stick the glue-stick up my nose when I was three. I admit that, the teacher stopped me, no harm, no foul.
I’ll get down to it Mr. Brain. You are a very creative organ, really, I’m proud of you. Ever since we agreed to try this Writing thing, you have given me at least five different ideas for projects. I’m grateful. But I do have one request, could you not send me ideas when I am busy working on another idea? It presents me with a loss of focus which, is distracting. We may be able to add to the literary landscape, but only, if we work on one thing at a time. Have we got a deal?

Thanks very much for your efforts on my behalf.

Sincerely,

Erik Parkin

Categories: Writing

Elevator Pitch

April 8, 2015 • eparkin1208

Imagine you are in an elevator. All of a sudden, it stops, and a literary agent, or publisher, steps inside and you have from here to the next floor to make an impression. What would you say to help them remember you and set yourself apart from all the other writers they hear about? Well, here, in part, is what I would say.

I believe that a writer has two jobs. The first. is to tell a fun and entertaining story, and secondly, to be an observer of humanity and to speak for parts of society that need a voice. I like to use characters with disabilities in my writing because, as someone with a disability, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of disabled characters growing up. I try to make my characters as grounded as possible so that the reader invests their empathy in them and wants to understand what their life may be like. I make the disability only one aspect of the character, because I want the reader to understand that a disability is only one part of life. My stories engage the reader with well thought out settings, gripping plots, and strong, capable, likable characters, whether they have a disability, or not.

What do you think?

Categories: Finding An Agent

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

April 6, 2015 • eparkin1208

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
William Shakespeare Sonnet 29

Like every high-school student, I encountered Shakespeare. I dealt with his plays more than his sonnets. The ones I remember are Twelth Knight and Julius Cesar. Ironically, it was Star Trek which first introduced me to his sonnets. Specifically. Sonnet 29. It was a gift from Picard to Data. I could always empathize with Data, the android officer,
he was very different from everyone with whom he interacted on a daily basis. I wondered if Data understood why he was different. As a person with a disability, sometimes I too, “Beweep
my outcast state.” Meaning is different for every person. I won’t speak for Data, but for me, this sonnet is about finding meaning in suffering and gaining strength from the quest. Its about gaining power through eschewing pity and ultimately coming to the knowledge that the road to self-actualization begins with embracing our outcast state. If we can do that, we will soon scorn to change our fate with kings.

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