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Inclusion of people with disabilities is a concept that is simple to understand but very difficult to implement correctly. If inclusion is implemented correctly, everyone involved learns to work together in order to cultivate strength and overcome weakness. Seeds of empowerment will forever be planted in the heart. If inclusion is implemented incorrectly, weakness can smother strength and self esteem can wither in the burning heat of anger and self pity.

I’ve struggled with inclusion all of my life. Never more so then when I started college. I needed a lot of help to live in the dorm I couldn’t get in and out of bed on my own. So I often had to go to bed early which left little time for socializing in between classes, because I had to be put in bed when my aid could do it. Due to certain other physical differences, it took me longer to complete classwork. so I was working a lot. I felt that my disability erected a wall between me and my dorm mates that I had trouble breaking and I was sensitive about it.

My senior year, I was required to do a community service project. I was invited to go to a local church to fix burritos for the homeless. No one told us that this church wasn’t wheelchair accessible. I could get in the door but I couldn’t go downstairs to help make food. I remember the priest saying “Handicapped access is a problem for us, but if you stay here and tell people to go downstairs if they try to use the front door, it would be helpful.” I nodded as he locked the door.

This was not inclusion, this was a patronizing attempt to avoid embarrassment. If it wasn’t for the nice young woman who kept me company all night. I would have felt awful.

Since the church didn’t work, I went to a soup kitchen where I was able to work. I helped to peal potatoes and put things in salad. I did it slower than anybody there, but I felt like a part of things. I was there to help and I did.

All people, regardless of circumstance or ability, want to feel seen and heard. Its important for all people to feel included in the right way, for the right reasons.

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World Building

Many characters can grow in the garden of literature, but, they can’t grow in a vacuum. Characters need a context in which to act, just like a flower need soil in which to grow. The world needs to make sense and be consistent. You need to describe the government, the people and the rules of their society and most important, the world needs to be understandable and unique. The world will throw villains and allies at the hero and they must grow organically from the context the world provides. The reader must become invested in this world. These are the most important things to know when building a setting for a story.

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Finding my voice

The purpose of a writer’s voice is to separate them from other writers, the same way a brand separates similar products in the marketplace. Editors look for writers with distinctive and unique voices because readers like unique and different spins on tried and true tales. So I need to find out what makes my voice unique and develop that. Any ideas on how I can further develop my unique voice?

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Shape your world.

I’m going to give you a little advice dear reader. I’ve made the biggest mistakes in my life because I tried to turn myself into something I thought the world wanted me to be. My most anxiety ridden moments happened because I thought that I needed to define myself by someone else’s standard rather than just living by my own. One of the things that writing has taught me is that I need to quiet myself, that is when I hear my characters voices most clearly. The point I’m trying to make is this. Happiness is a subjective state. What makes one person happy might not be true for another. The only person you need to please is yourself. When I tried to shape myself to reach somebody else’s standards, all I got was depressed. Shape your world. Don’t let the world shape you.

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The Badass Problem.

I’ve discovered something I’ve coined ‘The Badass Problem.’ I have a penchant for wanting my characters to be Badass; I want them to always know what to do and I want them to always come out on top. There’s a problem with that sort of thinking. Life just doesn’t work that way. People make mistakes and screw up. Sometimes they fail, sometimes they succeed. But they always grow, and they learn. Where’s the balance between reality and fantasy that must be judiciously observed so that the audience does not lose interest? That is ‘The Badass Problem.’

Any thoughts?

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The Problem with Evil: A Point of View

Evil is an unacknowledged part of every human soul. Everybody does things they shouldn’t. Everybody has selfish “Me’ moments and seductive, and easy. Sometimes, We all want to do things the easy way. Understanding why is important. People have reasons for the things they do. They might not be valid reasons, they might no even be what you, or I, would consider sane reasons, but, nonetheless, they’re reasons have to be understandable and compelling. Why is this person like this? Why do they view the world the way they do? Revenge? have they been wronged in the past? Is the world so incredibly screwed up that only they can fix it? If so, Why? Backstory plays a key roll. The reasons need to be easily understood by the reader. There’s the rub. We like to flirt with evil. We like to poke it with a metaphorical stick and see if it moves. Good & Evil are simply points of view. A good villain is a hero in his own mind. He behaves in such a way in order to achieve his goal. The same could be said for the hero. When both of these people believe they’re firmly planted in the roots of righteousness, conflict grows naturally. Evil is a part of every person. What makes it compelling is that like good, it is rooted in our own point of view.

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I want to talk about embarrassment. Its a hard thing with which to contend. We all have to deal with it many times in many situations. The trick to coping with embarrassment is to understand that it is an internal force. Embarrassment works by eroding the foundation of self-esteem. If a person is comfortable with themselves the actions of other people can’t embarrass them.

a couple of weeks ago, I went to the mall for coffee with a friend. I needed to wait. So I ran around the mall for a while. While I was doing that, three different children asked their parents What was wrong with me. Each of their parents chastised them loudly enough for me to hear. I was neither embarrassed nor offended by their question, in fact, I would have gladly answered them. The children asked their question because they saw someone who looked different and wanted to understand why, not because they wanted to cause pain or embarrassment.

If our society wants children to learn tact and discretion, they need to be given an opportunity to exercise and hone that skill. We also need to teach them that being different is alright. One of the ways we can do that is to indulge innocent childish curiosity. What do you think those kids learned by being chastised the way they were? They could have learned not to look at or speak with people in wheelchairs. They may ignore them in the future. That doesn’t make my life easier, and, more importantly, it won’t make their life easier either. It will only perpetuate their ignorance and fear. We need to let children be children, despite potential embarrassment. If we do that, life will be better for everyone.

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The Purpose of Metaphor.

What is the purpose of a metaphor? I was taught that memories are like signposts for stories. They are points on a road that connects ideas. This is especially useful when writing fiction because a well chosen metaphor can bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. First talk about something about in the fictional world and use a metaphor to tie it, with a strong knot, to something the reader understands, so that it draws them more deeply into the narrative. It is possible, however, to use to many metaphors. You bog down the story and the audience becomes board. How do I strike the proper balance between action and exposition?
Any ideas?

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Happy new Year

Happy New Year Everyone!

I’ve had a relatively productive year. I am very proud of finishing a fifth draft of my manuscript and sending it to a Beta reader. Its hard for me to put myself out there like that. So, when I get up the nerve to show my work to someone, I feel proud. Writing has been challenging but its a challenge I can meet. What are some of your resolutions for 2106?

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Star Wars The Force Awakens

Star Wars is my favorite movie franchise. I loved the original trilogy. I even liked the prequels. Star Wars is one of the things that got me into Fantasy. So, as you can imagine, I loved this movie. It was familiar and new at the same time. The old character and the new characters meshed well. I felt it was symmetrical with what had come before. I am happy.