Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Believe in Your Truth

Today I was catching up on a blog that, due to alphabetical listing, hangs out near the bottom of my blog feed and thus doesn't get read nearly as often as it should. "PilgrimSteps" is written by a woman who is not only a great writer and photographer, but a chronicler of daily life with disability. That she manages to do this bravely, touchingly, with such generosity of spirit and without a hint of self-pity is impressive and inspiring. Especially for those of us who wallow in self-pity more than we should.

In a post from December 19, she interviews Gary Wesley, author of "Seven Wheelchairs: A Life Beyond Polio" The whole interview is interesting and worth a read, but I was struck by his response when she asks what his advice would be to aspiring writers who'd like to write about their own disabilities:

"Don't begin unless you're wiling to learn more about the person you may really be ... I cannot say that I knew Gary Presley entirely until I finished Seven Wheelchairs and then began to contemplate what I wrote. I pray I'm not deluded, but I think I like myself a little better now.

As to the practicalities of the writing process ...
  • Write every day.
  • Join a critique group, preferably an online one where people will be more apt to tell you the truth about your work.
  • Take criticism without becoming defensive.
  • Regard criticism as opinion.
  • That means stay true to your voice and your message.
  • Grammar and syntax are important but not as important as the story and the truth it contains.
  • Tell the truth even when it hurts, especially if it is painful for you to tell it.
  • Remember the truth is sometimes subjective, which means each person perceives events and people differently.
  • Believe in your truth.
  • Prepare to be rejected, multiple times.
  • Persevere in the face of those rejections."

"Seven Wheelchairs" at Amazon.com

1 comment:

Gary said...

Thanks for noticing the interview piece. I am both happy with the memoir and unsettled that I could not write more. No matter how hard we dig we can never learn all the truths about ourselves.

I'd be happy to exchange blog feeds and/or Facebook links. My blog is at http://www.garypresley.com and my Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=757677148

However, you being a Master Gardener, I must warn you that my mother's talent with all things growing or blooming skipped my generation.

Happy holidays!

Gary www.garypresley.comm