Sunday, August 7, 2016

What Matters (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Abled? Disabled? What do these words mean? Can they change depending on circumstances or...? These questions turned over and over in my mind as I wrote What Matters.

"Looking through the trees to the other shore"
Photo by Leanne Dyck

What Matters

We noticed her before him. It was her clothing, her figure, her hair, her face. She didn't look like a nurse. Her high heels made sharp click, click noises as she pushed the man in the wheelchair to the centre of the stage. The microphone stand had already been lowered so she turned to leave. But he grabbed her arm, pulled her down closer to him. Whatever he whispered made her blush and giggle. She blew him a kiss as she left the stage.

Tradition dictated the need for two speeches--one from the valedictorian. Our brain had even tried for humour. Failed, but tried. An alumnus--a lawyer, a doctor, a politician--usually delivered the other one. But this year someone had asked this guy in a wheelchair. 

"Ladies. Gentlemen. New graduates." His commanding voice filled the hall like he had a right to be here like he had something to say. "I'm honoured that you selected me to address you on one of the most important transitions of your life."

Of course, he couldn't read it on our faces, but we all thought it. Yeah, well, we didn't choose you, but we are judging you. So give us your best.

"In many ways, it seems like only yesterday that I was where you are now--unsure of the future. What would I accomplish? How would I make my mark? How would I contribute to society? These questions haunted me. And to be frank no one expected much--no one had ever expected much. Like a wadded up scrap of paper, my body has always been twisted and torn. I'll never be a bodybuilder. I have no body to build."

A suppressed laugh quickly became a cough.

"I thought my disability was my excuse. Then someone, maybe my guidance counsellor, told me about Steven Hawking--a brilliant scientist trapped in a body worse than mine. Heck, he couldn't even talk without his computer. But he'd overcome all excuses. If he could do that, what was stopping me? What everyone else thought? Who cares about that? No, what was stopping me was poor self-esteem.

"Once that mystery was solved I decided to go for it. I knew what I couldn't do. Now I needed to know what I was capable of. Steven Hawking had an amazing mind. What did I have?"

We waited in the palm of his hand.

"My voice--elocution. I worked very hard and obtained a good position on the corner of Harold Street between the Safeway and the Liquor Mart. It made people feel good to see me there. They'd drop a few cents into my hat and walk away feeling superior--feeling like they in their perfect body, in their perfect world had helped a poor, helpless cripple. And me? I let them. I smiled and wished them a good day. But I know they won't even have noticed me without my voice. 'Good day,' I'd say. 'Hello, there, how are you today?' or 'My what a pretty dress.' I knew exactly what to say to everyone.

"Sitting there, doing my thing, that's how I got my big break. I thought he was just a dude in a tie. I was wrong. Turns out he was much more than that. He was a producer with Disney. He heard my voice, noticed me, and gave me an opportunity. The rest I did on my own. The yacht, the mansion, the supermodel girlfriend--I earned all of that.

"If you learn nothing else from my example, learn this:  believe in yourself, discover your gift, and use it."

Next post:  To be published on Sunday, August 7th (around 5 PM PST) What's wrong with writing multi-genres?
When you hear the name Danielle Steel? What genre comes to mind? Romance? How about Stephen King? Horror? Thriller? What about Margaret Atwood? Poetry...Non-fiction...Novels...Children's books... Huh. And she didn't wait to get a name in one genre before moving on to another. (Margaret Atwood's publishing history.)
Why shouldn't you dance with your muse? Why shouldn't you write the stories you're excited by--regardless of the genre?
That's what I'm doing...but it's not all lollipops and unicorns. There's a problem. 
I'm planning to discuss this problem in my next post.

Picture Books in Canada

Photo by Leanne Dyck

courses at the University of Toronto
Writing for Children:  Introduction
Writing for Children:  Picture Books

Photo by B Dyck

This picture book conceived by a granddaughter and written by a grandma.
Picture Book book launch
on Mayne Island 
Friday, August 12th
at the library

Photo by Leanne Dyck

Sharing my author journey...

How do you feel after finishing a major writing project? 

The day I finished self-editing my novel and handed it to my first reader I felt like a rock star. The day after I felt like I was missing a body part--an arm or a leg. 
(This is the first time in a long time that I haven't had another project to take up the slack. I have other smaller projects--but nothing big.)
Do you go through this? How do you cope? How do you encourage your mind to take a holiday?