Yesterday, my cousin and I had a meeting with a Councillor who also happens to a Minister of Parliament to pitch a proposed project for my day job. I’ve not done anything like that before, even though I’ve taught at University and led tours of archaeological sites.
To be honest, since my mobility has decreased over the last 18 years with rheumatoid arthritis, I have shunned putting myself out there. It’s easier to be ‘normal’ online where it is more my voice that matters. Not that I hide my disability, I mention it quite often in discussions on social media. I simply don’t want it to define me.
If we are honest, despite how PC and inclusive society has tried to become, people do still judge and compare each other. If someone is different, we notice, we can’t help it, it is wired into our primordial reptile brain. It’s what we do after we notice that makes us human, whether good or bad.
I self-publish my fiction writing, and having an online voice is good. It is important I promote my writing on the internet and try to engage with as many people all over the world as possible. It is the main part of my marketing strategy. But focusing on cyberspace sometimes makes me forget the opportunities in the real world.
Yesterday reminded me I have a voice outside of zeros and ones. I must also develop a local following of people whose hands I can shake and books I can sign in person. It also made me realise I had, by the inches, become afraid of presenting myself in public. I had forgotten I could do that quite well, despite being slow and staggering about with crutches, souped up on pain meds, anti-inflammatories, and immune suppressants. I had been so concerned about other people defining me by my disability, I inadvertently defined myself by it.
It’s time to change.
I’m going to hook up with my local library and see if they have opportunities for book readings. I write short stories, so there will be more of a market for a couple of complete works people can enjoy rather than a few passages from a novel.
I’m also going to look into developing a disability-friendly horror writers meeting group. There already is a horror writing group in my city, but it meets in a place that is inaccessible to me – up a steep set of steps on the second floor of a pokey pub. I may have to expand it to fantasy and sci-fi, but that is fine because I love writing those genres too and often twist an element of them into my horrors.
I’m not sure how soon it will happen.
I might have to psych myself up a bit.
But I am going to do it.
Oh, and BTW, the meeting with the Councillor was positive.
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