11 July 2009

All The Best Things Come From Writing...

For me at least. While researching Deaf Culture for a secondary character I came across the state Relay program. Whenever a deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired individual needs to place a phone call, they use TTY (TeleTYpewriter) or TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) devices that to connect them to a communications assistance and from there to their party. The communications assistance or CA is a transparent agent that types everything heard and speaks everything typed, allowing the speech impaired and those in the deaf community the same effortless information exchange the rest of us enjoy by just picking up the phone.

Looking further into the program I found out that my state Relay was hiring and jumped in with both feet. It was an opportunity to leave a typical EDJ (evil day job) and pursue something that was fulfilling, non-profit, and writer-friendly. More importantly, it was the chance to learn more about Deaf Culture and move my secondary character to a primary with confidence.

See all the best things really do come from writing and the research involved. I not only got a new job, but a new story and an atmosphere to do it right. And it all brings to mind a few questions.

For the writers: Have you ever considered writing your hero (or one of your heroes, you know I love the multiples) with a disability, or who was differently-abled? If so, did you feel confident in your choice to do so? If not, do you think it is because the concept of “hero” and “impairment” don’t go together easily?

For the readers: What’s the last book you read with a main character that was impaired, but the book was not about the impairment? Did you feel the impairment was fairly portrayed and dealt with in the course of the story?

For everyone: Do you think that in paranormal fiction preternatural handicaps have replaced mortal impairments? What would you like to see explored in more depth when it comes to character diversity? Do mundane impairments make it difficult for you to see a character as a full “alpha male”?

Answering one of my own questions; the last prominent character with a mundane physical impairment I remember (and deeply love) is Nick Andros from The Stand by Stephen King. In that same story is a central character with a mundane mental impairment, Tom Cullen. Without ever thinking about them in terms of the impairments, The Stand has been and will likely always be my favorite book because the characters were people before they were anything else. The way it should be.

(M-O-O-N, that spells favorite. All of you who get the reference are my new best friends. Call me)
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