A Guide to Crafting When You Live with Disability | Script Revolution

A Guide to Crafting When You Live with Disability

Introduction: 

Sometimes it's easy to assume everyone out there on the other side of a computer screen is fully able-bodied but that's often not the case. Those living with disabilities can find seemingly easy things difficult too such as being able to simply sit at a computer and type. Lily Blaze is very open about the difficulties she faces and in this article goes into some detail, gives some guidance, and closes on a very important message we can all benefit from listening to - CJ

Many members here know that I'm a Canadian who lives with disability. I'm not shy about it. This is just my life.

As I continue to develop my craft, I've often needed to translate in my mind to apply certain lessons within my abilities. It can be exhausting. I don't blame the book and article authors. We all write what we know. However, I've wished many times that someone would write an article for emerging writers from the point of view of a disability.

So I offer this article to you.

Accessibility

In everyday life, accessibility is obvious. Either that building has an automatic door, or it doesn't. Obvious.

Developing a craft while living with disability? Not obvious.

I think of it this way. When pursuing a craft, all doors are automatic. It's only a matter of finding the right doors for you. It may take time. Take however long you need.

A Wide Variety of Disabilities

According to the World Health Organization, one billion people live with a disability of one kind or another. That's... a lot of people.

I'm hard of hearing and deaf in one ear. I live in three worlds all the time. Deaf, hard of hearing, hearing. On one hand, this allows me to have empathy toward everyone. On the other hand, I confront discrimination on a regular basis.

But you don't sound deaf.

Yeah, well, 12 years of speech therapy, and I still practice all the time by reading out loud.

Why don't you call on the phone?

I can't read lips on the phone.

But, but, you don't act disabled!

Look, I'm not going to apologize for not fitting anyone's stereotype.

Of course, I'm making all of this sound easy. It's not easy and takes daily work just to function. But you already know that. Living with disability doesn't mean less, it means living with more.

Online Mobility Aids

I never recommend using any app or software to write for you. It will be obvious that the writing does not have a human voice. However, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using any app or software as a mobility aid to enable your craft.

I'm prone to optic neuritis due to MS. It's not all the time, just every once in a while. Over-exertion is the number one cause. So whenever I'm self-editing, that's when my optic neuritis acts up.

Here are two free resources that I find useful. Both have the option of paid upgrades.

Language Tool

https://languagetool.org/

Quillbot

https://quillbot.com/grammar-check

What I like about both of them is that they look at overall language. Choosing different dialects is an option. The suggestions and comments are respectful, and leave it up to you.

Different Can Lead to Success

I've had many creatives living with disability approach me in private messages over the years. They just want to chat with someone who understands.

I had one conversation with a woman from England who's autistic. She wanted to know how I approach creative writing.

I told her a mind over matter thing that I do for myself. Over here is a big stinking pile of all the things I can't do. And it's awful. Ignore that pile. Over here is a much smaller pile of all the things I can do. Focus on that pile only.

She liked my method, but it wasn't enough. It took me a while to figure out what was bothering her so much. We kept talking and I asked a lot questions. Then she said it. She was afraid that autism meant she'd never become a writer.

Heartbreaking.

Her disability makes it hard for her to express human emotions. While I'm a big fan of emotion-driven writing, I recognize it's not for her. So here she was, thrown into a depression because every online article she found insists that you have to write from the POV of human emotions. And she can't.

So I asked her, have you ever considered writing from the POV of inanimate objects? And she got so excited! Yes, she can do that! I'm so happy for her.

There's Always Hope

I have five diagnosed disabilities and one chronic illness. I'm nowhere near Hollywood. Many of my plans fell apart after Covid hit in 2020. I've overspent money on pandemic and medical-related expenses. And you know what?

I've optioned scripts on Script Revolution. I'm doing paid screenwriting jobs on Screenwriting Staffing. The best part? I've done everything 100% online, using text only. That's my can do pile.

I'm well aware there's plenty of discrimination. I've had bad experiences online, too. Many opportunities require abilities a person with disability may not have. The people who respond well enough online are the ones who are respectful of my disabilities.

The world can suck, but there are good people out there. Be sincere. Show your craft in whichever way works for your abilities. Be you.

About The Author

Lily Blaze's picture
Real name: 

I write because I can. Screenwriting is my mobility aid to express my creativity and show my craft. I live with disability, but art has no limits.

I've lived in four cities, travelled across North America, worked as a computer graphic designer since 1997, and I've been a visual artist all my life. In 2003, I was struck by chronic illness.

Things happen. Plans change. My whole life changed. And now I'm a screenwriter.

My short To Lucasta is now a beautiful film. I've...Read more

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Comments

Marven Likness's picture

Thanks for the article Lily. Your words resonate with my own struggles. It is so great to have an outlet like writing that can free us from our limitations. I often realize that if technology was not what it is today, an outlet like this would not be accessible to people like us. Have an awesome day Lily, you deserve it.

Lily Blaze's picture

Thanks so much, Marven! I enjoy seeing your achievements as well. Yes, I'm grateful for today's technology. It enables so much of us who already deal with too many imitations. I put it all in my Can Do pile.

Elizabeth Blandford's picture

Hi Lily, good advice to anyone, whether physically or otherwise disabled. I just watched "To Lucasta" on Youtube. As you say, it is a lovely film.

Best wishes,
Elizabeth

Lily Blaze's picture

Thanks, Elizabeth! It had been nagging at me for a while and I realized, well, I guess I'm that someone who should write the article. Thank you for watching To Lucasta. Being a part of that film is a wonderful experience.

Bamutiire Jerry Edmund's picture

Thank you Lily Blaze for mirroring Helen Keller and Frank Scully! Helen Keller was deaf and blind from infancy but even so wrote several books plus as well acquired a bachelor of arts degree. Frank Scully, author of the book 'Fun in Bed,' being a cripple spent years in bed but even so he penned several books and articles for press.

Lily Blaze's picture

Hwy Bamutiire. Out of curiosity, what made you assume that I or any creative living with disability wouldn't already know all about Frank Scully and Helen Keller, as well as many others, considering the fact that The Miracle Worker is an internationally known award-winning movie?

Andrea Zastrow's picture

I enjoyed the read, Lily. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your life while also focusing on the positive. It's a good reminder for everyone to focus on what we can do instead of mourning what we cannot. I've enjoyed our private messages and your wicked sense of humor. Onward!

Lily Blaze's picture

Andrea, I can't begin to express how I love that you enjoy my sense of humor. Thanks for reading!

Bamutiire Jerry Edmund's picture

Reiterating about an inspiring life as so was of Helen Keller and Frank Scully, is like re-reading a favorite book that evokes a smile, I could gladfully make mention of the book to anyone even if they already knew it. So, that's the maths of my previous reiterative comment, dear Lily.

Lily Blaze's picture

Bamutiire, I'm glad my article made you smile similarly as reading Helen Keller and Frank Scully, but, whether you intended it or not, your comments do come across as patronizing. I'm not mirroring anyone. I'm following my own advice, and being sincere.

Bamutiire Jerry Edmund's picture

Your sincerity is all unique, Lily. Your story is definitely authentic and I appreciate it and your creative achievements. Congrats on them all.

Lily Blaze's picture

Thank you kindly, Bamutiire.

Bamutiire Jerry Edmund's picture

You're welcome, Lily.

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