Wednesday, November 19, 2014

PiBoIdMo Ain't Over Yet!

It is November 19th. There are 11 more days left in the month. And I have 26 ideas so far in my PiBoIdMo list.

I can come up with 4 more ideas this month. No problem.

I am, therefore, amending my personal PiBoIdMo goal to 40 ideas. That's 14 more ideas in the next 11 days. No problem.

Maybe I'll even go beyond that.

And when November's over? What then?

I think I'll take December to sit back and relax and enjoy the Christmas season. Maybe I'll work on that picture book project I started in October. Maybe I'll write a rough draft or two from the ideas on my list.

But there will be no pressure.

Unless I get editorial feedback. Like on that one manuscript that Corey and I sent to that one editor...

Friday, November 07, 2014

Why We Need Disability in Fiction

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper
Petey, by Ben Mikaelsen
Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry
Dangerous, by Shannon Hale
The Schwa was Here, by Neal Shusterman

All of these books have one thing in common: characters with disabilities. In some cases it is the driving force of the story. In others, the disability plays a role, but it isn't the main point. But in all of these books a specific truth surfaces: a person's disability--no matter how severe--does not diminish his or her value as a person.

In Petey and Out of My Mind, we learn that a person can lead a life with meaning despite not having the ability to walk, speak, or even control their own muscles.

In Wonder, we learn that a person's facial deformity doesn't define them, and that the suffering caused by such a disability doesn't make life less worth living.

In Gathering Blue, the main character proves that her life is valuable despite having a twisted leg that hinders her ability to walk.

In Dangerous, the heroine doesn't let her missing arm prevent her from saving the world.

And in The Schwa was Here, the main character befriends a blind girl, who doesn't let her lack of vision define who she is.

This is an important issue in the world today because people--especially kids--need to understand the humanity of those with disabilities and be able to empathize with them. But also, there seems to be a growing number of people who see the severely disabled as a drain on society, or who see their lives as so tragic as to not be worth living. Consider the amount of abortions performed because of disability and the rising acceptance of euthenasia and assisted suicide. Do these statistics reflect the value we place on life? Do they show that a person is worth more than his or her disability?

Sadly, I believe the answer is no. We live in a world where a parent, judge, caretaker or doctor can legally decide when someone's life is no longer worth living. We live in a world where "compassion" is displayed in the form of ending someone's life, whether before birth or after. But do we really want to head down a road that will lead us to a place like the community in The Giver, where the weak, unwanted, and elderly are humanely "released" from society?

The books I've listed here, and others like them, have a powerful message for their readers. Every person has a place in this world. Every life, no matter how painful or difficult, can be a full life that has a profound impact on the world around it. The severely disabled baby that lives for only a few hours after birth. The brain-damaged boy who never learns to walk or speak. The young woman with Down's Syndrome who smiles at everyone she meets. They are why we need books about people with disabilities, to show our children that all life is valuable and beautiful and worthy of protection.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Moosey Monday: A MOOSE acrostic

Meandering across the meadow, this
Oversized mammal,
Oblivious to the camera,
Steps, stops, looks,
Eats. Repeats.

This poem was inspired by this video of a moose in the wild.