If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout this journey of trying to write “The Story,” of wanting to write it or of otherwise aiming my life’s sights at that lofty goal of writing fiction that is worthy of the characters, John and Trishna, that have been in my head for nearly 20 years, it’s that you can write anywhere. Writing seems to be the mechanical act of transferring thoughts, but it’s actually thinking of what to write.
Spoilers?: Minor [massaging fiction/essay ideas]
Today’s main objective was going to the chiropractor to get assistance with my physicality so I can return to work and life. When I went, I told him that the previous appointment was too rough, and that I made regress instead of progress in my recovery. Instead of increased mobility and decreased pain, I had decreased mobility and increased pain. He adjusted his treatment and it went well. Throughout this healthcare journey, I’ve learned much about Trishna’s disability. She is physically disabled in a way that’s different than me, but just like how writing essays can help you write fiction, or reading nonfiction can help you write fiction, my real-life experiences can help me understand her fictional experiences.
I also read more of Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas today.
This Zdiscord’s current book club entry. I’m 33% done with it now, and there was a character, Eugênia, who as a hopefully-temporary disabled person I am not a fan of at all. The way that this character is represented in something that speaks to the sort of “tragedies of disability” that plague us to this day, where disability is seen as a death sentence – and perhaps that was true in primitive societies where everyone had to provide something to help the community, but, we are now living in an age of abundance. Disabled people like myself can still contribute, if given the ability and opportunities to contribute. Characters like Eugênia should not persist in literature, who are beautiful and wonderful except for something that makes them repulsive.
Would I have had this same perspective were I not to have been disabled?
When Trishna then John shyly revealed their disabilities to me, I did not shy away and I did not repulse, but rather spent the next few years learning what I could about the disability experience. I admit I haven’t studied “enough” or done “enough,” but as I think regarding most things in life, the public perspective toward disability is so negatively skewed that even having a surface-level understanding and empathy – to not use slurs, to show respect, and to offer help but not push it, as three examples – puts you miles ahead of the norm.
There’s a weird, complicated relationship with disability.
For me, when I think of John and Trishna, I don’t think of their disabilities. They’re people first, and foremost, and they’re not worse of people because of their disabilities as so many people might imply or write. That said, when I have experiences that might remind me of them, it helps me build up their characters in ways that make sense to me. If I have spine pain that is relieved by massaging the inflammation out of my muscles, then it’s possible that Trishna could have the same need and relief. If so, John would be more than happy to do daily, light massages to help her feel better. It’s romantic and it’s also part of the sort of relationship that they have.
I like how romantic Brás Cubas is, and at times, there are some clever ideas.
Overall, I haven’t yet got much from it, and might not get much more from it, but I find it’s important to expose yourself to challenging ideas. Reading the segments where Eugênia is featured gave me cringing sensations, but, that’s a sense of discomfort that I can stamp out for others like me – or even those who can provide basic empathy toward people with disabilities that might not be able to express themselves like I can. Before I became disabled, I used the term impaired more, out of respect, like physically-impaired or visually-impaired. I think that is still a fair term, and without having read or spoken to many other people like me, I don’t know what term feels the best for the most people.
I’ve been on disability leave, so I am disabled.
When I return to work from my disability leave, will I still be disabled? Legally and officially, no, but in actuality, I may never return to my pre-disability status. I’m fine with that. I accept this. If there are characters that judge me like Eugênia was judged, then, I accept this and move on from this – those people aren’t worth my time. I believe that John and Trishna may, too, feel this same way. Trishna’s upbringing allowed her much more of an academic understanding of disabilities, both from medical consultation and perhaps her own studies – maybe she even read through books with characters like Eugênia that were only maligned because of their disabilities?
The trick, then, is to gently massage out that inflammation.
Within literature, there might be a ratio of 9 Eugênias for every 1 Trishna or John, and maybe the reason why Trishna and John popped into my mind during my final year of high school was so that they could help even out the score? I don’t know. They haven’t been very far since. During my 20s, they didn’t hang around a whole lot compared to now, but they’d appear frequently enough through any other brainstorming idea that it makes sense to me that they’d want to eventually get written in such a way as to propagate a new sort of literature. Maybe ones where disabled people are shown as admirable, sexy, and where their disabilities aren’t this sort of plot point that makes them all, generally, into victims of circumstance.
What if disabled characters weren’t problematic characters in literature?
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Just writing about my day and some thoughts.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2021 May 10 [11:13 to 11:43pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 May 10 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|