I actually wasn’t going to write this piece because… I didn’t want to share what I’m about to say. And I didn’t want to sound whiney about the entirely-foreseeable consequences of a decision I voluntarily made. But the whole point of this newsletter is to provide you with an honest account of my life as a disabled woman and journalist, and at the moment this is what’s going on for me. So, here’s what’s up.
I’ve spent the past six weeks writing a chapter in my book about disabled motherhood. I’m not going to go into the contents here because there’s several thousand words worth of stuff to say and, also, because then you wouldn’t buy the book, would you? (How’s that for a tease?)
What I will say is it is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my professional life, and probably up there as one of the toughest periods personally, too. Every time I open the document to continue typing, I feel my heart sink. I’ve spent the past few weeks in a daze, trying to hang on to my good mental health while confronting stuff that makes me feel like I’m spinning out of control. I expected it to be tough - there’s a reason I left it until almost the last - but this is a level of emotional challenge that makes me wistful for the chapter about dating. Which is saying something.
A few friends have, entirely reasonably, suggested that I just don’t write the chapter. Even my editor has reiterated several times that it would be fine to just leave it out. And, if I’m honest, there’s been a few times in the past few weeks where I have been tempted to bin the whole thing off and pretend I’d never even started writing it.
But every time I pick up the phone to tell my editor that I don’t want to write it, something stops me. Sure, there’s undoubtedly a level of stubbornness involved. I said I would so I will. I’ve started so I’ll finish. Never underestimate boneheadedness as a motivating factor. But it’s not just that.
The fact is that I know writing this chapter about disabled motherhood is hard because no one ever talks about disabled motherhood. If talking about disabled dating is putting your head above the parapet, this is walking down the street, naked. And the only way that’s ever going to change, the only way to find some clothes and wrap yourself in them, is for someone to start talking about it. And as they say, there’s no time like the present. I’m lucky enough to have a brilliant editor who won’t warp my words and even more brilliant friends who will listen while I cry and laugh and try to work out what it is I’m writing and feeling. It’s scary, but I also feel incredibly privileged to have the opportunity and platform to really talk about this stuff. Sometimes you have to take one for the team, you know?
Because I want this conversation to happen. I need it to. And so do many, many other people.
So I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep the chapter in the book. I’m going to keep talking about it to anyone who’ll listen. And one day, I know I’ll be so glad I did.
One sentence at a time. And a lot of chocolate along the way.
I hope you’ll read it when it’s ready.
See you soon,
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This makes me think about how often BIPoC authors will talk about the stuff they have been compelled to write versus the stuff they would like to write. I don't know if it will help, but I often imagine the younger person in just ten years might get to tell the stories they want to tell, instead of having to be The First to tell a story that has been actively kept from being told.