“Nothing that I can do or say will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my own voice, I can help the greatest of all causes—good will among men and peace on earth.”
– Albert Einstein
Just the other day, I got a newsletter from NaNoWriMo, which is a nonprofit organization that provides resources and empowerment for writers across the world. I was surprised to see there was a section in the letter dedicated to Disability. It said July is Disability Pride month. I didn’t know that. There were quite a few resources included in that section that linked to news websites and blogs dedicated to disabilities.
It made me smile. I felt a sense of connection and pride that I haven’t had in a while. July has been a rough month for me. I’ve been putting in some extra hours at work, then I ended up spending extra time in the gym in an ongoing war against my obesity. I barely have time to read, let alone write! Which, in hindsight, I realize are the same challenges many successful writers have encountered and they’ve found a way. I’m still finding my way and that is okay.
Everything I write about on this blog is something new to me. Things I was never taught in school but wished I was. I form and share many of my own ideas as well. About a month ago I was preparing a blog post on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Doctor Strange. I was confident about my ideas and my words, but I decided at the last minute to rewatch the film to make sure I had written with as much accuracy as possible. I was glad I did because everything I had written was wrong. From the ground up, my ideas, the whole tone of my writing, was wrong.
Obviously, I was not able to publish the post I had prepared. I began to doubt myself and my ideas. If I was wrong about this post, how many others might be wrong? To be so wrong about something I’m passionate about, well, it put me in a dark place. Rather than revising my words, I stopped writing. Which is why I haven’t posted in a while. For that I am sorry.
Recently, a couple of things have happened that reminded me about the power and importance of voice.
Voice, put simply, is the ability to express perspective. Voice is something that can move mountains, bring awareness to issues, and challenge traditional thought. I have countless examples of voices that have taught me to see things differently. For example, I am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez had a moment where the main character noted all the dolls for her quinceañera were white because that was the only kind sold at the store. Every since I read that, I notice skin color on dolls—or rather, the absence of it. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (which happens to be one of my favorite reads of 2021) showed me institutional racism from a different perspective and how deep it runs through time. These authors shared their voice and experiences, which changed the way I see and think about things.
I lost confidence in my voice for a while. A few days ago, I got an email from a journal about a nonfiction story I submitted several months earlier. I had almost forgotten about it. They wanted to publish it.
I was shocked, especially considering this journal had released a statement a couple of months earlier that the next issue would be delayed due to sheer the volume of submissions they received. It is a special edition issue showcasing only writers with disabilities and was scheduled to be released early in July for Disability Pride Month. Of the many submissions, my voice was one of the ones picked to represent the disabled community.
This, of course, is an incredible honor. It will also be my first publication outside of Listen Up. I am humbled that my story is one that inspires something in others and shares a new perspective. This whole experience has reminded me of the power of voice and the power of writing. It is meant to inspire, empower, and share experiences that would otherwise remain silenced.
There will always be more to learn about writing and disability studies. Sometimes I will be wrong, but even being wrong paves the way to greater understanding. As for my voice, I plan to continue working on this blog and my other writings for many more years to come.
Thank you all for supporting this journey.