My Niche: Differently Abled Characters

Back when I first started writing I knew two things: I wanted to write romantic stories and I wanted to have characters with a hearing loss. At the time I felt supporting characters were best, but have since changed my mind and put those characters front and center.

I’ve written a total of three stories where one or two main characters have a hearing loss. I love it. The action puts a huge part of myself onto the page. And I know I add authenticity to the characters when writing about something I experience firsthand.

And then the characters began to grow, and I ended up with dual disabilities. I researched the second, wanting to give it the same realism as the hearing loss.

And in a moment of clarity I realized something: I want to write differently abled characters. Not just hearing loss, though I still have plans to have at least one in each novel. People with disabilities are strong, powerful, intriguing people. We come from all walks of life. We are misunderstood, picked on, teased, under appreciated. And I want these characters to be my main characters.

My mother-in-law will probably tell me: I told you. Back when I was still in college, earning my degree in Deaf Studies, she told me I should work on being an advocate for all disabilities. At the time I couldn’t wrap my head around this, as I saw the unique differences between each disability and didn’t know how I could champion all of them.

I know now. This means each character will take extra research, and nail biting, to get right. It will be worth it. I’m already researching something brand new to me, excited to look into a different world and let it breathe on a page.

I’ll have an added challenge here, as I write romance. I’ll need to make each disability attractive. Fortunately, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And I experience this first hand. I’ve struggled with my hard of hearing characters. Even though I have a husband who tells me how beautiful and desirable I am, I still feel like that awkward teenager who couldn’t get a date due to her ears. As I write a character who wears hearing aids, a subconscious undesirability bleeds through onto the page. I have to force myself to overlook this personal character weakness. It’s been an experience, trust me.

This is my niche. I’m excited. I feel as though I’ve found my calling, my purpose. I can’t wait to see where my research leads me. The only question left: will there be an audience?

Well, what do you think?

New Writing Programs, Auto Save, and Tears

I’ve been writing with an ancient writing program. Ancient as in 2000. It never felt ancient, but the more I used it for my work, the more I realized it was outdated.

For starters, I couldn’t read .docx files. In an ironic twist, I could on my phone, but I couldn’t manipulate it the way I needed to. I downloaded a conversion. Problem solved! Or…not. While my conversion worked, it was very, very finicky. Simply put: it likes to eat pages. Send me a 300 page manuscript? I may get 30 pages. And if I edit in the .docx file the pages mysteriously grew smaller.

I thought I was going insane. Especially when the document went from 83 pages, to 38 pages. Figured my slight case of dyslexia had kicked in. Then it went down again and I knew I wasn’t crazy!

Tired of asking my writer friends to convert to .doc, and realizing I would need the newer features available eventually, I decided to take the plunge.

And while I was hemming and hawing, afraid to install the new version, I ran into a horror situation every writer fears/experiences. I had finished editing a chapter in one of my novels, complete with backtracking to strengthen some plot points. In this backtracking I also wrote a kickass paragraph where my character’s voice was rich, strong and sure.

Hours later I went to open the same document. A message popped up: Would you like to revert to the saved version? Since I always, always, always save, I clicked “yes.”

I’m pausing here to cry all over again.

I knew as soon as my finger lifted I made the wrong choice. I spent the next hour scrambling, trying to find the version that had been so beautiful. Nothing. It was gone. I had never clicked save, my old writing program had never auto saved.

It was time. I installed the updated program. The past fifteen years of comfort now gone, I’m in a brand new environment. And even though it’s still a learning curve, I like it.

Especially when I see “auto saving” at the bottom of the screen.

Down Time for a Writer

As a working mother, free time is a bit of fable. We know it exists, but where? How? Who? And does it involve bathroom breaks? What little free time I can scrounge up, I tend to spend at my laptop writing, or buried in a book.

This past weekend was my birthday. I ended up with my family home, willing to do whatever I wanted to do. Great! But then the guilt starts, because what I wanted to do was simple:

1)      Write
2)      Read
3)      Repeat above as often as possible

All I could think: how sad? Family time is rare these days. I should want to go out and do something with them. I had a gift card to spend at a store. But lounging in my pajamas, with my laptop, trumped.

So, I wrote. I had some notes from a CP (critique partner). I addressed them. With a clear head I made a little magic. I worked on my WIP (work in process).

Then I read. And read. And read. To be fair I did so while curled up with my family. I wasn’t completely ignoring them.

This is a problem I often run into. Time is fleeting. I love writing. I love reading. Even when I have ample time to do both, I want to do more. I’ve set up weekly date nights with my husband. Not for him, for me. So I have a set night where I force myself away from words and do something as a couple.

I often wonder if things would be different if writing was my full-time job. I suppose on one level it would be, as I could put in a solid set of hours while the rest of the family was off at work or school. On the other hand, I may still always want to do more. And on the final hand (those extra hands come in very handy, pun intended), very few authors ever get the chance to support themselves with their words. So all this is merely a dream.

Like this post. I have my WIP to get back to, and a book I’m itching to do more reading in. Family has just left and my husband is watching TV. I’ve got about a half hour before my brain shuts off for the night.

I want to write. I want to read. And there’s this guy watching TV that I kinda like. Yet I’m here, working on this blog. Enjoying writing it, but with so many other projects/commitments in the back of my head I feel torn. Tired.

And I really want to read…