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Have I ever been happier?

I did it! I finished NaNoWriMo. My novel isn’t complete; however I have reached the 50000 word target. Considering my total word count was 13000 words on the 26th I feel this is a massive personal achievement. I still have plenty to write but this is the furthest I’ve ever gone with any of my writing before. The feeling is totally incredible!

I haven’t quite got round to what I’m going to do once the novel is complete. I have a few options. The first step is certainly going to be stringent editing, currently it’s full of all kinds of spelling mistakes and I’m sure I’ll find whole chapters I want to change. After that…I really don’t know. I’d like to get a couple of people to read it and tell me their thoughts, if they think it’s any good I might consider going further with it, if not, I suppose I start work on something else. If any of you would like to volunteer to read it and write me a review, pointing out my successes and failures I’d really appreciate it.

I’m planning to have it completed and edited by Christmas, so if you get in contact with me by then I can email you a copy. I only want a few people to read it as it’s obviously not something I want spread around (assuming you think it’s worthy of that).

Oh…it’s also really not going to be everyone’s kind of book and I totally understand if you feel that way :)

Synopsis:

Just before her 18th birthday Adina leaves her home and the years of abuse she has suffered. Intending to create a new life for herself she is plagued by the secrets she is carrying and guilt for the death of her brother. With the help of a lawyer who has become so much more than a friend to her she tries to confront her past, but is the promise of success and possibly the happiness she has always dreamed of enough to free her?

What would you ask?

I feel like I’ve neglected writing this month. That includes my novel for Nano, which although it has been started and is working out fine really isn’t at the point it should be. I’m not going to get the 50000 words I need, unless I can somehow magic about 25000 words out of nowhere in the next 4 days. I have been really busy, we finished shoot get treasure repeat which went really well. I also went to my first yt forum where we talked about what each group wants to watch next term and how we can now get York youth theatre hoodies, I’m definitely going to get one! I’m also really looking forward to the regional youth theatre festival in February where we’re performing a short piece, not to mention hosting it :)

School is going ok, apart from one of my classes which has been a nightmare. I don’t think people realise sometimes that producing Braille takes time. It’s a difficult situation because there’s not an awful lot we can do. There’s only a certain amount of times you can say “we need that in advance” and if it doesn’t happen your options have been cut off. The school are dealing with the problem really well and doing their best to sort things out. My view is if a teacher can’t adjust to having students with additional needs in their classes then they’re pretty stuck in today’s society as that’s the way things work in schools now. I’m not saying they don’t mean well and that they’re deliberately making my life difficult, but I think the whole education system needs to wake up and realise that we’re not going to be shut away anymore. Yes students with disabilities are going to mainstream schools and yes, we want, and have a right to an equal education.

We’re learning about driving safety on Monday, isn’t that going to be fun. I’m trying to get out of it and go to this politics question time thing we’re having with local MP’s. I should be going as I do politics. I’m going to ask them how they feel they’re supporting young people with disabilities and their families and how the cuts are affecting this. Not very well would be my response but I doubt they’ll agree. I expect they’ll try and avoid the question “we care very much about young people, especially those who are vulnerable”, “I understand.” Firstly, caring is great but actually do something, and secondly no you don’t understand, have you been in my position, didn’t think so. I’m going to have a great time, maybe it’s wrong that I want to make them feel uncomfortable, but at the end of the day I’m able to tell them what young people with disabilities want and need. I have the chance to speak out about this and I should because other people aren’t so lucky and don’t have that opportunity. If I can do something to make the lives of other people like myself a bit easier then that’s a good thing.

If you had the chance what would you ask them?

Yesterday I read an article about how some children are being refused places at schools purely because of their disability, even when the school in question is viewed as the best one for them. I don’t understand how anyone could do that to a child, I can understand when a school literally has no way of providing for a child but to refuse when it’s the ideal one for them, it seems so wrong. But then I started to think about what schools get out of having children with disabilities attending them, unfortunately my list wasn’t overly promising.

• The “we are a lovely caring place” factor, caused by being seen as hugely charitable for giving a child with a disability an education. Maybe I’m being cynical, but I speak from experience when I say people don’t expect someone with a disability, even something like mine, to attend a “normal” school. When I was in primary school I was in a class assembly, or play, something like that. My mum came to watch me and another parent turned round to her and said “she’s very lucky to be at a normal school.” Was I lucky; was it a privilege for me to have an equal education? I wonder if that woman would have felt differently if it was her child with the disability, would she have thought me lucky then. It bothers me that there are people in society that assume children with disabilities won’t, or shouldn’t, attend mainstream school. Why not if it works for them, I thought we were meant to be progressive. Does this make any school that takes me suddenly better and nicer than others? It really shouldn’t, but I get the feeling people think it does.
• Money. I really don’t think this can be considered a reason why schools take people like me. Yes, they get a certain amount of money per student, and probably extra for kids that are statemented, but it probably doesn’t cover what they have to spend. It all depends on the needs of the particular child. Do they need a teaching assistant, assistive technology, staff that are specifically trained to perform certain tasks, medical assistance? And of course who is paying for it, does it fall to the LEA or the school. I think in some situations schools will “make” money, but in most they don’t. This makes me think that maybe it’s a reason for schools to refuse kids a place.
• Diversity. Apparently in today’s society we love being fair to everyone, we enjoy making people of different ethnicities, social classes and of course those with disabilities equal. Is this why some schools take us, or are they expected to? Who knows, I think it really depends on the school. I genuinely believe some schools care about such things, but equally others are pressured into taking certain children.

Why then have I been so and I quote “lucky”. Have I really been lucky? It makes me sad to think that I might have been especially when you consider the fact that my experiences at school haven’t always been wonderful, what must it be like for the kids that lose out completely? For students with disabilities, like everyone else, it’s a bit of a postcode lottery, except it’s more of an LEA lottery. Do you have a local council that likes inclusion? Do they like it too much and are therefore unwilling to put any kids in specialist education. That’s the other side of it; you have to ensure that kids that need access to special schools get it too. If you have an LEA like mine, that wanted me to go to mainstream but understood when it wasn’t appropriate, and then when I was ready for mainstream school made arrangements so I would be provided for, it’s great. But if you don’t you can get left behind in the education system with nowhere to go.

If I had to choose one of the reasons why my school takes students with disabilities I would say that it is because they want us to be included. I don’t think they have economic motives, or even that they want to look like a nice place because they pitied us enough to give us an education. If that was the case I doubt they’d have bothered doing half the things they have to make my experience there a good one. That’s not to say they can’t do more, I wasn’t at the school when I was younger so I don’t know what access to sport is like for kids with disabilities. Are they encouraged, or just put in the bottom group because it’s easier? What about art and textiles, would I have even been allowed to study them? These are all questions I want answering, and I’m not just talking about my school here because I suspect they would have put effort in at least to try and give me the same opportunities as everyone else. We’ve had assemblies on difference, why students with disabilities should be treated the same as other people. My teachers ask me questions, they try to understand, and the school do what they can to help me. They encourage students with disabilities to work hard and get a good education, if my school will do it, why don’t others? Why are people allowing schools to just not bother with students who could do really well given the right support? Is it because of lack of education? Do teachers themselves actually know anything about disabilities? What training are they given, or do they just have a quick meeting when a child starts the school.

And what can I do? Can I change the views of society, how they treat people like me? I’m old enough to fight for myself, but there are really young children and their parents who aren’t used to the system. Yes, they get support, but usually from the local council, and especially with the economic climate you can’t say that they’re going to be neutral, after all they’re more often than not the ones paying for the Childs schooling. I can’t exactly force schools to give teachers training on disabilities, even a school like mine that is really open to discussing things like that. Is it my place to want to get involved? I can’t help thinking it is, because who else is going to speak out?

Less than a day to go!

Nanowrimo starts tomorrow! I’m really excited for it this year because I feel so much more ready for it than I have previously. I have my novel outline written as well as some basic character details. I’m not planning it meticulously because I think if I do it will limit how creative I am with it. I’m glad I don’t know every detail of the plot or all the characters that will appear because it means I’m discovering something this month, not just copying up ideas I already have.

As far as having somewhere to write things are looking a little difficult. During the day the school library is going to be my best bet, especially if I can plug my laptop in. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I don’t think I’ll spend much time at lunch in the common room because it’s too loud to write and it seems like I’m wasting time I could be spending on the novel. The only disadvantage with the library is we can’t take food or drink in there.

I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to share extracts with anyone. Abbie has seen bits of my planning because she’s doing it too and is sharing hers with me. Other than her I don’t really want everyone reading it until it’s finished. I have no idea if it’s going to be good or even make sense but if it means I’m writing it can’t really be a bad thing.

The future

I guess the next half term is going to be pretty busy. I have 3 exams in January and I have to start revising for them. I also have panto at school as well as charity week and the show I am in at the theatre royal with youth theatre. Right now I’m spending half term reading as many books as I can. Maybe I could do something more than that but when school is on the only way I get to read is by staying up really late which I now hate doing. So far I’ve managed to finish 3 books but I have a lot more to go before the holiday is over.

I’ve been applying for internships in the US for when I leave school. I think financially studying there would be so difficult, the only way I could pay for it is if I had a job while I was there, and I can’t guarantee I would get one. It would be bad to go then after a year not have a job and be unable to continue. If I can get an internship I would at least be living there, and it would give me a chance to earn money, I would get another job if I needed to and hopefully after that I would be in a better position to consider studying there. I’ve written to a number of schools there, they’re all ones for the blind, but a lot of them are schools for the blind and deaf that have merged to make one school. The head of one in New Mexico wrote back to me saying they do take interns and she would look into the possibility of having me. I’ve never been to New Mexico before. I thought I would end up in somewhere like New York or California. New Mexico seems so different, far removed from my life and the things I am used to. But I’m starting to think that maybe it would be good for me.

My plans have changed so much over the last few months. I started with a vague plan of studying in the US but with no idea where or even what subject and now somehow I am here. I’m glad I’ve had so much time to think and consider what would be best for me, I feel like things are starting to fall into place and will maybe work out right.

I’ve decided I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I’ve started it a couple of times but never finished it. I never really got a proper idea together and thought about it in advance, I just tried to go along with it during November. This year I actually know what I’m writing, I feel like I know the characters and the story. So I’m writing for real this time and it feels a little weird. Apart from a couple of pieces of short prose I have hardly written anything during the last year. I hope this works out, if it does I should have 50000 words by the end of November.

The harder days

At the moment I feel like I’m taking each day in tiny pieces, I can never guarantee how it’s going to be and I’ve stopped expecting it to be ok. I don’t mean I think it’s going to be bad, I just don’t know anymore. Today was one of those really bad days where too many things happen to you and you can’t really deal with it. On their own they were all small, but built up it felt so shitty and like I was constantly being targeted.

Firstly, something which I’m very used to and didn’t really bother me until the end of the day when I felt horrible.

“She’s blind.”
“I know.”
“But yeah she can’t see.”
“Well that’s obvious.”

Words like “obvious” are like wounds, they open up and bit by bit if they’re not looked at they get deeper. I don’t want to be obvious, I don’t want people to notice me because I’m a freak, because I’m not like other people. I want to be noticed for good things, or for no one to see me at all. I hate how it’s ok for people to walk behind me and loudly discuss me, lay me out and criticise every part of me. If I talked about their family, the way they dress, if they’re fat it would fuck them off. Why shouldn’t the same rules apply for me? People think its ok to talk about me and they act like I don’t care. I don’t mind questions, people are curious and I’m happy to explain things to them. Today I was asked why I’m blind and I explained as much as I could. I don’t mind things like that, it wasn’t meant in a bad way.

The second thing was something a girl said about me. Apparently someone asked one of the guys I teach Braille to what his pdp was, or he ended up talking about it for some reason. When he said it was with me the girl said wasn’t I meant to be really horrible. I’m glad he told me, it hurt so fucking much but at least I know. I just don’t understand I don’t even know who the girl is or why she’d think I’m a bad person. I try to be good, I care about people and I don’t go out of my way to hurt them. It bothers me that people think badly of me. It makes me more nervous that she was a year 12, someone who will be in my year next September. Yes, it’s a long time away, but at the moment I have my friends in year 13 and I fit in, I’m happy. I don’t feel like I fit in with year 12, I find it difficult, I don’t have the energy to constantly push back the comments people make, the things they think about me. I stuck out the transition to Huntington school last year and I made a good job of it, I feel normal in my year. I don’t want that to change when they leave and I’m on my own.

The last thing happened in my mobility lesson after school. Some guys walked past me as I was outside, they were messing about and laughing but that didn’t bother me. One then said “watch out” and started laughing at me. I don’t understand some people, why do they do that stuff, do they think it’s funny, that I’m not a human, that I don’t have the same feelings as them. Sometimes I don’t want to be an adult, to live with this always so glaringly obvious, but I have no choice. Its days like today that make me question the world around me. Why do people say things that they know will dig deep, things that other people say I should brush off but I can’t? There are some days when you can’t get on and live with it; you want to be anyone but yourself because surely it wouldn’t be this bad.

Today was that day, but at least it’s nearly over.

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