Wednesday, April 16, 2008

THE REAL INSPIRATION

What I did on Monday and Tuesday...PAC RIM CONFERENCE ON DISABILITIES
My buddy from the UK...

People from all over the world came together in Honolulu to talk about independent living, self determination, ADA, disability and human rights among many other things.

Often reviewers or interviewers will assume that LOTTERY was exclusively inspired by my father's financial windfall. They are so wrong. My experience as the daughter of a Lottery winner contributed about as much as my sailing experience and love of the water. They both added authenticity and texture to the real story. The one about Perry L. Crandall.
The real inspiration came from my years as a teacher, my brother in law Jeri, my PhD work and my involvement with the Center on Disability Studies.
Authors sometimes feel misunderstood. They sometimes feel people jump to conclusions about why they create a particular work of literature. Although I have written other manuscripts -- LOTTERY is my first published novel and yet it is indicative of my goal in writing: To give voice to those who are marginalized by our society.
Being at the conference gave me hope and reaffirmed my belief that literature is important and necessary for our souls to grow.
I gave a talk about telling the truth through fiction -- not a new concept -- it is a powerful way to develop empathy and to change attitudes about what we consider "normal" and capable.
I am still processing everything that I learned from the people I met.
So writers?
Consider peopling your story with those of all abilities.
And readers?
When a novel touches you & takes you to that special place -- let the author know their words have done their job...

26 comments:

Kim Stagliano said...

Amen. Thank you. On behalf of my kids.

Lisa R said...

Well said!!!!!

ORION said...

Kim you would have enjoyed it so much - besides being in Honolulu and warm!! Parents were there advocating along with teachers and academics... it was such fun to sit at my table while I wasn't presenting and have everybody come by to chat...

a cat of impossible colour said...

Congratulations on making the Orange Prize shortlist!

Just wanted to drop by your blog and tell you how much I loved (and still love) reading Lottery. I received an advance copy when I was working as a reviewer here in Christchurch, NZ, and it was an absolute pleasure to read. It has joined the ranks of my favourites and has been passed around the readers in my family, who loved it too. It's one of those books that stays in your head long after you have read it.

With Lottery you have clearly achieved your goals of giving a voice to marginalised people. Sorry, this comment ended up being much longer than I planned :) So thank you, and congratulations again.

Andrea

Heidi said...

I loved Lottery. My mom was a special ed teacher for almost 30 years, so it felt very close to home.

I actually never saw the book as a book about someone winning the lottery. It really was about Perry. He was so vividly drawn that I felt like I was plopped down in the middle of his life, which happened to be the moment he won the lottery. The event drove the story, to be sure, but it almost could have been any event.

I almost closed the book when the brothers came at him like vultures... it made me a little sick to my stomach, because I've seen family treat their own like that, but I'd heard it ended happily so I pressed on. I'm so glad I did! A really, truly feel good story. IQ points are everything for sure.

Thanks for your story. Thanks for your work. Thanks for your voice.

ORION said...

You guys double ROCK!

Anonymous said...

Aloha Pat, I was in your workshop on Tues at PacRim. Writing has always fascinated me and the tools that you have shared will be put to good use. Thanks again for doing the workshop. Congrats on Lottery!
leona

Kimber An said...

Amen, Pat.
;)

ChristineEldin said...

Pat, I'm so glad you talk about this from time to time on your blog. You truly inspire me with your work helping people who have disabilities.
In children's literature, there's a great book called "Al Capone Does My Shirts" that features a boy who has an older autistic sister. Set in the 1940s, there was a lot of misunderstanding.

One book I've started writing (but put aside for now) has a character with dyslexia. I think my sister is a misdiagnosed dyslexic, hence the reason she couldn't complete high school.

mlh said...

My two nephews are autistic. The oldest wasn't properly diagnosed at an early age because my brother and his wife simply didn't have the knowledge that such a condition existed, so they never saw the signs of it.

When authors go out of their way to include such characters with disabilities in their writing, it is truly awe-inspiring.

Mary said...

A wonderful post!!!
I loved Lottery.
And I second Christine Eldin’s praise for Al Capone Does My Shirts.

writtenwyrdd said...

Very thoughtful post, Pat. The thing that lingers in my mind about Lottery is the underlying attitude that floods the book with light: Different ways of being do not mean bad; slower or different cognitive abilities don't mean stupid; and etc.

It wasn't my usual kind of read, but the characterizations were so well drawn that only a person totally lacking in empathy could fail to come away without a sense of respect for Perry and everyone else in the book (except Perry's family, lol).

Heidi said...

I most certainly meant IQ points are NOT everything!

I'm not sure I could have made a bigger mistake!

ORION said...

That's okay heidi my brain read it correctly LOL...
I think it's not only important to include those of all abilities but to not necessarily label them. I tried not to do that with Perry- some people think he had everything from autism to Down syndrome but I refused to tell the reader this. We work so hard at categorizing people...we need to just celebrate who they are not what they have...

Gay said...

Pat--

I'm surprised that anyone could read LOTTERY and not get the deeper meaning, and how you'd have had no book if it weren't for Perry's challenges in life--that you were showing us that intelligence isn't measured in numbers. You could have used any number of other situations without changing the real story.

Sounds like a great conference.

So, what part of your heart is your next book coming from?

--Gay

ORION said...

The beating part LOL!

Kim Stagliano said...

On Wednesday night I found a character to add to my book. Or my next book. Boy, he touched me. I took Miss G to a carnival. We rode the Scrambler. A man who clearly had developmental delays boarded the car in front of us. He wore two hearing aids. As soon as the ride started he began whooping and rocking back and forth. You could feel his joy. When we got off the ride I said to the operator, "Boy, he had a good time. Isn't that cool?" And the clean cut young ride operator (at a traveling carnival no less) said to me, "He's here every year. He'll ride in that car all night." I nodded. Smiled. Took my daughter's hand and saw that the world was good and safe and kind for Mr. Scrambler man for the next few hours at least.

I think I have to write about him now. Darnit, what IS the liquid on my glasses?

ORION said...

The same stuff that's on my cheeks.

At the conference I met so many people of all abilities that cared about how the world treats others and I was heartened.

Holly Kennedy said...

Well put, Patricia.
Sounds like a great event.
Wish I could've gone!!

Chumplet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookman Beattie said...

Patricia, warmest congratulations on LOTTERY and on being shortlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize. I have reviewed your book on my book blog -
www.beattiesbookblog.blogpsot.com/

ORION said...

What a great review.
The link on the comment above somehow doesn't work.
Here's one that does:

http://www.beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/

ORION said...

http://beattiesbookblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/lottery-patricia-wood-william-heinemann.html#links

ORION said...

I get it- the original link had blogpsot instead of blogspot...

Demon Hunter said...

You are soooo full of awesomeness, Pat! ;*)

kezabel said...

Dear Pat I am currently celebrating my first attempt at reading and responding to blogging! Thank you so much for your Tuesday workshop at the pac rim conference. Your words have stayed with me since...and stayed with me and stayed with me. They have meant when my partner encourages me to write I have run out of arguments! I guess that if the words are on paper, or on the screen, then I haven't failed at all no matter what happens next!
Since that day I'm back at work in Australia, sharing your book with my disAbility education team at Family Planning and my book club. I've bought each of them a copy of Lottery already! Good luck with the Orange Prize-I'll keep watch.
thank you - what a gem! Kerry
I imagine my blogging message is too long!