I've been writing a piece about a woman in a wheelchair over the last week or so. Basically, we're doing a creative writing anthology in the class I go to. The tutor wrote an opening to a story, the premise of which is that this woman owns a haunted mansion and offers £1 Million to anyone who can last an entire night in there. We're all writing our own versions of what happens next.
And as soon as I heard about that idea my first thought was "that sort of place probably wouldn't have wheelchair access" I took that idea and ran with it for my part. Writing it gave me fits but it's pretty much finished now, just needs a decent edit and I might write a bit more of an ending. I gave it the title of "Unreasonable Adjustments" which, as I mentioned before, I absolutely love. I might stick it online when it's done or I might not. Depends what I decide to do with it really.
Anyway at the class on Thursday we each got a couple of people's opinions on our piece. Three people read mine and I got some useful feedback. Although strangely I've since reread it and picked up on a major mistake which none of them pointed out. I did get comments about how it helped them to get into the head of a wheelchair user and see what it was like. I also got told by one guy that he loved my humour and sarcasm and that it was "very Bridget Jones"
I didn't write it to help people see what wheelchair users experience or anything like that. And I never set out to be funny, I rarely do deliberate humour in my writing.
I wrote about
Needing to ask pointed questions about whether you can get your wheelchair in the disabled loo and does it have grab rails - because I have found ones before where you can't. Or where you can but you can't shut the door. Been there, done that. And later on in the story Claire my main character discovers things aren't as they were described. Been there, done that as well. Unfortunately.
About disabled loos being kept locked and staff not knowing where the key is. I haven't had that one but I carry my radar key on my house keys and I have been asked in places to open it for them because they've lost theirs.
Looking for the loo before you're desperate because it takes time to find it and all the other stress that can go with it. Been there, done that.
Staff not knowing that they have a disabled loo despite others saying they do have one when you ask in advance. Been there, done that. In fact at one of my schools a staff member once asked me where the disabled loo was because she had a visitor in a wheelchair and didn't know. What gets me about that was it was they knew in advance some of the people coming were in wheelchairs.
Wheelchair access being around the back, by the bins or otherwise out of sight. Been there, done that. Too many times to count!!
And about finding people having sex in disabled loos. I just noticed that one of the people who did a crit for me has written "good humour, one hopes it isn't based on personal experience" by that bit. And you guessed it, been there, done that. Once. And hopefully never, ever again. Although I didn't actually see anything thankfully...
Yes, a big plot point does revolve around disabled loos.
I can't help thinking however that this might show them "what it's like to be in a wheelchair" from their point of view. But from mine it really doesn't. I don't know what it would take to show that in a story and I'm not sure I want to try. This piece might be fiction and it might be a lot of fun. And I'm really pleased with how it's come out and especially with the feedback. It's a huge part of my life that highlights however. And a part of me does want to go "this is my life!!" and make them see the bigger picture.
But I don't think I will. Because that's a route which often leads to pity and guess what? I've been there, done that. I don't want to do it again!!