During a round of introductions, workshop participant John Duthie speaks about a project that he and Terri Mak are spearheading called MY disABILTIES. They hope to produce a book about people with disabilities that focusses on their abilities.
Next in turn, Terri says she came to Australia in 2012 on a Working Holiday visa. In 2013, she was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained C5 level of injuries, resulting in tetraplegia. Euan asks how good she is with computers.
‘Well,’ she says, with infectious optimism, ‘I’m a quick learner.’
During the lunch break, another workshop participant confides in Terri, ‘I had a motor accident too. I have a 25% disability but it’s not as obvious as yours.’
It got me thinking about disabilities, visible and invisible. I don’t have a physical disability but if the ‘dis’ that precedes ‘ability’ means a non-ability, and if I stretch that to mean anything that prevents me from exercising my abilities, then my invisible disability would be self-doubt.
As an engineer, turned full-time mother, then teacher, then writer, each time I tried to reinvent myself, a voice heckled me: Who are you? A mother whose children have grown up? A teacher with no class? A writer with no publisher? Can you even write? Teach? Parent? Engineer? Well, I don’t think I can engineer software or hardware anymore. I left that profession too long ago.
A few things have happened since I walked into that publishing workshop. Firstly, Euan equipped me with concrete tool to reissue my dad’s book online. Secondly, Terri’s can-do quick-learner attitude lifted me out of my morass of self-doubt. And finally, I’ve signed up to be a writer on the MY disABILITY team. When John emailed ‘Good job’ in response to a small task I did, I realised how much I miss being part of a team.
John and Terri are putting together a team to work on the book. They are looking for people with disabilities, writers, illustrators, proofreaders and editors. The closing date for applications is 15 October. For more info or to apply go to MY disABILITIES.