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The Word On The Street Blog

Stay updated on the latest festival news, book reviews, and more!

#WOTSAuthorChat with Dorothy Ellen Palmer

December 4, 2019

This past Sunday we ran our Book of the Month author chat on twitter with the indomitable Dorothy Ellen Palmer on her new memoir Falling For Myself out now with Wolsak & Wynne. She ensured the forum was open to readers at home, requesting we start the chat with “The major themes in Dorothy’s book is the struggle to accept her adoption and disability. Please introduce yourself and tell us whatever you would like to share about your identity.” Read on for the full chat transcript with Dorothy edited for maximum blog readability, or interact with the thread here.

WOTS: In a recent interview with Open Book, Dorothy describes writing a memoir as “setting the secrets free.” Is open vulnerability as a disabled person and/or a writer important? Is it costly?

Dorothy Ellen Palmer (@depalm): Yes. I learned that the hard way. With each draft my book got more vulnerable and I got more fearful. Eventually I knew I had to leave blood on the page as we say in the theatre. I got to the point where the truth telling really had to be all or nothing. And I think as hard as that was the book is better for it.

WOTS: One of the goals of Falling for Myself is to held build the #CripLit in #CanLit. What does that mean to you?

@depalm: Since 22% of the population is disabled, putting the #CripLit in #CanLit would mean that one out of every four authors, panelists, reviewers, judges, agents, publishers and prize winners would all be disabled. I’ll add that disabled people are 22% of every marginalized community so putting the #CripLit in #CanLit could increase the representation of all communities.

WOTS: Inclusion and representation are key, and studies show that readers are very interested in learning from diverse writers. And yet, almost all literary and arts events are inaccessible. How can we improve the accessibility of the arts?

@depalm: I think it’s first of all about awareness. People need to understand the sheer number of folks inaccessibility keeps out: 22% of the population. and then it’s about will, time and money. The will to take the time to listen to disabled people about what accessibility means to us, and to devote time and money to get it right. finally it’s about abled people realizing that accessibility is a human right and their fight too. Accessibility can’t be left up to disabled people to fight for alone.

WOTS: Your full arguments for why solidarity with the disabled community just makes sense in Falling For Myself are a much needed message for abled folks everywhere.

@depalm: Thank you! That’s what Disability Justice teaches me every day. That we’re all connected. “Nobody and no body left behind. ”

WOTS: How is the time and process of your creative work affected by your disability?

@depalm: In the disability [community] we talk about “crip time.” How it may take us longer to do something, how we can do it one day but not the next. That’s how I have to see my writing. Somedays I can. Others I can’t get out of bed. It’s a real fight against my own internalized ableism not to feel shamed or defeated by days I’m not “productive”. I tell myself not to be ruled by capitalist notions of worth and feel better.

WOTS: Your time and effort spent in writing your memoir are so greatly appreciated. We have to know, what are you working on next?

@depalm: I got a mobility scooter this summer and it has changed my life for the better. I’m hoping to write a series of connected personal essays called “Zen and the Art of Mobility Scooter Maintenance”.

WOTS: A title indicative of your signature charm, we know the essays will make us think and empathize! Looking forward to sharing in your insights.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us here today! Readers at home, please take this chance to ask Dorothy your questions.

@depalm: Thank you, for this opportunity to chat with you all. Keep safe in this ice storm and happy reading!