Saturday, February 7, 2009

"I'm Not Sick! I'm a Crip!"

I don't know how many times I've wanted to yell that, a choice not taken only because I was schooled in good manners by parents of southern heritage.

The most recent time came when I sent off an essay to a major metropolitan newspaper that features pieces about people's "Lives."

Ah, a market, I thought. A place to fly the crip flag and remind folks we're all in the same boat.

The response?
... this is nice but not really the right form for Lives. We really do stories or chronicles of something that happened, as opposed to essays. We also have a diagnosis column that runs every month in the magazine (written by a doctor) and the paper has the weekly health section, so we've been doing less health-related stuff than we used to do, and it makes it that much tougher to get on the page.
I do not mind the rejection. The piece I wrote was in fact an essay about "what is" rather than about "something that happened," but I am again bemused that disability is almost automatically interpreted as a "health issue."

Of course, the idea may be so deeply ingrained in societal perceptions of "normalcy" that it will never change. I do know I've been writing about life in a wheelchair for more than ten years, and I can see little progress.

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