One day I was hanging out in the hallway of the middle school with some other mommies, waiting for all the sports practices to be over so we could shuttle our kids home.
These two other moms standing next to me were talking about diets and diabetes. They were both on Weight Watchers. One mom had lost tons of weight. The moms talk about the effect of weight on piercing private places and all this incredibly personal stuff.
And I am completely uptight so I basically listened with my mouth hanging open while backing up a step whenever I thought that they wouldn’t notice me backing up a step.
Then they started talking about sugar and sugar substitutes (Splenda and Aspartame).
One mom said, “That Aspartame. I stay away from that stuff. It makes the back of my throat feel funny. I think it does something to rats.”
So I said to the ladies who were just thirty seconds earlier talking about private part piercings, “Aspartame gives me seizures.”
I swear both their mouths dropped open and they both actually stopped talking, which was a big deal, because they NEVER stop talking.
And I learned: You can talk about your diabetes, your husband’s joy stick, your own special piercings, your kids’ bed wetting, but you can’t talk about epilepsy.
And, this? This just totally sucks.
Because, I’m someone who is really, really lucky. I know what makes me have seizures so I avoid those things, but other people aren’t lucky at all.
About one person in every 50 will have epilepsy at some point in his/her life. And they don’t always have the choice of disclosure, and they just have the stigma.
So? What does this have to do with writing?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the choices I’ve made in the books I’ve written. With Belle, the protagonist of Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, I made her a member of Amnesty International for really important reasons. I also gave her seizures, the same kind of seizures I have, caused by the same thing.
Her epilepsy is not a part of the plot. It’s not a part of the character development. But it’s there.
And, no matter how bad my book is, or how good, or that it won awards or made me a traditionally published writer, I am really, really glad I made that choice for Belle.
Gabby’s Monday Motivation
The world? It can be scary.
But put on your best warrior face.
Go surprise them with your kindness & how fine you are.
Look at you!
You’re so shiny.
Let the world see that. Let the world see you. Face that scary with beauty. You’ve got this.
I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up? I’ll be sending out more news about this soon!
COOKING WITH AN AUTHOR
This week’s Cooking With an Author – vegetarian recipes with a quirky, author twist is here. It’s all about hangover burritos. You do not have to be hungover or to ever have had alcohol to enjoy them.
DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST
LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!
The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!
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“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”Continue reading “Epilepsy, Writing, and Choices”