The Jet Powerchair Rides Again!
Today, Barnum and I went to the pond (the happiest place on earth, if you’re a dog, or a person who loves dogs) in my van. This was my test-run to see if my powerchair that I’ve been working on could handle the hills and pine needles and tree roots and such. And it did! Without all the tipping and out-of-control feeling of the purple monstrosity, too.
The plan had been that if the chair survived the walk at the pond, Barnum and I would walk home. However, on the way back to the van, it started to rain, so we decided to drive back. The rain stopped before we loaded the chair, but I didn’t know if it might start back up; I just got this chair working, I don’t want to risk getting caught in a downpour.
Barnum had a fabulous time. He ran and ran, the embodiment of joy. He was quite good about coming when called (not 100 percent on the first call — we’re still working on that — but always eventually). He checked in visually frequently.
He also was much more confident and eager to go in the water than I’d anticipated. He waded in several times to cool off and drink. (Humidity was over 78 percent when we left, so I didn’t bother with the Swamp Cooler.) I clicked him for going in deeper, and he’d come out, get his cheese, and wade back in. Excellent! I’m hoping he’ll be a swimmer eventually. If I ever get my PICC line out, I’d like to teach Barnum to help me swim, like Gadget used to.
Now I feel ready to go for real walks with him, around the neighborhood or to the pond or for on-the-road public access training. My old powerchair has been given — and has given me — new life! (L’chaim.)
A Non-Dog Blog
My pchair isn’t the only thing I’ve been trying to bring back to life. I’ve also been trying to get back to my writing. Bit by bit, I’m making progress, as my body and brain respond to Lyme treatment. (My Lyme-related pain is always less in the summer, too, so I’m trying to capitalize on that.)
For quite a while, I’ve known I need to create a new website and blog for the writing side of my life. My old sites are very out-of-date. They don’t even have my current email address. I had hoped I could transfer material to the aftergadget.com blog, and make that my “everything” website (writing, dog, and disability stuff), but I’ve changed my mind, for two reasons.
One is technical. I’ve had problems using the site since the beginning. I thought I’d learn as I went, and that over time, I’d get the blog running full-steam-ahead. Instead, the opposite has happened. It’s been like a hydra: I lop off one tech problem and two more grow in its place. I’ve learned my lesson from the purple powerchair; sometimes it’s better to give up early and cut your losses.
The other is content-related. The more I take part in social media (blogging, Twitter, and Facebook), the more I realize that not only do they provide opportunities and possibilities I hadn’t known about, but also that they are becoming the major — or sometimes the only — way to access certain information, networks, and people. Since writing is about communication and connection, it’s really essential to use these tools.
However, I have what might appear to be an odd handicap: I’ve got too many interests! I have several writing niches: dogs, disability rights and culture, humor, erotica, environmental issues, and queer/feminist nonfiction, plus a smattering of speculative fiction, non-genre fiction, and poetry. I also have written a lot of poetry for children that I have never gotten around to organizing into publishable form. Most of what I publish these days is either erotic fiction or disability-related nonfiction.
This might not seem to be a problem, except that most people who rely on social media for their work — especially writers — have one niche or two. For example, I have connections and friendships with people in academia (women’s studies, disability studies, queer/gender studies), playwriting, essays, poetry, environmental journalism, humor writing, sexual information and education, song writing, storytelling/memoir, erotica, speculative fiction/sf (science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream), dog writing, etc. They are mostly focused on specific forms, and/or specific genres within those forms.
Not that there isn’t overlap. Many people write both poetry and prose, for example. And there is a lot of cross-genre writing too; some of the most prolific writers of erotica and science fiction are the same people. Combined with our current cultural fascination with all things otherworldly, this has led to a boom in demand for erotic stories featuring werewolves, shapeshifters, zombies, fairies, and the like. (I’m beginning to worry that my erotica, which boringly only focuses on humans, will soon have no home!)
However, most writers I know either focus on one or two forms or genres, or they write one form or genre under their real name and another under a pseudonym. Thus, if you go to Sacchi Green’s blog, you know you’re going to get mostly lesbian erotica and some sf. Cecilia Tan’s blog focuses on combined erotica/sf and baseball history. If you go to Susie Bright’s blog, you’ll get essays and memoir about the intersections of sex, feminism, and social justice. If you go to Victoria Stilwell’s or Sue Ailsby’s blog, you’ll get dog training information.
It makes sense to specialize, because different people have different interests, so they go where they find what interests them. Since I generally have no interest in reading horror or young adult Christian fiction, I’m unlikely to read Stephen King’s blog (though it’s actually hilarious) or um, the blog of someone who writes YA Christian fiction.
I know I have a few readers who come here mostly because they enjoy my writing, not because they are “dog people,” but even in these cases, there is usually some personal connection to me or my other topics (disability, chronic illness, etc.). As a result, I usually don’t blog about aspects of my life unrelated to dogs or disability. Lately, as I get back into other writing, I’m feeling a bit hindered by this.
I also feel awkward sometimes when I blur the line. Or hen I retweet something from my erotica world, because I don’t know if my dog or Lyme disease or whoever-else-found-me-through-After Gadget people want to read that. Probably, if I have two blogs, I can have two accompanying Twitter accounts, too.
I want to blog about my writing — what I’m working on, my process, to burble with joy when I am in the creative flow, and to explain the aspects of my disabilities that inhibit me. I’d like to post clips of forthcoming work, links to existing work, and interviews with other writers. I also want a place that will help me integrate the business of writing with my blogging — where I can hawk my services as an editor, teacher, proofreader, and hopefully, eventually, my books! (It’s really become essential for serious writers in some arenas to already have followers in order to get a book contract.)
So, I’m creating a new blog on Blogger. It’s true that there are aspects of Blogger I really don’t like, however it’s quite easy to use, and it provides a lot more latitude with regard to content and use as part of a business than WordPress. I have no idea when it will be done; I have a lot of other irons in the fire right now. Still, I’m excited that it’s in the works. It feels like an important step in my taking myself seriously as a writer. Plus, between the two blogs, I can be more me.
Thank you for joining me on my journey thus far!
– Sharon, the muse of Gadget (star of many old humor columns), and Barnum, SDiT and Pond Puppy