on disabled authenticity

today i had the unutterable pleasure of reading this article by Dan Monks, an Australian actor from the womb, who writes beautifully on the challenges of storytelling disability, & on the problem of authenticity, of choosing between the stories we want to tell and the stories that others want to hear. the following is a particularly excellent section from the piece in question:

But more than that, if when I first acquired my disability, I could’ve seen real, authentic representations of myself in the stories we as a culture tell, it would’ve changed the way I felt about my disability and the shame I experienced around it. When our bodies are seen and our voices are heard, we are telling the younger generation of disabled people that they are valid, valued members of our society, who deserve to been seen and heard in all their beauty and ugliness and humanity.

i think i have written here before that from age 5 i knew that i wanted to be a writer and nothing else. i used to staple weird little homemade books together & i wrote several 60-70000 word novel(la?)s over my HSC yr & gap year (one of which very nearly got published, & i will forever be terrifically grateful that it didnt, since i was going through a phase where i desperately wanted to be jeanette winterson but hadn’t quite figured out yet that the only person with the sheer guts & skill to be as fabulously infuriatingly vainglorious as jeanette winterson & get away with it is, in fact, jeanette winterson). i made money off my writing here & there and i got published in token lit mags here & there and then my disability (which truly onset in 2014 although in many ways has always been with me) started really degenerating & i just stopped. i used to fill shelves of notebooks of handwritten epics, but i just can’t write longhand like that anymore. even with wrist braces i can’t type for too long without dislocating my wrists & fingers. i cant focus on tasks or read long paragraphs (even if i wrote them! like this one!)

& fuck it all but i’ve started writing poetry? which is so utterly bizarre to me that i still can’t quite believe it. i have never been a poet. and yet recently i discovered my english workbook from age 7 and found the pages filled with poetry, and odd little sketches, and autistic earnestness, and alienly beautiful half-anecdotes. perhaps my poetry was always hiding inside me the same way my disability was. anyway it just makes sense to me now. i’ve lost a great deal of occipital lobe functionality but it’s like some pathways light up when others are obscured. fragmented things make sense to me. i’ve begun to really love polishing poems into something very honed & deliberate & that’s something that prose as a genre just doesn’t allow for in the same way.

it’s fucking hard & the world doesn’t make it easy but we find ways to get by. i’m so determined to fill the world with beautiful furious banal queercrip stories because i needed them so badly growing up and now. & whatever form those stories take, it doesn’t matter, we just need to put them out there. we have always been reaching out and storytelling and speaking. the world just needs to listen. we are here & we are alive & we exist in all our beautiful ugly unabashed authenticity, & we will be heard.

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