Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Power of the Internet

When you have a rare condition [and/or a child with a rare condition] the internet is such a powerful tool for finding others with the same condition. That can then be an amazing source of information, support and comfort because having a rare condition can be quite an isolating experience.

As Archie's broken a few bones recently I e mailed an e mailing list for people with Kniest/SEDc and asked if this was a common occurance, seems like it is. Although I'd rather he didn't break bones, knowing that it is 'normal' for some Kniest children [wasn't a regular occurance for me I have to say] was reassuring.

I've also come to realise through belonging to that group how lucky we have been with Archie in terms of him being able to walk, as there are other children with Kniest who can't walk or who use wheelchairs. I'm not sure how much that has to do with the fact that we never contemplated the idea that Archie wouldn't walk, because I can walk. And I wonder how much can your expectations of a child's development can influence their final ability?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mistaking child abuse in disabled children

The case of Baby P is too awful for words. A case of deliberate, willful obliteration of an innocent life.

Before the case came up I had been thinking about whether there was an article waiting to be written about the issue of how parents of disabled children are wrongly accused of child abuse, apparently it does happen.

The reason I'd been pondering the issue was because my son Archie, who has Kniest Syndrome, had recently broken two fingers in a fall. A few days after the fall we realised that something wasn't quite right. A trip to the doctors lead to the diagnosis that it was very very unlikely that the finger was broken as he was using that hand, indeed it looked like he was.

But watching him closely after the visit to the doctors I realised he wasn't using those fingers at all and he would really scream in pain if ever he/we caught them accidently eg through picking him up, dressing etc.

At A&E the doctor was asking him about it and he was saying "sometimes they hurt when I catch them and sometimes when daddy does" - it was an innocent comment that could have been laid open to a different interpretation. It transpires that he had actually broken two fingers poor mite.

So far he's broken a leg and two fingers, [possibly in hindsight after the finger experience] a thumb too. I asked some fellow mothers of children with Kniest whether their children had also broken limbs and it wasn't unusual. The root of the problem is the inflexibility of the joints but it's quite scary going to the doctors/A&E with an increasing list of broken bones.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be caught in the net of mistaken child abuse of a disabled child, perhaps I should write that article and find out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What do you do when your toddler is nearly as big as you?

Not a question the majority of people have to even consider.... But one I've been faced with this last week or so as we've just moved house and while putting things away it's been a balancing act trying to find places I can reach sharp/breakable/tearable/destructable object which means my toddler, who is well up to my chest height now, can't reach them!

It would help if he wasn't bright but [thankfully] he is and so even when I've found cupboards he can't quite reach the handle for or drawers he can't quite reach into he quickly works out that standing on one of the various steps scattered around will do the trick.

The bottom line is that he has to learn that some things are out of bounds and that is no bad thing, who wants a kid who thinks they can do what they like or have whatever they want all the time anyway?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Society's fascination with short people

I read about the publicity stunt to publicise the release of the "Guiness Book of Records 2009", due out today. They brought together the 'shortest man who can walk' - He Pingping who is precisely 2ft 5.37 inches, with 'the woman with the longest legs' - Svetlana Pankratova whose legs are more than 4 ft long.

It's the usual voyeurism draw but people are constantly fascinated by short people [and very tall ones too]. But when being short is just the norm, as it is for me, it's hard to understand the fascination?

I have to say I wouldn't mind meeting He Pingping because I'd actually be meeting an adult who's shorter than me, which I've only done about twice in my life so far!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Paralympics!

There's no denying that the BBC coverage of the Paralympics is better than ever before.

Nightly programmes which have roughly the same format as the Olympic coverage, together with well known commentators and presenters [not to mention the added bonus of Tanni Grey-Thompson], makes the coverage slick and impressive.

Apart from the fact that someone couldn't be bothered to build a couple of ramps for the podiums, the only downer I find is the classification system for disabled competitors - is it just me or is it overly complicated?

This means my partner and I end up playing a "guess/spot the disability" game whilst watching.... It's a fine balance I'm sure, no one is expecting the commentator to come out with "look at that blindie", "wow he's only got half an arm" but a little bit of a clue would sometimes be quite useful, interesting. Perhaps the commentators don't want to make PC gaffs but they do get it right, it's just that for me they don't seem to say often enough what's "up" with people!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have Kids Will Travel - article for Getting There magazine

Check out my article recently published in Getting There magazine about the issue of being a disabled parent using public transport with a child in tow, no mean feat but possible with the sort of planning that would do the military proud.

There's a photo of Archie taken fairly recently, with a bus and a tube, at the start of the article and one of me and him in a tube station, taken ages ago now - looks like he's got something wrong with his eye but it's actually a bad 'anti red eye' fix....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Being able to jump [or not]

Ben and Archie are into trying to jump at the moment; I'm sure Ben will get the hang of it fairly soon but Archie might never get the hang of it because having Kniest and jumping don't really go together.

I was never that fussed about not being able to jump [or run] but then it was slightly different for me because I didn't have a little sibling snapping at my heels making me want to do better than them.

When I was young, the one thing I was fussed about was not being able to kneel down and sit back on my feet, if you know what I mean? It always looked like a very comfortable way of sitting on the floor but even if hell had frozen over I still wouldn't have been able to do it, my joints were never flexible enough.

However I remember, when I was about 7, a misguided physiotherapist telling me that if I did this exercise and that exercise I would be able to attain my dream sitting position. Of course this was just an outrageous scam to get me to do the exercises, which was totally unnecessary because I was slightly obsessive about doing them anyway.

Needless to say I did the exercises and I still couldn't kneel and sit back on my feet. I think I was more annoyed about being conned than upset about the exercises not working in the end!

I hope Archie can end up pleased with the things he can do rather than focus on what he can't but I guess that's always going to be slightly harder when he has a little brother who looks like Olympiad material to me - but he is my first non disabled child so it's a learning curve having such an 'able' child in contrast to one who is the mirror image of me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

For children disability is normal

I was talking to Archie the other day about going on a airplane and he was saying "and you know what mum, you'll go in the wheelchair!" That's because I always get assistance to cover the long distances at airports. He then went on to point out that we would go in the "air ambulance" which for him is the vehicle that takes you to the plane so you don't have to go up the stairs.

All this is normal for him, it's even exciting. Disability and difference is no big deal for him yet though he does talk about height quite a bit at the moment and I think he is noticing more and more that some people are taller than others.

I wonder at what point he'll find the difference 'embarrassing' or when he'll start to tune into other people's, including children's, comments about me or him being shorter than most? I do spend time worrying about all that but I suppose it's pointless worry really, instead I guess we should enjoy the oblivious honeymoon phase while it lasts.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"The Man with 20 Kids" and "Cotton Wool Kids"

Just made myself depressed by watching two recorded programmes, "Cotton Wool Kids" which was on C4 and 'The Man with 20 Kids" which was on BBC 1.

With "Cotton Wool Kids" it was so sad to see the kids smothered by their parent's fears and anxieties. It was obvious watching all the children in the programme how bright they were and yet some were bearly allowed out the front door because they might just, possibly, maybe, one day, be abducted or worse. Life for them mostly consisted of watching TV and computer games. Torture.

It was torture of another kind watching "The Man with 20 Kids", there's no doubt that the guy does love his kids but it just feels so wrong that he choses to have more and more when they live in such squalor and chaos.

As numerous messageboards have commented the moment when one of the youngest members of the family was just left to find a spot on the floor to sleep because no one had thought put him to bed was simply awful.

It's quite unbelievable as to why someone would chose to broadcast their family life like this - I wonder what they hoped to get out of it? And what good did the BBC think would come out of broadcasting it?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sometimes it's hard to tell the truth...

Recently Archie [who has Kniest Syndrome which means he will never be that tall] has talked about when he is older and with that he talks about being taller...

When I mentioned this to my partner Mike he said we mustn't lie to him; indeed I haven't lied to him but I have used vague words like 'possibly/maybe/I'm not sure/I don't think so' in response to comments Archie's made like "when I'm older I'll be as tall as daddy"....

I mean is there any point in saying to him at just 3 1/2 years old, "actually Archie you're not going to be as tall as daddy, you're probably going to be more like mummy's height"? In fact when Mike did say that to him the other day he said "no, I'm going to be as tall as you daddy..."

The thing is is the whole truth helpful at this stage? Will it help him to adjust to the reality of the future? Or could it possibly have a negative effect?

If you know the answer please tell me!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Britain's Missing Top Model - Vacancy Filled?

Just to say my comment about BBC Three's 'Britain's Missing Top Model" series is now on the Disability Now website:

Not totally sure about the headline or byline but I didn't write them!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Britain's Missing Top Models - BBC Three - watch it!

The BBC Three series 'Britain's Missing Top Model' started this week [Tuesdays 9pm] and and although it may have a few cringe-worthy moments it is actually very promising. Some may feel it is a bit voyeuristic at times but being a series about models you could say that's the nature of the beast I guess.

It will be interesting to see how the series evolves [and how it goes down with disabled and non disabled viewers] but just having a few disabled women on the TV is refreshing; when you actually see disabled people on TV you realise what a rare event it still is....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mind your disability language!

Read an article yesterday, via the 'Isn't she talking yet?' blog - great name for a blog by India Knight who has a disabled child:

Anyway the article mentioned the word "harelip", it just leapt out at me from the page, I didn't really think people used it any more.... [the better term here if you are wondering is "cleft lip"] and I just thought, in case anyone was remotely interested I'd put a few pointers re the right language to use when it comes to talking/writing about disability:

'The disabled', 'The blind', 'The deaf' lumps people together, much better to use: 'Disabled people', 'blind/visually impaired people', 'deaf people'

NB Some people don't mind the term 'people with Disabilities', I prefer the more political term Disabled people - which refers to the way Disabled people are disabled by society more than anything else... that's the basis of the Medical vs Social Model of Disability argument, more on that another time!

'Able bodied' makes people sound super wonderful and able, better to say 'Non disabled'

The term 'Mentally handicapped' or heaven forbid 'retard' went out with the horse and cart, use 'people with learning difficulties/disabilities'

A better term than 'Mentally ill' is 'people with mental health problems'

Don't say 'Dwarf', say 'short statured person', 'short person', 'person with restricted growth'; personally I find "little person" too American/naff and 'vertically challenged' is just laughable

'Wheelchair bound' and 'confined to a wheelchair' are just plainly ridiculous because no one is bound/confined to a wheelchair [unless they are into S&M], the vast majority of wheelchair users see their wheelchair as something that liberates them and prefer to be called a 'wheelchair user'

The BBC OUCH! worst word poll found the word 'special' is right up there amongst the worst words to use when referring to disability, use 'segregated' [when talking about schools] or 'different' [when talking about needs]

Similarly most disabled people hate to be described as courageous, heroic,
inspiring, brave, just don't use them

Finally, 'Victim of', 'suffering from' makes big assumptions, better to say 'a person with/who has…' and fill in the disability/condition.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lordosis - curvature of the spine and all that

A few weeks ago we took Archie to see my/his consultant, I was concerned that the lower part of his back is already quite curved. After waiting around, seeing the consultant's stand in, getting x-rays, seeing the consultant's stand in again we were told he would call after having spoken to absent consultant.

Weeks passed without a call so I followed it up myself. The feedback was that there is nothing they can do [certainly at this moment in time anyway] as lordosis/curvature of the spine is all part and parcel of bone dysplasia.

The only advice was to try and ensure that Archie’s spine and hips are kept as flexible as possible and keep him as stretched and as strong as possible. Though ideas as to how to do this were not forthcoming.

As a child I too went for these annual checkups with a consultant, both my parents would take the whole day off work because it was almost a whole day of waiting before you were called in. He would, with an entourage of medical students looking on, give me a quick once over and say 'no need to do anything at the moment, maybe next year, see you then.' Within minutes we'd be back out in the waiting room.

I live in the hope that maybe there's more that can be done for Archie to minimise his 'difference', but maybe it really is just pie in the sky wishful thinking on my part and more about me anyway - wishing that my back had never been allowed to have got so curved. Don't get me wrong I'm not all out to make him 'normal' but if there are ways of preventing certain things happening I'd go for that, I certainly won't be pushing for him to go in for leg lengthening that's for sure!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Disabled people overload on TV!?

Nearly choked on my lion bar when a short statured teacher popped up on Eastenders last night and then on top of that there's a blind person and someone with Albinism on Big Brother!

Not sure if the EE character will be a regular but at least the Big Brother inmates might last for a few weeks and provide some sort of enlightenment. All good stuff I hope.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Disabled or not disabled that is the question?

For me there is no question about it - I consider myself to be a Disabled person. The capital D is deliberate, the idea is that it makes a political point ie I feel I'm more disabled by physical aspects of society, eg stairs and high counters, and people's personal prejudice/ignorance, than I am by my 'condition' per se.

I've been having a lot of contact with disabled people recently or rather people who you would think would identify themselves as disabled but they don't. They use phrases like "normal with additional needs", or "differently able" or just deny any allegiance with disabled people whatsoever, "I'm not one of them" sort of attitude.

Up until I was about 18 I was the same. In spite of being much much shorter and less mobile/agile than my peers I had a bury my head in the sand attitude towards aligning myself with "those really disabled people over there", ugh.

Then in my gap year I got a job working for a very small disability charity working with some real disabled people and it blew me away really. Here were some people who were positive, independent, dare I say it HAPPY about being disabled. To align myself with them wasn't saying I was rubbish, unable, inferior, it was about saying I was proud to be disabled. It was about what you COULD do rather than what you couldn't and about recognising that it was the barriers in society that often had far more impact on how difficult our lives were than our "medical conditions" [otherwise known as the social model of disability...].

I think once I reached that turning point in my life I became much much happier about who I was; I wonder whether this personal contact with people who are proud to be disabled is a crucial element needed for [some] people to identify themselves as disabled, or is it just coincidence that a lot of the people who deny their 'disability' say they don't really have any contact with disabled people?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Honest to blog

Someone sent me a link to a blog by a man with leukaemia the other day, it was so honest and open that it was impossible not to be moved by it:

It made me think that in order for my blog to be more constructive perhaps I should be more honest and open about the issues I face especially the issue of having a child with the same disability as me.

But it's SO hard being honest with myself about the whole thing sometimes.

One of the issues I'm currently thinking about after a recent visit to the consultant is how far would I go to prevent Archie getting the same curved spine [lordosis] I have, a symptom of having Kniest. My problem is that perhaps the one thing I've always hated about having Kniest is the curved spine aspect of it - it made me semi-suicidal when I was a teenager.

But even if intervention is possible [and I currently don't know if it is because the consultant we actually went to see was "on a course", great] it will involve spinal surgery which is obviously not without great risk.

Would I be wrong to persue this option or wrong not to?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is there a perfect non disabled/disabled sibling combination?

I've been trying to work out if there is a perfect combination of siblings when one of them has a disability?

My son Archie has Kniest Syndrome which, put simply, means he will be short statured and will have mobility problems. My younger son Ben doesn't have Kniest.

Now Archie is 3 and Ben is 16 months they are already the same size. Ben is already more agile than Archie and probably physically stronger too.

Archie is starting to notice all this I'm sure and it must be hard for him to watch his younger brother being able to do certain things more easily than he can.

Would it be easier if Archie was younger? I think perhaps yes. I was the youngest of 3 sisters and I don't ever remember comparing myself in the same way as they were obviously going to be more able/better than me at most things - the excuse being they were older.

Does increasing the number of siblings distract further from the direct "competition" of having 1 disabled and 1 non-disabled child? I very much doubt I'll be able to answer that one from personal experience but I'd be interested to know from other people's experience.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Writing and more writing/parenting a disabled child

Haven't posted for over a week mainly because I've been busy researching various writing commissions. The thing I love about writing is the variety, even though I've chosen to specialise writing about disability there is still a whole lifestyle to explore within that - one minute I'm writing about disabled parents or schooling for a disabled child, the next minute it's public transport, Thalidomide, Aspergers or reviewing a book!

More recently some of my commissions have meant exploring the world of parents of disabled children, there's some overlap in experience of course but it is a whole new perspective.

I also belong to this world being the parent of a disabled child and it's now that I can really start to appreciate what a tough job it is.

What I haven't worked out is - is it tougher for me being the parent of a disabled child having passed on my disability or tougher for someone having a baby who has a disability who's never ever encountered disability before then?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Looking Up book review for disability now

Another of my book reviews has just gone up on the Disability Now website:

It was quite a refreshing read as the author who broke his back falling out of a tree wasn't one of these spinally injured people who then wanted to conquer Everest, trek across a desert or sail round the world, he just wanted to get some sort of life back....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rough Guide to Accessible Britain review published on BBC OUCH!

My review for the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain went up on the BBC OUCH! website today, I've done a few book reviews recently and quite enjoy them especially if I would have read the book anyway!:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Googling yourself

Every now and then I just can't help myself and I end up putting my name into google just to see what happens.

Today I found I'd been quoted in a Broadcast article about 'How Diverse is British TV?' [] after having written an article for the Broadcast website about how hard it is to work in TV when you are a disabled person - I knew they'd like my 'trying to make an impression at belly button level' comment....

But I do have to say the Emma Bowler quote on the Marmite website is not me, I would never say "Go Marmite" unless I was saying for it to go into the bin, can't stand the stuff.

Neither am I the Emma Bowler The Wildlife Artist, but I find it quite interesting to find out what my namesakes do.

Sometimes I wonder how I have so much time on my hands with 2 young children to look after....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

When does honesty become the best policy?

I had a twinge of sadness today as Archie [my 3 year old who has the same disability as me] was saying "when I’m bigger", "when I’m taller like daddy I’ll do more climbing."

I don't know how tall he will end up but the expected height range for Kniest is: 100 - 140 cm.

I know that I didn’t really clock my size difference til I was remarkably old, I’m sure I must have noticed [I’m not stupid] but perhaps I chose to block it out?

It's hard now hearing Archie’s aspirations, however small or transcient they may be. I know it's just something he was saying and he won't remember it tomorrow but it's still hard.

With me I remember there was one thing I really wanted to do when I was younger and that was to be able to kneel down and then sit back on my feet, for the simple reason that it looked really comfy and everyone else could do it.

I even told a physio about it. She said oh if you do this exercise and that one you’ll be able to do it. It was utter rubbish, as I would never have had the flexibility. Perhaps she was being nice but ultimately I felt very bitter that I couldn’t, in spite of doing the exercises, achieve this position.

At what point does honesty become the best policy?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ben at 15 months old - starts walking

OK he's not the youngest ever baby to start walking but seeing has we had to wait 2 and 1/2 years for Archie [who has the same disability as me, whereas Ben doesn't] to start walking it is pretty amazing to us.

Also the difference with Archie was that he actually started cruising when he was about 1 but just hung on to furniture for ages, then started pushing his trolley toy along and just wouldn't quite let go until he was absolutely stable. My guess was it was a protective mechanism because falling over would probably hurt him more than a non disabled child.

The weird thing with Ben is that all you have to do is get him up onto his feet, walk with him that first step, then when you let go he just keeps on walking!

I know it's probably all 'normal' for everyone with 'normal' children but it's all new for us! And it's another sign of how different our two children are because one has a disability and the other doesn't.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Broken leg update....

4 weeks ago I posted about my disabled 3 year old's broken leg, happy to say he is now walking better than ever and is very very pleased with himself about the whole thing too. It is so wonderful to see.

It's hard to convey how stressful this whole episode was; it felt like he'd virtually only just started walking, then all of a sudden he couldn't and it was no mean feat for me to have to be carrying him as he's nearly a 1/3 of my weight now, then there was the anxious wait to see if it would all heal OK, followed by more waiting to see if he would get back to where he was.

Fortunately this episode has a happy ending and I really hope it is a one off. Have booked him an appointment with his consultant in May to amongst other things see if is is more likely to happen again for him than a 'normal' child or if he was just plain unlucky.

No one tells you how stressful being a parent is.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Disabled models

Had another blog published on the Broadcast website yesterday:

This one was in response to the new BBC3 mission to find a disabled fashion model. It's not actually an original idea in that disabled models do already exist; some even get jobs beyond modelling unfashionable plastic rainproof capes, colostomy bags, mobility gadgets and stairlifts but they are not exactly the norm.

The one thing this series could do is generate publicity and through that raise the question of why disabled models are not used more often in the mainstream fashion arena and in advertising generally?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Two new articles published today

I have two new articles up on the web today; one on rare disabilities on the BBC disability OUCH! website:

The other is on the Broadcast website and is about how disabled programme makers are struggling to tackle prejudice in television.

You might have to register to view this one, but I'm going to try and sort out a pdf file so I can link to it asap if you prefer not to register:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

3 New Articles in 'Examples of my writing'

Have put just put new links to 3 articles I had previously written for Motability 'Lifestyle' magazine.

The first is on the cost of bringing up disabled children, the second on support for disabled parents and the third is on personal shoppers.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Disabled child vs non disabled child

Just downloading some photos of my two beautiful boys and it's very apparent now how Ben, who is 1 and non disabled, is on the cusp of being taller than Archie, who is 3 but has the same disability as me which ultimately means he will be short.

At the moment I'm sure their equality in size contributes to the way they already play together so well but I wonder how things will change when Ben starts to get bigger than Archie?

I'm sure they must currently present a strange phenomena for casual onlookers because Archie talks non-stop about absolutely anything in intricate detail and Ben is just about saying "baa" [for sheep], "roun and roun" [for Round and Round the garden] and dada [his favourite person]!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Disabled parents

Good news today - a visually impaired friend has at last had a baby boy.

I tend to have my heart in my mouth for much of my disabled friends' pregnancies only because pregnancy is such a dicey game for anyone. For some of my disabled friends their disability has been an added risk. So when it all turns out OK I can breathe a big sigh of relief!

The truth is that Disabled parents are no longer the rarity they once were and it is estimated that there are over 2 million disabled parents in the UK. A lot of disabled people want children just as a lot of non disabled people do. We don't necessarily do things the same way as other parents but the end result is the same and that's all that counts isn't it!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Broken leg

My oldest son Archie broke his leg before Christmas, nothing too original about that apart from the fact he's only 3 and it was broken as he stuck his leg out as he was pushed through a doorway in his pushchair. If that had had happened to a non-disabled child the leg/hip would have just have accomodated the angle but because Archie has the same disability and inflexibility as me, it broke.

Six weeks down the line the cast is off and we are now trying to encourage him to walk again. He only started walking with confidence at about 2 1/2 years old so it now it feels like he's never walked... I know it will come back again but it's so hard to watch him struggle to build up the strength and confidence again. It brings it home how difficult it is to have a disabled child moreover a child who's inherited your own disability.

Saying that it took me 34 years to break any bone and I did that skiing so maybe I deserved it!?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pitching article ideas

I've set up this blog, waded through the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook to identify potential magazines I could write for and done a big e mail out to disability organisations up and down the country asking to be put on their press release lists so I can get my finger on the disability pulse. So things are slowly but surely starting to move in the right direction.

Quite a few press offices have already got back to me with ideas that could be turned into potential articles and their enthusiasm has been encouraging.

In fact I've already sent in a couple of pitches but rather than just sit back and wait for any response to them I'm determined to keep up the momentum and continue researching for further ideas. At times it does feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything right now I have to say!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing a children's book

I'm kind of wanting to simultaneously - alongside writing more articles, looking after 2 small children and trying to have a life - write a Children's book.

Consequently I was a little bit gutted today because I snatched a few moments to do a bit of "what's hot and what's not" on the children's book front only to find a book called "Little Archie"; in fact not just a book, a whole series of books about how a boy gets shrunk to a few inches and then gets into all sorts of trouble.

OK it's not exactly the idea I had but it's probably too similar for me to get away with writing any sort of story about a little boy called Archie who gets into big trouble....

The question is whether I can make my idea sufficiently different. I have ordered one of the offending titles and will see what it has to say for itself before I deduce whether or not it's back to the drawing [or is that writing] board or not. The perils of publishing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Eastenders hits the disability jackpot?

All of a sudden it seems Eastenders has gone from ignoring the fact that 10% of the population has some sort of disability to embracing the idea head on, at least in the child population of the programme anyway.

First enter Ben, son of Phil Mitchell, who has a hearing impairment [though I thought he was surprisingly good at hearing even at a whisper when his hearing aid was broken by the evil Stella] and then Janet, Honey and Billy's daughter who has Down's Syndrome. And now - Penny Branning, daughter of Jack Branning who turns out to be a wheelchair user.

Is she set to become a key albeit another disabled child character in the series or does her brief appearance mean Eastenders can tick the "featured a wheelchair user" box for 2008 [or is that 1988 - 2008?]?

Of course if she is brought into the square I'm sure she'll be being played by a real wheelchair user.... Umm.

Disability sucks - but only sometimes!

I have the most adorable, chatty, smart, cute, witty 3 year old you could wish for. He has another defining characteristic - he's disabled, with the same disability as me.

Sometimes I've found myself looking at him recently as he grows into a 'proper' boy and feeling really sad because in spite of all his wonderful positive characteristics I know there will be times when he will hate being disabled. Maybe he'll even hate me for passing it on too?

But the really galling thing about this is that I still don't think it's a bad thing to be disabled overall it's just that other people make it FEEL like it's a bad thing [forgetting rubbish access for a moment here....].

If only we could get rid of that 'it must be dreadful to be disabled' attitude then disability would never suck. But will that, could that ever happen?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Teenage Pregnancy

Nearly overdosed on teen pregnancy programmes last night after watching "Baby Borrowers on Holiday" and "Born Survivors - Kizzy: Mum at 14" both on BBC Three.

Baby Borrows is the sort of programme that has you yelling at the TV "don't do it, have a life not children". OK children are a life but they are all consuming and a tie - one you don't need to have until you are well and truely ready for it. Besides half the couples on this programme don't even like each other; I really hope they just split up and go and have some fun.

Kizzy was a bit different. By her own admission getting pregnant was a mistake but with the help of her family she seemed to be getting on with it with a maturity beyond her years.

It's impossible to say whether her life would have been better if she hadn't had had a baby at 14, it certainly would have been very different but you can never truely say in what way. But what you can say is good on Kizzy for trying to give her baby the best possible start in life. Unlike the baby's so called father who fled to Essex when he found out Kizzy was pregnant...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Year - new year resolution to write more

Actually already half way through the first month of the year - where does the time go?

I think my biggest New Year's resolution is to proactively write more, seek out those commissions and gain a reputation in the disability niche I have chosen. That's not to say I won't write about anything else of course because writing is really all about the research and that has always been one of my fortes.

The first part of this plan was to get this blog up and running [perhaps that's where the last two weeks have gone!]. It will evolve but it's most of the way there now in terms of additional content.

The second part of this plan is to draw up a list of magazines/papers etc to write for, potential ideas and potential resources. I'm currently working on this. Then I can do the third part which is to start contacting the magazines/papers about whether they want ideas and if so, the ideas I have.

It's all about confidence though. At the moment it feels very much like a new blank canvas, I know it shouldn't feel that way as I've got bags of experience of writing but I guess now I'm saying, like thousands of others out there, that I want to make the move towards being a full time writer.

Let the resolution begin!