When to Listen to and When to Ignore Writing Advice

I wrote a thing about a thing on author Louise Allan’s Writers in the AtticThis is a topic that means a lot to me as a writer, and I’m so glad Louise let me share my thoughts on this forum, which also has other great authors! (Including my homie, Robin Elizabeth!)


by  |May 29, 2017 | WRITERS IN THE ATTIC

I’m always excited when someone I don’t know contacts me wanting to be part of Writers in the Attic. That’s how this post came about, and until I read Cait’s essay, I knew as much about this Irish-Canadian author and editor as you!

Read on to learn more about Cait (pronounced ‘Cat’) and her tips on when to listen to feedback on your manuscript, and when not to. I found them spot on! Whether you’re writing your first draft or your twentieth, this essay is well worth a read.

Cait is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring authors with disabilities and/or chronic illness. And she loves cupcakes.

You can follow her on her personal website, her editing websiteFacebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Cait Gordon: When to Listen to and When to Ignore Writing Advice

Um. I’m not sure if I just shot myself in the foot with the title of this article. I can just picture you all thinking, Oh. Well, I’ll chose to ignore then. Buh-bye Cait. Have a nice life.

This happens to be the topic I’ll be discussing in a panel I’m leading at the Limestone Genre Expo this June (2017). The inspiration came from my own journey while writing my comedy sci-fi, Life in the ’Cosm. And what a ride it was, too. I learned the hard way that if you ever want a massive deluge of unsolicited advice, just post on social media that you’re writing a book. Holy wiggies. Everything from ‘your word count is too much, cut 20,000 words’ to ‘sci-fi isn’t really funny if it’s real sci-fi’ to ‘you’re never going to get published in Canada’ to ‘even if you do get published, they’ll slash your book to bits’.

Yeah. So that happened. I also was told to go to conference upon conference with my first draft and try to get the attention of editors before I even dared finish the book. Did I mention that none of these advice-givers had even read one word of my work-in-progress? When I think about it, every person had good intentions, but was it ever derailing from the writing process. I half-wonder if this kind of advice is akin to the unwanted parenting advice or birthing horror stories that expectant mothers receive. I’ll have to ask around.

‘The problem with listening to writing advice before you’ve even finished the first draft is that it can be so discouraging, you might stop working on your manuscript full stop.’

Read the full article on Writers in the Attic!

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.

I’ll be at the Limestone Genre Expo!

Limestone Genre Expo
Saturday June 3 and Sunday June 4, 2017, 10 am-5pm
St. Lawrence College
100 Portsmouth Ave., Kingston, ON


Really looking forward to sharing with and learning from other authors! I’ll be sitting on the the following panels: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Speculative Fiction and Extraordinary Bodies – The Portrayal of Disability in Speculative Fiction. I’ll also be moderating a panel called When to Listen to and When to Ignore Writing Advice. See the schedule for this event!

My First Week with Noola

File_000

Isn’t she a beaut?

After years of needlessly suffering, I finally bought a rollator, which is a walker with a seat and wheels. I named it Noola, after the feisty character in Life in the ‘Cosm. Fellow author Jamieson Wolf said he was glad I named it that because, as he stated, “Noola would roll!”

Noola and I have been rolling, too. Because of the neuropathy I experience daily from fibromyalgia, I find it difficult to walk or stand for long. I’d been using a cane for years because nobody told me there were other options. HINT TO MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: If you want your fibro patients to move regularly but they consistently cannot, please suggest accessibility devices!

Glad I got that off my chest. Ahem. Anyway, I’ve taken to the rollator like a fish to water. We had the worst weather, which was basically all seasons in one day, and I still went out for my walkies. It’s so much easier for me to get around and last week there were three days in a row where I clocked 3K each day. That’s enormous for me! Having a seat with me all the time helped. If I felt tired, I’d sit down, text my bff, drink an apple juice, and then continue on.

Even my first test-drive at a mall was super fun. I kept saying to my husband unit, “Let’s go here! Let’s go there!” I zipped around all over the place, like a hyper animal let out of a cage. After a few days I realised I had probably developed coping mechanisms for years, to keep myself from going insane due to being cooped up inside all the time. But since having Noola, you cannot keep me indoors.

I know I’m new to this, but . . .

Okay, so here’s something not as super fun that I’ve discovered: bathrooms, while using an accessibility device. Stuff has happened to me in bathrooms that made me feel pillow-wallopy. (I often threaten to get out the Whacking Pillow when I’m miffed.)

Now, I have a micro-bladder, and I understand if there are only two or three stalls and you feel like you’re going to explode, you use the larger stall if it’s the only one free. Also, if you have several children and a stroller and such, or have a genuine need to use the wider stall because those narrow stalls can sometimes be ridiculously narrow, I totes get it. But here’s a few things that I’d like to suggest if you do not have a disability and/or can use the regular stall:

  • If you are standing in front of the line inside the bathroom and see a person with an accessibility device and the larger stall becomes free, don’t go into the larger stall. Allow the person with the mobility aid to use the stall. We cannot fit into a smaller one.  (Totally happened to me this past weekend. More than once.)
  • Maybe don’t hold open the actual stall door for us. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I found it a bit invasive and kind of creepy. A++ for effort, though. I could tell people were trying to be kind.
  • When there is no automatic door to enter and exit the bathroom, you can ask if a person with a mobility device needs help with the door. If they say no, don’t argue the point. Personally, I can get inside no problem, but it’s a pain when exiting. I wish all bathrooms had the automatic door openers. I really did appreciate when someone helped me there. But ask first.

Saying yes instead of no

The most wonderful thing about having Noola is that I don’t have to say, “No, I can’t,” to everything. You’d be surprised how much stress I would carry from thoughts like, Do I have to stand in line? and, I hope there’s somewhere I can sit, and, Is there much walking involved? Having a rollator takes a lot of that off my plate so I can just go out and enjoy myself. I spent last weekend at Ottawa Comiccon for all three days. Okay, so, it hit me on the Sunday that I overdid it because I was an enthusiastic puppy, but I had a great time. Last year I’d been almost weeping from pain. This year I zoomed all over the con, sat down when I wanted to munch on a snack, and zoomed around some more. I felt so independent!

I like how my future looks like it will be full of more yes answers than no answers. As an author, I want to see people and do all the things! When I’m not authoring, I want to get out with friends and see my family. My husband and I have started walking together again. I missed that.

It was author Madona Skaff-Koren who suggested I try her walker last year and then sent me to the amazing people at Ontario Medical Supply. Thanks, Madona! I owe you big time.

When we with disabilities encourage and support each other, amazeballs things happen.

Whee! (That’s my internal thought when I’m rolling with Noola.)

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic illness. She likes cupcakes.

I’ll be at Ottawa Comiccon 2017

Look for me at the Renaissance table on Friday May 12, 2017 at Ottawa Comiccon, from 1-5 pm, selling Life in the ’Cosm and other awesome books. I’ll be floating around all weekend, too. Follow my Instagram to see what I’m up to! So stoked!

/cg


Hannah

Cait Gordon is author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. She is also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network, a blog featuring writers with disabilities and/or chronic illness. In her spare time Cait plays drums, reads, plots to take over the world with The Brain, and eats an absurd amount of cupcakes.

My New Wheels!

rollator

I AM SO STOKED, PEEPS!

My first-ever rollator (a walker with wheels) came in yesterday. This makes me crazy with happiness. Why? Well, simply put, I feel disabled without the thing, but with it, I feel able! You see, my leg neuropathy does not allow me to stand for long periods of time, or partake in many activities because I know after walking for a bit, I’ll be in too much pain to continue. So, I say no to things a lot. And an extrovert saying no to doing stuff with people sort of rots the soul a little.

BUT! Because I am a published author, there are conferences I must attend for learning and for self-promotion. I want to go to these events. And with this rollator, I can! Always having a seat with me is an enormous deal. Last year at Can*Con 2016, people suggested I sit on a window sill while waiting in line for a panel. That was a solution, I guess, but not a very good one. Also, I kinda hate asking people for chairs all the time. It’s going to be nice just to chill and be independent.

I’ve been using a cane for so long, I know I’ve been compensating and not working all my muscles properly when I walk. This accessibility device is going to force me to move it, move it! I have a goal of eventually walking in charity marches (like 1K, 2K, and eventually 5K). I don’t care if I come in last, either. It will feel good to be athletic again.

Also, I need the rollator inside my own home. I never realised that before. Huh. Discovering new stuff all the time.

The thought of not fretting in advance about how long I’ll be out takes a whole lot off my mind. If I’m shopping and I’m tired, I can sit for a spell. Same with walking outside. I can try longer distances because I know I can take a breather whenever I need to. In the suburb where I live, there’s nowhere for me to stop and sit.

The occupational therapist who assessed me told me that it was great that I had such a positive attitude in admitting I need the rollator. I told her it will open so many doors for me and that I was fed up of staying in the house, relying on rides, or the usual, which was saying, “No, I can’t do that.”

Going from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can do this and I can do that’ is like winning the lottery.

I have a disability. It doesn’t have me.

Oh yeah, this morning I saw a photo with two ladies fencing while using rollators. That’s a thing, right? Because I so wanna be a walker Jedi.

*rubs hands sinisterly*

/cg

CGAuthorCait Gordon is an Irish-Canadian warrior princess and author of Life in the ’Cosm, a space opera about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague (Renaissance). Cait’s also the editor of the Spoonie Authors Network,  a blog featuring writers with disabilities and/or chronic illness. She also likes cupcakes.