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Don't Get Mad - Get Writing
by Dawn Colclasure

If there's one advantage a disabled person has over the more able-bodied citizens, it's that we know all too well the sting of discrimination. As a deaf person, I have had doors slammed in my face, people waving me aside to talk to someone else (and it was always someone who could hear) and I've also had people complain I was trying to "get away" with something just because I was deaf - and this was during the times I requested the same kind of treatment everybody else received. I have even had a teacher make fun of my inability to understand her in front of the entire class.

Sure these incidents hurt. Sure they made me mad. But you know what else they did? They got me writing. Whether I turned to a journal, letter or essay, I wrote about all of these things. And some of that writing continues today in the face of discrimination. It has become writing that sells.

I now regularly contribute to a newspaper for the deaf. I turned my anger at being discriminated against and receiving unequal treatment into articles for a newspaper called SIGNews. Now instead of getting mad the next time someone slams a door in my face or the next time someone refuses to do business with me because I can't hear, I get writing. I write all about the discrimination and some of this writing will sell. I have taken this new outlet and broadened the topics I write about. Instead of just writing about discrimination, I'm also writing about laws being ignored, new programs and software created for the deaf and the many technological advances available to deaf students. On a good week, I'll uncover the story that nobody ever thought could happen, let alone in their own backyard. It may be a story the offender hopes won't get told - but if I'm contacted to write this story, I will write it and make this story public for the whole world to read. One such story was about a deaf boy being abused at his school. My editor read this story on her home computer then wrote back to tell me she couldn't believe it was happening. At the time I was writing this story, neither did I -- but there it was, complete with photos. And it made the front page.

If I can turn all of this negativity around and make it into an article, essay, story or poem that sells, you can do it, too. You don't need to be disabled to have material to write about; anything can give you the fuel you'll need to write with. If you get unfair treatment at a restaurant, write about it. If the school your child attends is in dire need of new equipment and books, write about it. If your best friend writes a book, then instead of sitting around and moping about how she beat you to it, write about it. Better yet, start working on your own.

You can take a bad situation, feeling or treatment and turn it into anything. If you experience betrayal in love, turn it into a poem and see where you can get it published. You can also turn it into a short story, essay or even an article (perhaps on coping techniques for dealing with a break-up?). But don't stop there; explore this topic further to see what other writing projects you can get out of it. Take the subject of being dumped: You can write about the coping techniques, worst ways a break-up happened, how hard it can be to get over someone who broke up with you and the best or worst break-up scenes in television programs. Another trick is to look at your experiences from a different angle. Separate yourself from it emotionally. You may be mad right now, but in order to write about this experience in an article that will sell, you need to step back and try to be objective. Say, for example, you get cheated by a scam. You can take this experience and investigate it, exposing this fraud in an article. An editor is bound to snatch it up and your ability to be objective will ensure your writing is clear, constructive - and clean.

Nobody wants experience negativity. But negativity is one factor that won't go away. It will come to us in the form of discrimination, unfair treatment, abuse, neglect, theft and even disease. They are an unfortunate part of life yet, as writers, we have the "power of the pen" to turn our anger over them around and make it into writing that sells. So the next time you get mistreated or discriminated against, don't get mad. Get writing - and selling.

© Copyright 2004, Dawn Colclasure

Dawn Colclasure continues to write about discrimination against the deaf in her articles for the newspaper SIGNews ( http://www.signews.org). She has also written various articles about writing for Writing-World, Worldwide Freelance Writer, Write From Home and Absolute Write. She's had work published in magazines such as Skyline Literary Magazine, Mothering and SUCCEED. Visit her on the Web at http://dmcwriter.tripod.com.

Other articles by Dawn Colclasure :

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