Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not-so-great expectations

I like to think I am someone who won't be held back by my physical limitations. Because of my left hand being the way it is, I must type with one hand. Still, I type. Because of the third degree burn scars on my face, I must endure mean and disgusted looks from some people when I go out in public. Still, I go out in public.

But the biggest challenge for me is my deafness. Yes, I am deaf. Profoundly deaf. "Deaf as a post." LOL I don't wear a hearing aid because it hurts my one good ear. (My left ear was damaged and burned in the car accident I got my burns from.) I am going to try to find one that I can wear, though. Meantime, I don't wear one. I rely on lip-reading, sign language and written communication as a way to communicate with others. (Also, email, texting and online chatting.) I can talk just fine, and usually manage to get what I want to say across to others if I remember to speak loud enough. (That's a problem I've had for some time.)

It's just the receiving of communication from others that is the hard part. And this has been an even bigger challenge for me as far as being an author is concerned.

You hear so much about how authors must do all of these things to promote their books and themselves. And sadly, a lot of that "promotional pressure" emphasizes aspects of the hearing world. Radio interviews. Speaking engagements. Appearing on shows. Teaching workshops and giving lectures.

All of those things require you to be able to hear. Or, at least, competently communicate with others.

Fortunately, I am not yet at a point in my career where I need to stress out over things like that. I don't have to panic and try to find someone who can hear to tag along on all of those engagements. (I don't have one at the mo. All of my family lives far away.) But I know that time will come. And I also know I'm going to be tearing my hair out in trying to figure out HOW I will manage to do those things.

All of the people I work with -- editors and publishers -- know that I am deaf. (Though sometimes they forget.) And I usually make it clear that I am deaf if I have to. (When an interviewee says in an email that I can contact them by phone, I let them know first that I am deaf and must use a relay service. Some people are not comfortable with relay calls. Or they don't have the patience for one.)

And because they know that I am deaf, they probably understand that doing a speaking engagement or a radio interview would be a little difficult for me. It's not that I'm not willing to use whatever means necessary to promote my book(s). I'm all for the promotional stuff and do whatever I can fit into my chaotic life. But some things are just a little too undoable for me, a deaf person trying to fit into a hearing medium.

And then I think about the people who don't know that I am deaf. Literary agents I'm querying who are peeved I either don't answer the phone when it rings or that I don't provide a phone number. Or editors who give acceptances via a phone call. And when they can't contact me by phone....what then?

With any disability, we have to adapt. We have to change the way we see things and our expectations. We have to live our lives around our disabilities. But even still, there is only so much adaptation that we can do in the hearing world. There is only so much we are able to do. Whether or not editors and publishers are willing to make exceptions with a disabled person as far as promotional efforts are concerned remains to be seen.



  • At 8:48 PM , Blogger colbymarshall said...

    interesting post, Dawn. Definitely gives some insight...if anyone can do it, you can!

  • At 10:20 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    oh I already commented this at your other blog. Oh well. LOL

    Anyway you know what I thinks about it....go for that hearing aide pronto woman and just take the first step.

    And about promotional stuff...if your publisher believes in you they will have an interpreter for you, or you can always hire one yourself. No biggie there, I've seen this on shows where the spotlight person was deaf. No worries, you are the hardest working writer I know and you are working with less fingers less hearing, more things to deal with, girl you are superwoman and that is something people are gonna wanna know about.

  • At 11:12 PM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    Colby: Thank you. :) I'm glad it made you think!

    Nancy: I am DEFINITELY going to go after that hearing aid! I hope I go to the right places to get the info on it. Thank you so much for all of your support and kind words. You're a good friend!


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