I use a mobility device.
I’m on the autism spectrum.
I manage mental illness, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.
I’m the creator of the Spoonies Authors Network and co-editor of the Nothing Without Us anthology.
A huge part of my existence is now about promoting the works and voices of disabled/Deaf/neurodiverse folks and those who manage mental illness.
Yet, I have this uncanny ability to forget that I am also disabled.
Let me clarify. I get massively excited about projects, either for work or in my homelife. My mind is super creative, and I want to do ALL THE THINGS! When the pitch for an anthology where all the protagonists would be disabled/Deaf was approved by Renaissance, I was over the moon! My co-editor Kohenet Talia C. Johnson came on board last summer, and I suggested we set the publishing date to be before Can-Con 2019 (in the month of October). So, our call for submissions would be September 30, 2018. My publisher warned us that a year—from asking for stories to having a finished product—was a tight deadline, but I was enthusiastic and insistent.
Just this week I said to Talia:
“Let’s do it by Can-Con, I said. It’ll be fun, I said!”
We had a right good cackle at that. The week before she sent me a GIF with two exhausted bears lying on the ground, giving each other a sleepy high-five.
I must say we did have a ton of fun this past 12 months and sometimes laughed until we cried, because she and I deal with pressure by letting our absurdist humour run wild. Truly, this anthology is nothing short of fantastic—our authors are über-talented humans who crafted brilliant stories. But holy moly-moly-moly, my brain is deep-fried right now.
So, while Talia and I planned a project schedule and pretty much adhered to it, we forgot to add one crucial thing—contingency for disability. Oops. That was sorta important. Sometimes we ran out of brain spoons; other times, our bodies required some Splat! periods. This was a huge lesson learned for me. Going forward, I need to remember that I (and any partners I have on a project, who manage chronic conditions) must build adequate rest time into our schedule. We have to allocate for spoons!
Also, I happen to have my second novel (The Stealth Lovers) coming out on the same day as the anthology (September 30, 2019). Going through all the editing and pre-publishing tasks for my own book and for Nothing Without Us took its toll on me. My brain didnae brain so good and my body went, “Nope!” This is the second lesson learned—I shall not work on two releases in the same year. (Some people who are Spoonies can do this, but not me. It’s such an individual thing.)
I will be okay, folks, but I’m going to rest for the next few weeks like I’m training for the Gold in Resting. I’ll take naps, get fresh air, exercise, eat well, and read for pleasure. I’ll do relaxing creative things. Maybe I’ll make more snarky t-shirts.
But I’ll also jot down what I’ve learned in a project post-mortem report.
I respect other people’s disabilities; I also need to respect my own. Health is #1.
I get it now. Honestly.
Narrator: She will probably forget this again, but she’ll keep trying.
Cait Gordon is the creator and editor-in-chief of the Spoonie Authors Network and is author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. Her short stories appear in Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland (Colleen Anderson, Exile Editions), We Shall Be Monsters (Derek Newman-Stille, Renaissance), and Space Opera Libretti (McNett and Rossman, coming soon). Teaming up with sensitivity editor Kohenet Talia C. Johnson, Cait is co-editor of the Nothing Without Us anthology, a collection of short stories that feature protagonists who identify as disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness.