Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres — Milan’s premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade.
Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin.
But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again–this time for good.
—This answer is formed from just how I would respond to a question from the crowd at a reading—some parent sitting beside their obviously distressed teenager, who is too shy to ask for themselves, and who clearly has a fight of some kind ahead of them—with depression, or gender, or disability, or something. The parent asks, “Do you have any advice for young writers?”—clearly meaning the kid sitting beside them.
Yes. I do.
First of all, write. Write because it will save lives. I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean that if LeGuin hadn’t written A Wizard of Earthsea, Craighead George hadn’t written Julie of the Wolves, (even with that ending she wasn’t satisfied with) and Austen hadn’t written Mansfield Park, I’d probably be dead. Write so that people who look like you or feel like you or both can see that you’re doing it, and be inspired.
Second, don’t worry too much about writing what you know, unless you can’t find any books about what your life is like. If you’re the first Sherman Alexie, that’s amazing and enormously important. If no-one has ever heard of what you live with, write about it. But also write what you want to write, because it’s really important for us to see people of all kinds doing different things—Native writers writing about bunnies in space, disabled writers like me writing about demons, writers who are fighting eating disorders writing about pirate ships.
Yes, you heard me. I’m disabled. You can’t see it. I have fibromyalgia, and RSI in both hands (mostly healed). And maybe you’re disabled, too, and people can’t see it. Or they can and they act like Martians around you. Don’t let it define you: find the workarounds. My hands didn’t work so I figured out how to use speech software and convinced a very sweet boyfriend to build me a computer that could run it, back in the days when desktops were king and had really noisy components that interfered with soundcards. Educate people. Learn how to choose friends of good character and keep them, and create a cheering squad for yourself (make sure you cheer each other on—see friends of good character).
Take care of yourself. For one thing, each day take a look at the good things you do; recite them to yourself, to learn your worth in a concrete way. Today, for example, I wrote some blog posts that I hope will inspire people. I told my daughter I loved her, I held her, I taught her how to turn on her tiny new flashlight. I helped a martial artist in my aikido class learn a new technique. I set a dinner date with an old friend who’s going through a divorce. Doesn’t matter how small. Recite it, remember it. Teach yourself your worth: it is there, waiting for you. It’s hiding in your everyday actions.
Remember the important stories. When I was first disabled at twenty-nine I remembered how my great-grandfather went blind as an adult. He suddenly couldn’t see, and he had to ask his ten-year-old son to take the wheel of his Model T. He didn’t take this lying down, though. He invented gadgets around the house, built them by feel, to make his life easier and lessen his dependence on his wife and children. He also invented a prototype Braille typewriter that’s in the town museum in Marion, Iowa, where he lived. This story from my family inspired me and probably saved my life. Think of the stories you know, about the people you’re descended from, or the people you admire. Pick the ones that inspire you. Re-tell them to yourself and others.
Take care of your body. Everyone can move in some way, even if they need help to do it. Do something you love. Learn what foods make you feel good, keep you healthy and strong, and taste good, and learn to make them. For a long time I couldn’t really do a lot in the kitchen, so a friend made up recipes with really simple prep that tasted amazing, and I learned how to improvise from them.
And write. Write to learn how to be a better writer, to ease your heart, to bring light into the world, to help us all face our fears.
Okay, thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch with me at my blog, “The Real Money’s In Poetry,” over at www.katspaw.com. Have a wonderful day!
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