Writing about your own life is a nostalgic journey back in time, it is rubbing salt into old wounds, it is music that brings back happy memories. Putting the words down on paper makes you realise that it is all true, that it actually happened. It is like a fairytale waiting for an ending to be written, where every page gives you something.
Writing a book
Not everyone who writes well or loves writing makes the effort to put together all the pages to form a book and, even if they do, the road between an idea, putting it down on paper and publication is akin to walking across the desert in high heels.
When I was a little girl…
When I was a little girl dreaming about the future, as every child does, I imagined my adult self as Jessica Fletcher, not discovering dead bodies, but living in symbiosis with my typewriter, with a successful book written by me lying on the bedside table. I am not exactly sure whether I have achieved the second part of my dream, and it is not my place to say so, but that book really exists now, it is pink and it has been in bookshops since 26 March this year.
“Another year, another mishap”
It is entitled “Un altro (d)anno” (roughly translated “Another year, another mishap”), it is pink, it weights 408 grams, is 240 pages long and in extremely good health. It resembles me in the intractable parts, but it is also soft to the touch and in telling the story of the thirty-six years of my life, spread over twelve months of a slightly uneven year. Each chapter is not just a calendar month, but a journey to another world, where any person, whether sitting, lying down, standing or slantwise, will recognise themselves.
The world of disability from a different viewpoint
It is not a manual, and does not claim to be one, but, while I was writing it, I was thinking of it as an inspiration for someone who needs to let go of the edge of the swimming pool and start to swim. It is not even full of self-esteem, and there are many pages that tell precisely the opposite story, but it is certainly a look at the world of disability from a different viewpoint, playing a different tune to the usual round of clichés that imprison our society.
Writing a book is like giving birth (not that I’m an expert in such things, thank goodness!), it is bringing something into the world that, up until that moment, was yours and yours alone, helping it to grow and face the world and its judgements.
A new idea of disability
In the 240 pages of the book, I have examined a huge range of day-to-day issues that clash with the idea of disability that we continue to espouse: from inclusion, to bullying, the family that held together, unconventional love, sex as a right and not a physical obligation, sexual assistance, architectural barriers and the culture of dependency. I don’t think I left out any ingredients to make it appetising, although hard to digest at times, and this little pile of paper and ink is the source of immense satisfaction for me.
Bringing my book to people during the presentations around Italy meant that it never had an ending, as each person took home a different meaning to it. It still has many miles to cover. I would like to bring it into our schools, where the adults of the future sit, among students who are learning something, not just how to get on with life.
Until I have put the full stop on the last page, “Un altro (d)anno” will really be its title, but it will be transformed into a gift.