A few things you may not know about my debut book
As I write this, my book, Stumbling Through Space and Time: Living Life With Dyspraxia, is just a week away from its official release (September 21, 2022). So I thought now was the best time to share some fun facts about the book itself.
1)The motivation behind the book itself
Just like a lot of books about disability lived experiences, this book didn’t come from the easiest of places.
In fact, it was actually born from a place of immense frustration. I am very grateful I was diagnosed when I was, but Canada was a very lonely place to grow up with a dyspraxia diagnosis. No one really understood it for such a long time, including a large percentage of the medical practitioners I came across.
Plus, have you ever tried explaining what’s going on inside your own head to someone who hasn’t experienced the same thing? It is really, really difficult. Eventually, I got so fed up with being misunderstood that I decided to commit myself to write all the important parts down. It was really hard, despite years of experience with writing. I felt like giving up on it so many times, but something very stubborn and powerful inside me wasn’t going to let that happen. I wanted to help people understand something I had lived with for so long, and that felt so important I wasn’t willing to give up.
2)What you might not know about the title
When I did my first cover reveal, this was 1 of my favourite reactions I got on social media:
As much as I loved that response, it was not my original intention with the title.
It’s actually a theme that came up a lot when I used to keep a diary…
A tool that really made a huge difference for me when I was just learning how to self-advocate was diary writing.
In fact, some of those passages were used in the book itself because a lot of what I wrote provided so much insight into my journey toward getting to know my own brain a whole lot better.
The most common theme that came up was this emphasis on “stumbling through space and time”. I felt like I was stumbling because I was struggling to plan around the limitation of my environment a lot of my environment on a regular basis. What amazed me, though, was that I would find a way to stumble to where I needed to be no matter how awkward, stuck in a daydream, or late I had to be. When a few of my Twitter followers started to tell me:
Yeah, I’m a stumbler too!
I felt like I had come up with something that could very easily catch on as a relatable concept to so much more than just me.
3. The first draft was about nothing but personal reflection
What is now the first two chapters was actually me trying to squeeze together as many of my early post-diagnosis memories together as possible.
I originally started doing that because the feelings of isolation from being in a small apartment during lockdown were starting to kick in, and I wanted to write something reminding me of how far I had come in life.
What I didn’t know back then is that this momentary bit of personal therapy and reflection would turn into a publishable novel.
I took the unedited first chapter to a non-fiction writing group in my hometown, and a group of writers had a lot of thought-provoking things to say about what it meant to them. I was so inspired by their feedback that I could not let this book go.
What started as a quick bit of writing for therapy turned into something much bigger that included research and conversations with other dyspraxics and people who remember my early years of diagnosis. I grew a lot as a person once the book started to evolve because I was also seeing medical and academic documents I had never seen before. Once I saw the mountain of paperwork, so many things that felt mysterious about how I interact with the world finally made sense.
4. I heard the word no a lot before I found the right home for my book
In just a year of querying, I pitched over 90 different agents and publishers. That process was brutal and difficult, but looking back, there were so many rejections that were actually a blessing in disguise.
I tried to get my book a publisher at a time when everyone in the arts wanted and craved the idea of diversity, but they were unsure how to pull it off in a genuine way that made people not feel like a token, well…anything.
I pitched so many people who claimed to want more neurodivergent and disabled perspectives only to find out I wasn’t their idea of what that should look like. If they had said yes, the relationship wouldn’t have worked because they would try so hard to mould me into something I’m not. That wouldn’t have been great because being authentic, real, and non-token about dyspraxia is one of my most important goals of my book.
The reason why I wanted to end on this note is that we still have a very serious representation of neurodivergent people in the publishing world problem. It’s not that we don’t have any neurodivergent authors, it’s that we don’t have enough stories representing neurodivergence in a fair, honest, yet also positive light.
To solve this problem, we have to talk to actually neurodivergent people about what we’re getting right or wrong about the querying process. We also have to correct all biases about what neurodivergence is or isn’t. Until we work on this problem, this issue will linger, and we’ll alienate neurodivergent readers as well. That is not a good thing because the current estimated global number of neurodivergent people is 10–20%. That’s significant enough that this is a demographic you cannot ignore. And if you’re one of many of the neurodivergent writers currently in the querying trenches, I hope my required number of rejections to get an offer I am happy with persuades you not to give up on trying.
If everything I just mentioned sounds interesting to you…
You can pre-order your copy of Stumbling Through Space and Time: Living Life With Dyspraxia on Amazon, Bookshelf.org, Goodreads, a long list of bookstore chains, and in a lot of indie bookstores as well.
If you do that now, your copy will show up at your requested address on or soon after launch day. Writing can be a lonely endeavour, and this book was so hard to write that I felt like giving up on it so many times. To all who talked me out of giving up, I appreciate you and am more grateful for your words and actions than it might immediately seem.