My passion for writing has been under the surface most of my life. But it wasn’t until I broke my leg severely, and was laid up for three months, that it all started coming together. Writing was all I had to do, it was all that I could do, it was all that I wanted to do.
I knew that writing — and learning how to do it and improving my craft — would be a long process, much longer than it would take for my leg to heal. In fact, I have come to learn that with writing, unlike a broken leg and intensive rehabilitation, there is no finish line — a writer is never done. Every story is a new beginning and takes on a life of its own; every article, when you go back a week later, can be tweaked.
My leg may have unleashed my creative juices, but until they began flowing to and through my heart, I really don’t think I was ready to say what I had to say. My writing has given me a deeper sense of purpose and I hope has inspired my readers. At times, I feel insecure — am I really saying anything? Is it of value? But something within me keeps pushing me forward.
For me, the writing process — the challenge of turning inward and then taking my insights and sharing them with others — has demanded a deeper level of introspection. What would be my topic? My genre? What would I have to say that others might find interesting, maybe even helpful?
This searching, uncomfortable at times, has led me to an awareness; a deeper understanding of how I have come to view the world as the dad of a special needs son. My son is the light of my life. He is the essence of my being, and now, thanks to the “blessing” of a broken leg, the time has come for me to frame my thoughts within written words.
I know the joys, challenges and burdens that face parents of special needs children. I can see and feel what these parents feel, understand the challenges these parents face, relate to their hopes and desires for their kids, and, most of all, understand how even amid their confusion and frustration, they never flinch in their love for their children.
My first story appeared in Birmingham’s WELD newspaper. It was about being caught in a Capitol Hill shooting in Washington, DC, with my wife and son, and needing to protect him amid the gunfire and chaos. It was at that moment, that I realized for sure, that I would give my life to protect him. The feedback from this piece was amazing. I got a lot of “wows” from people I wouldn’t have expected.
It was clear to me that this article gave extended family members and friends a deeper understanding of not only how much I loved my son, but also how challenging it can be to raise a special needs child. People I never expected to hear from wrote me emotional emails, saying that it was well done. Having this story published opened my eyes to the sensitivity of others, put special needs kids on a lot of radar screens, and, equally important, gave me insight into the burdens of those who became more open with me. People shared with me things I never knew about them.
Here is one example of the feedback I received: “As a father, I completely understand your love and willingness to give your life to protect your child,” one person wrote adding, "My sister has a special needs son, and he is a blessing to our entire family. God truly has special ways to bless us! Thanks again for sharing."
The responses to the WELD posting, the additional blog pieces I have written, and another story that appeared a few days ago in the Over The Mountain Journal, have fueled the fire of what I want to do. Is ego involved? Yes, I admit it. But that’s not the driving force; at least I don’t think so. I believe the driving force is passion. I have become passionate about supporting other parents of special needs kids and sensitizing all people to the challenges that such families face.
Now let me go back to the beginning, something I didn’t mention. A good friend had asked me, “Trotter, what does your writing mean to you and what have you gotten from it?”
The above is the answer.