I learned to be a writer by being around other writers. Through workshops offered through the San Francisco literary nonprofit Litquake, Meetup.com, and Craigslist, I met other people who had stories to tell and, like myself, were eager to pen their first book. It was at one of those early writing classes that I learned about graduate writing programs, and decided to make the two-year commitment to being a full-time student.
In grad school, I learned how to take in criticism, as well as to write under deadlines. I also discovered I do my best writing in the morning and that poetry does not come to me as easy as prose.
While my Masters in creative writing gave me the tools to start my writing career, a year after completing my degree, I felt as though there was something missing in my writing regimen. It was not until I came across the announcement for the Lambda Literary Fellowship for LGBT writers that I recognized what was missing.
As a Jewish and Latin writer, I found plenty of support in writing groups in and out of class; however, as the only gay dude in my writing program, I did not get much feedback.
My Lambda experience was life-changing. Not only did I begin to understand the importance of having the right advice for my work, it also taught me about the importance of writing in community.
I took the Lambda experience and looked for other writers with disabilities to review my work. It was at this point in my career that I began to better understand the disability narrative, and was able to figure out how I want to write about my blindness.
More often than not, the stories of people with disabilities are told for us, not by us. I am launching Oleb Books because I want to give writers with disability an opportunity to work with editors and publishing professionals with disabilities that will help them to tell their stories.