Entertainment & Culture

Disability and entertainment: fifty shades… of inspiration

Hayleigh Barclay is delighted to join in with Disability Horizons to offer a monthly article on entertainment. Hayleigh has a Masters in Creative Media Practises and is currently undertaking a Doctorate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and she’s going to use her expertise to open up the world of entertainment to Disability Horizon’s readers. This month, how inspiration can come to you at the most awkward times.


So far January has started out as a quiet month. I’ve not broken any New Year resolutions – mainly because I didn’t make any – I am not a quitter. Of course, residing in Scotland has meant that some traditions have had to be kept; steak pie for New Year’s dinner (turning vegetarian SHOULD have been my resolution, I can’t stand the stuff!); having the mobile pinging with a text every twenty minutes between midnight and eight in the morning because the phone networks are trying to catch up – ok that maybe a worldwide tradition; and of course, the weather… the obligatory pissing down with rain and grey skies that might as well have fifty shades in it for the amount of times the sight of it has slapped me on the arse and said Happy Bloody New Year!

On the positive side all this gloominess has helped to boost my creativity over the past few weeks. The weather, my dears, has been positively Gothic and as some of you may have noticed from the blurb at the top of each of my articles, I am in the middle of undertaking a Doctorate focusing on the Gothic genre. It’s almost as if the Universe has conspired to bring together the Bermuda Triangle, Armageddon and Wuthering Heights in an odd combination of weatherly inspiration.

Anyway… as the bulk of my studies comprises of me writing a novel I thought I would share some insight into how my physical limitations can have an impact upon the writing process. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for some depending on your literary taste) I will not be spilling any spoilers regarding the narrative of my book. Say it with me now, AWWWW! Bearing in mind I did mention Fifty Shades in the previous paragraph, perhaps it’s me holding the whip of discipline and not that grey sky, interesting…

Moving on swiftly. Throughout December I received a very early festive present of a chest infection – this was not on my wish list to Santa. For those of you who also have respiratory complications, you will know how frustrating and debilitating this can be. The nature of my condition results in the weakening of respiratory muscles which makes it near impossible for the mucus to be expelled through coughing. This means that for almost a fortnight my daily treatment comprised of three daily doses of antibiotics, a rotation between periods on a Nebuliser, a cough machine, a ventilator to help my body rest, and finally sessions of chest physio. Needless to say, I was knackered! To most people this ordeal may sound an extremely hard task, however the worst part was the boredom and not being able to write.

I rely upon a team of support workers to type whatever I dictate. However, as my voice sounded something like Darth Vader inhaling a helium balloon any attempt at freestyling some killer chapters would have been fruitless. I decided instead to become a classic Gothic heroine and remain in bed, forlorn and contemplating the end… of the chest infection.

It would seem that the Force was with me and that somewhere in a Galaxy far, far away (can anyone tell that Star Wars has recently been released?) someone had a cunning plan. Who would have thought that my battle with a chest infection would provide the inspiration and the opening paragraph for a creative writing essay I was due to hand in mid-January. Again, the whole scenario sounds very Gothic with the Heroine being tormented by unexplained forces and being saved by our Hero, Antibiotics, in order to fulfil her destiny, or am I just romanticising? Either way it’s Gothic!

So problem numero uno was thwarted. Yes, the whole dodgy immune system mixed with a relatively buggered up respiratory system was a pain, but if it gets the creative juices flowing, then I am willing to see rainbows and pixie dust.

Then comes problem numero dos – feeling self-conscious. Like I stated previously, in order for me to actually write I have to dictate to others exactly what I want written on the page. This means allowing my thought pattern to be revealed – out loud… for people to hear. Now may be a good time to say that some of my novel is dark, gory and a tad violent. No need to be afraid though, I have been told in the past that I am a lovely person in real life. I was however, at the time of being told this, dangling the person over the ledge of a building. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Getting back to my original point; it can be very nerve racking to give someone else a direct insight into your thought process. I actually had visions of me being sent to therapy or being asked by the care manager to desist in asking staff to type such scenes. Luckily, this has not happened yet. It turns out that the majority of people can see there is method in the madness and that the story is meant to entertain and mystify – not scare the shit out of people. Some people have said that it could actually be even more twisted and gory. I think I may be having some fun with this in the near future.

So it would seem that all the worry was all in my head, (oddly enough in the same space as my story. I’m telling you, Bermuda Triangle, Armageddon, Wuthering Heights, there’s something in it) but I’m not sure that I will ever fully get over that barrier. It’s something I can work on. Either way, the novel has to be completed and no doubt more challenges will arrive for me to tell you about.

Then all I have to think about is how to get through the editing, getting a publishing deal, the PR, the book tour, the autographs, the options for the movie, plus a ton of sequels… Oh, what joyous fun I shall have!

Until next time. . .

By Hayleigh Barclay

Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

Hayleigh Barclay

Graduated in 2019 with a Doctorate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Scottish based, usually plugged into her iPod or watching too many Viking documentaries.
Back to top button