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“You were wrong, but thanks for helping to motivate me” by John Duthie

purple faced john duthie - he painted his face purple in support of Dignity Party at a quiz night“The tree had caused a head injury, and it didn’t seem to me that John was able to think and function in the same way as he had done before the accident”.

This statement was made around 18 months after my accident, and I use it as motivation to achieve things in life. I wanted to prove them wrong. The truth is they had given up on me six months earlier. However, that is a story for my memoir.

One achievement was commencing a book project, a compilation of over 25 stories about people with disabilities. I shared the idea with my friend TM, and she was keen to help. Both of us experienced traumatic spinal injuries and spent time at Hampstead Rehabilitation Hospital. The book project jumped into my head as I completed reading my 25th book about people with disabilities. I felt the books lacked emotion, and didn’t share the issues faced by people in these circumstances. I wanted to give opportunities for people who usually wouldn’t get published, to share their stories.

TM and I created a plan and established a website presence, and gradually we received applications to join the book project. We now have over 45 team members and the stories cover the entire range of disabilities.

The book project presents challenges. Although experienced in running projects during my working career, I knew nothing about running a book project. How do we plan a book project? How do we market the book project to build a team? How do we attract team members? How do we find a publisher? How do we raise funds to help?

Before my accident, I knew little about disabilities. Now I am an expert. The main reason is that I was motivated to learn and to work hard. I feel that the same logic applies to the book project. In addition to learning how to run a book project, I gained knowledge of disabilities other than my paraplegia. The stories are incredible, and I look forward to seeing the books on sale in 2019.

Three goals I have achieved since my accident:

1) Running as a candidate for the Dignity Party in the South Australian election

2) Swimming 40 laps (1 kilometre)

3) Diploma in non-fiction writing and publishing.

Before my accident, I never would have considered running for parliament, swimming any more than two laps, and writing wasn’t on the cards, as I was a math and science type of person. I was now leading a book project, and the initial statement was looking ill-informed or a lie.

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