American Expert with Ted Baxter, Award Winning Author and Stroke Survivor
1. What made you decide to write your book?
-Making A Valuable Contribution To My World
To inform and educate the reader on the terms of stroke and aphasia. My sudden tragedy was extremely sad, and frustrating, wondering whether I could deal with extremely adverse situations, and I had to contemplate whether I can get back to loving life again just before I experienced the stroke. You can gain from this situation to an extent where you would never believe it until you actually experience it yourself or you can read a diary like this book. This book gave me a life purpose: to come back to society and share my experiences with the reader and help people.
One of the greatest satisfactions comes from me to actually writing a book with complete sentences, 100% comprehension, etc. when I had been through the experience of having a stroke and aphasia which means my writing and speaking skills were wiped out — I couldn’t even write on a scribble of a note after I had my stroke. For me, it would have been OK if I wrote the entire book to solely prove that I could make it back from this tragedy. And if you had been through a similar terrible incident, then, you too can make it back! Using my book, I can inspire and motivate people by learning and listening to my stories and then relating your stories and perhaps you can do something that you didn’t know before.
Another reason I wrote this book is that it provides opportunities for me to write and speak on something on a subject that is important to me. It allows me to showcase my knowledge and experience of this topic matter.
In addition to reading the enjoyment of my book, it would give you a stroke or aphasia “handbook” of how I came back to the community and maybe that resonates with you in your life. That is why I urge you to write a book. Not only will you educate others, but you will learn something about yourself. Your message matters, and it will live on forever.
2. Is the writing process more complicated than you thought it would be?
- Yes, because, at first, I couldn’t really write sentences with the words, vocabulary, and feelings because I needed to re-learn English because of my stroke and now aphasia. As a stroke survivor and a person with aphasia, I remembered that I had lost patches of my short-term memory or something was blocking for memory. This is why it took me a long-time to write the book entirely — over the 5-year duration, my memory came back gradually and I could really add content, names of characters, and the feelings that goes with that.
It took a long time to really master each chapter regarding what I wanted to say and what I have been through for the reader to actually felt it as he/she reads it. On the positive side, it taught me how to use the English “handbook” again — and increased my writing skills which in turn — had a positive effect on my speaking!
What has been the reaction to the book?
- Unbelievable. There were many readers who commented on the fact that they had a better appreciation of what a person, like me, is, and having through a terrible tragedy like that and the challenges that I had to deal with is incredible. I was glad that I can provide some hope, some actual experiences from my book, and tips and techniques that I conquer each of the adverse things. I have been blessed with several people who read my book and provided comments like:
o Keep going!
o Your determination and willpower are clear! Bravo!
o When are you writing your second book?
o It’s a great reference for people who had strokes, aphasia, and even the caregivers
o Great appendix with you developing a master recovery plan and great tips you used to rehab yourself and recovery
o He referred to key concepts and terms throughout his book like acceptance, positive mindset, hope, resiliency, practice, creativity, always learning
3. Do you intend to write another book?
- Not really per se but I decided to pursue a different path. Create a nonprofit business which is called Speech Recovery Pathways (SRP). SRP has its mission:
o To support the ongoing need for adults with stroke or brain injury to have regular access to meaningful communication practice and opportunities to reintegrate into the community. Provide constant communication practice, build confidence, and connect survivors to talk.
o So far, in its third year, SRP is comprised of an expert speech-language pathologist, me, a number of college volunteers who eventually, would be therapists, and 55–60 stroke survivors.
o Our services include group sessions and attendance in a book club. Each of the services is provided online every Wed and Fri using a computer with Zoom as the application.
I am looking into taking my book and transferring it into a real reference point or student guide for people who just had a stroke and/or aphasia similar to mine and they are trying to get communication better. In essence, SRP takes the place of writing another book plus doing speaking engagements — it’s very similar.
4. What encouragement would you offer to someone considering the book-writing journey?
My advice is to start by maintaining a positive attitude and having faith. Without these, you will never have a successful outcome for your book. Really do your research and contemplate why YOU decided to write a book. Find a mentor who can be a sounding board for your ideas and questions during your writing and editing stages. If you are developing a memoir, take your time and make sure you get all the facts down. Then you could send it, in the draft, as the entire book or piecemeal, to a friend or a couple of people just to get their take on your style, content, feeling, etc. by reading your prose.
Please — considering that you’re not going to be the next Stephen King author, do not write a book with the intent to gain a profit. It’s a labor of love and you need to have a real passion for the topic, the content provides a book that a reader could learn from. These are some of the reasons why you decided to write. You need to really love the content, characters, the feeling that you get to write the book, and the overall satisfaction.
- Never give up searching to find the right path to pursue your writing, write it down, and tell your readers about it. For me, it was a lot of speaking and telling audiences why I decide to write this book. And sometimes, you should laugh at yourself — it’s good for your soul!