top of page

Breath & Shadow

Fall 2020 - Vol. 17, Issue 4

"Writing to Be Free and Understood"

written by

Chris Kuell

“As you go through life, decide if it’s truly all about yourself, or if it’s about showing others something from a new perspective.” – Erin M. Kelly

Back in my first semester of college, I got into the habit of eating lunch by myself in the closest dining hall that made a reasonably good burger. I’m an introvert, so this was fine with me. About three weeks in, a guy named Robert that I went to high school with asked if he could join me. Robert and I had taken one or two classes together in high school, so we knew each other, but weren’t friends. Over the course of that semester we got to know each other, and I learned that this guy who I’d never given a second thought, was actually a very deep thinker and fascinating person.

I was reminded of Robert as I read through Erin Kelly’s autobiography. I first met Erin after she’d written a review of the Breath and Shadow anthology, Dozen, for Wordgathering

She demonstrated excellent writing skills and insights, so I asked her to do a review for us, and she’s done several since.

In her book, she shares with the reader the journey of her life thus far—the highs and the lows, the obstacles and the exhaustion from always having to work harder, and the joy one feels from seeing that hard work come to fruition. We meet her family, experience good and bad friendships and teachers, watching as she moves through life in her own unique way. Honestly, though—this is what I expect from any reasonably well-written autobiography. What I particularly enjoyed about WriterWheels’ is the positivity despite the hurdles, as voiced in the subtitle ‘Can’t Is A Bad Word’. that’s an adage we in the disability community hear often, but Erin not only believes it, she lives it. Just read about her high school graduation and her senior college project if you have any doubts about her determination.

A large theme in the book is Erin’s quest to be a writer of consequence. Sure she has a strong desire to be published, but even more so, she wants to say something that will stick with her readers and make them think. Underneath all the hats she wears along her life journey is a philosopher’s cap. Rather than raging or whining about the never-ending challenges or unfairness in life, she is very circumspect about the larger picture, and she does a good job of engaging the reader in her reflective process.

“Whatever your wealth is, share it. Don’t hide it. It may not seem like much to you, but it could prove to be more than enough for someone else.”

The title of her newspaper column is ‘The View from Here’, and it’s an excellent descriptor of her approach to her work. With chapters on meaningful friendships, potential, technology, humor and laughter, the power of determination and much more, ‘Resilient WriterWheels’ is an empowering and worthwhile read.

“It doesn’t matter where you start out in life, or how long your journey takes. What matters is you find a light at the end of the darkest tunnel and follow it all the way to your destination.”  - Erin M. Kelly

The Resilient WriterWheels: Can't Is A Bad Word / Erin M. Kelly. Lasting Impact Press, 2020 (222 pages)

Chris Kuell is the editor of Breath and Shadow. His short fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in a number of literary, and some not-so-literary journals and magazines.

bottom of page