I recently learned, on one of my lists, about an author acquaintance who just three weeks ago went blind. I don't know the details, although I gather he was very ill. It doesn't really matter. What's important to me is the fact that he's still writing!
In less than a month, he has managed to find the necessary tools (dictation software, screen reader software, and so on) and has learned to use them. He jokes that the dictation software doesn't really understand his accent, and bemoans the fact that his output has dropped from 12,000 words a day to a couple of thousand, but he's still putting out his books. And his general attitude, at least from what he has shared publicly, is one of hope and gratitude - gratitude that he can continue to follow his passion even in the face of this setback.
His story awes me. I'm amazed and humbled by his courage and strength. And it started me thinking (not surprisingly) about how I'd react, if the same misfortune befell me. I hate to say it, but I'd probably rant and scream, or sink into a deep depression. Either way, I'd make my poor husband's life a hell, with my self-pity and demands for attention.
Of course, that would just be a phase. I'm the practical sort and I probably would pull myself up out of the dumps eventually. I'd try to figure out how to adjust my working methods to deal with my new disability.
I've tried to imagine speaking my books instead of typing them and reviewing them on the screen. It occurs to me that my writing might actually improve if I heard it rather than saw it. I've always been sensitive to the rhythm and cadence of my sentences, but sometimes when I'm rushing to meet a deadline, I don't bother to mentally read my words aloud.
Then I considered what it would be like to really visualize my characters and settings, without any interference or distraction from scenes in the outside world. I normally have pretty clear pictures of places, but less vivid images of people. Perhaps, if I were blind, that would change, as I played out my stories on the screen of my mind.
Maybe, just maybe, a new approach would bring some freshness to my writing. Sometimes, these days, I feel rather stale, to be honest. I had the bizarre idea that perhaps I should try writing blindfold, to see what would happen.
Of course, these were just mental experiments. My colleague's challenge got me thinking about how fortunate I am - but also reminded me that there are positive sides to even the worst events. I don't know him well enough to share the insights his story has triggered, but he has me seeing things in a new way. And I'm grateful.