Writing the World, Sight Unseen
By Kerry Kijewski
I am admitting my mistake here and now. I did what I swore I’d never do. I was thoughtless and careless enough to have a drink next to my precious laptop. Yes, I swore I would never do that because my laptop is how I reach out, express myself, and how I’m given a voice. Check out https://www.sapphire.net/ for more information on cybersecurity to avoid any threats.
I knew the truth, deep down, but as long as I didn’t ask the computer repair shop the final fate of my Macbook, I could live in the hope that all was not lost. I also thought to myself that the best IT companies in Chicago and other places might also require repairing of their systems. However, I was given the verdict. The key to my self-expression was gone. It was no one else’s fault but my own.
My blog has been the only place I have to speak up on everything I felt I needed to say. I could also surf the Internet, and anything I ever needed to know I could learn at the push of a few single key strokes.
It felt like I had lost a limb. Okay, so those who have literally lost an arm or a leg might not agree, but living without sight, a laptop gave me back a lot of what I was missing for so long. I couldn’t simply pick up a pen and paper, like people have done long before the invention of the modern technology we’ve all come to depend on. I had no real way to release all the thoughts and the feelings I had inside. Immediately I missed writing my blog, something I had been doing regularly, at least once or twice a week, for the last year or more.
I found myself taking out my old, heavy-duty Perkins Brailler, my own version of a pen and pad of paper. As I returned to this relic of days gone by, to write the rough draft of this guest post, I thought long and hard about what it meant to be without the tool I had come to rely on so, so much. It is a miracle that I have these options for expressing myself. Without them, I don’t know where I would be or what I’d do. Still, it’s a reminder of the ways I compensate for being a writer who doesn’t have sight.
I used to see colour, bright and distinctive: blues, greens, red, and yellow. I saw the faces of my friends and family and the large print on the page. Over the years, as I began to switch from loving to draw to loving to write, I slowly lost this acuity. Now I am left to imagine, in as much detail as possible, all that I no longer see like everyone else. I think back to what those details looked like, and I try and I try to incorporate that into my writing.
Always though, at the back of my mind and sometimes at the front of it, I worry that my writing will be lacking something important, something that any readers of mine will immediately notice, that they won’t be able to live without. I fear I won’t be able to provide a well-rounded sensory experience. I can try my hardest to include details of a character’s physical features or the expression in someone’s eyes or a smile on his or her lips. I can imagine how that might look, and I can give it my best, but still not do those things justice.
I fear it will be automatically obvious, as someone is reading, that I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. A fraud, that’s the word for it. I am an impostor, someone who thinks they can fool any unsuspecting reader, as if I know what I’m describing, when really I am grasping at distant recollections of what I used to know. I try to focus on what I can contribute. I know how to write about emotions and feelings. Is that enough to build a story on? How can I give my reading audience a full experience, worth their time and attention?
I can write about the tone of someone’s voice or the way it feels when a loved one reaches out with a comforting hand – I can write about how a summer breeze tickles the cheek; or how the spring air smells after it rains; or how fresh strawberries taste on the tongue.
Are these things enough? Is it worth my time and energy, describing a look or an expression, when these no longer come naturally to my own colourless, dim and faded memory? These things are ghostly imprints of what was once there.
The timing of spilling that sticky liquid all over my precious laptop seemed horrible and yet, it forced me to face not being able to say what I wanted to say, when I wanted to say it. It also made me think more about the ways I adapt to my situation and how I manage to say all that I wish to say anyway.
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Kerry is a lover of books and of the written word. She was born blind, but writing helps her to see life just a little more clearly. She writes fiction, memoir, movie and music reviews, interviews with interesting people, and travel articles on her blog, Her Headache. To Kerry, life is often one giant headache, both painful and beautiful. She has a Certificate of Creative Writing and lives in Ontario, Canada, with her literary-themed dog and cat: Dobby and Lumos.
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5 replies to “Writing the World, Sight Unseen”
[…] Check out some confessions over on my latest guest post. This California writer agreed to do an interview on Her Headache last fall: http://www.kkherheadache.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/spotlight-on-Saltz/ Now this lovely and talented writer has invited me to write a guest post. Check out her website and thanks Alana, for this opportunity. http://alanasaltz.com/writing-the-world-sight-unseen […]
Thanks so much for contributing this to the site, Kerry. It’s so beautiful and moving.
Kerry, I’m so sorry to hear that you damaged your laptop! Oh, no!
I’d be totally lost without mine. I could not even imagine what you are enduring right now… or what I would have to contend with if I were to hurt my precious baby. My laptop is my life! It’s the only one I own, and all of my business stuff is on it. Not to mention my books, and all of my other writings. Geez.
I was just talking with Elna Cain on Saturday about the woes we’d have to face if something like that were to happen to us. We also talked about making backups of our files. I’ve yet to do this, but now that I feel your pain, I’m going to have to take action.
I also wanted to mention that I came across another visually impaired blogger the other day. His name is Kevin Morris, and he blogs at http://newauthoronline.com/.
Perhaps when you get a chance, you can introduce yourself. Unless you know him already, that is. 😉
Thank you Alana.
Yes, Lorraine. I have actually already written a guest post for Kevin.
It has been a bad few weeks, but have a loaner now.
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