Earlier this week I was interviewed on a local radio station. I thought I would share some of the interesting questions, as well as my answers with you all…
Why and how did you become a writer?
I was never satisfied with the things that I had found myself doing in my career. For as long as I can remember, I have known that one day I would write. I knew that I wanted to and planned to become a travel and adventure writer, I just never imagined that I would become a Blind Travel and Adventure writer.
Becoming a writer is the easy part. It is so simple. You write down some words and guess what? You are a writer. Obviously getting your words published and read is a totally different challenge.
What lessons have you learned since loosing your eyesight?
There are so many, but here are some that jump to mind…
TRUST… I had to accept that if I was going to survive, I would need to find and surround myself with only people who I could trust. Blindness forced me to very quickly learn who these people are. Life has a way of cleaning up its own paths and my lesson was hard but clear. Anyone who did not show character traits that I value to have as my own was purged out of my life. This was not easy, but essential if I was going to move forward in this new dark world and find some comfort. People show their true colours in times of hardship. The ones who are at your side through the obstacles are probably the ones who you will want to keep around and trust.
PATIENCE… Something I have never been very good at. I have had to learn to wait patiently for help. It has been so frustrating for me to sit and wait when I just want to go and do and get on with life.
APPRECIATION… I do not for a second take anything or anyone for granted. I truly appreciate the time and effort that people afford me. I try to thank them more than necessary and remind both them and myself how important they are to me.
LISTEN… Living without my sight has taught me to use my other senses in a more focused way. By listening to the sounds that are thrown at me, I have learnt to draw a picture of what is happening in my surroundings. People communicate firstly through vision. Stopping to hear a person’s words properly can make all the difference to whether I understand something only partly or totally. If I do not hear what someone has said clearly, I ask them to repeat it clearly. I make sure to listen and comprehend every word as well as tone. In my humble opinion learning to listen better can be as much of an asset to both the sighted and us people who are forced to live in the dark.
FOCUS… When I go into a shop with a list of 5 items, I come out with just those 5 items. Going in with my partner, and we inevitably leave with a trolley loaded with other things that have caught her attention. This applies to tasks as well. A blind person is a great person to employ. We don’t get easily distracted by stuff that catches the eyes of the sighted. We focus and simply get the job done. Given the right tools and accessibility a visually impaired person can really be a focused and dedicated individual as well as a massive asset in the workplace.
PERSEVERANCE… This lesson took me the longest to learn – Never give up. Some mountains will seem impossible to climb and obstacles can appear so difficult to overcome. Just keep trying and everything can be overcome. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
What authors and books do you read for inspiration? What have you read recently and what are your favourite reads?
I will talk about 3 here.
My favourite book is ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay. I have read this book more times than I will admit to as it always takes me to a different world. It is a wonderful coming of age story filled with life lessons and is beautifully descriptive. This will always be my top read and the first book I recommend to anyone who has not discovered this author yet. The follow up called ‘Tandia’ is also brilliant. Every person who is not yet addicted to books and reading will find themselves so captured in this story that reading will become a habit for life. You will thank me later.
Next is the Author that inspires me most to get writing. Bill Bryson fills this void. Whenever I need to find words due to a mild case of writer’s block, I listen to some of his writings. It does not really matter which of his travel books you read, they are all brilliant and told in a humorous and down to earth way that really appeals to me. Perhaps I am somewhat biased as Mr Bryson writes in the same genre as myself, but Billy boy really captures my interest on so many levels. My favourites are ‘Notes from a big world’, ‘A walk in the woods’ and ‘Down under’, but there are really no bad reads from this author. His travels are open minded and interesting, sarcastic and witty. I will say it again. When I need to get the writing juices flowing, I read a Bill Bryson page or two
Finally, I just listened to an audio book read by the author himself and found myself totally entranced. The book was a story by author Sam Manicom called ‘Into Africa’. This is the tale of Sam’s journey through Africa on his motorcycle. He has such interesting and descriptive way of writing about his daily adventures that I found myself unable to stop listening. I later sent a chirp to Sam, reprimanding him for keeping me awake for a week while I listened to his story. That was a couple of months ago and since then, I have listened again to this adventure a further 3 times. I hope that I too can learn the skill of transferring my readers into the epicenter of my stories as Sam has done for me.
I am busy writing about my journey from Cape Town to Dublin by Scooter. This adventure tells the story of my travels and how I eventually lost my eyesight after contracting a virus that destroyed the light receptor cells on my retinas and almost cost me my life. I hope that I can tell my story in a way that is even remotely as expressive and captivating as these three favourite writing heroes of mine.
People have asked me why it is taking so long to complete my book and I think I better give a few reasons here to try and justify the tardiness. Firstly my health issues impacted my energy levels severely and for 6 months I could barely get out of bed on my own. As I started to recover, the next obstacle was learning to type with a voice over programme. There are also the challenges of researching info that a sighted person could simply do as well as reading maps and reference checking old emails and notes. It has been a massive obstacle course, but every day gets a little easier. At times the challenges have felt insurmountable and the roads available to me just seemed impassable. I am now getting there and the tale of a crazy scooter guy will get done. This story is just too good to not be told.