Strange events have lead up to this moment. I sit here writing what will probably be my last story, in a most unconventional way, but I have to get this down, people have to know what happened to me.
I’m a writer. I’ve written several best selling novels and several not-so-good ones. Chances are you’ve read a couple or seen the movies that were based on them. Every one of them was written the old fashioned way, with a pencil and a stack of legal pads. So when I started losing my sight about 2 years ago, I had to look into new methods of writing. I took a typing class. You don’t need sight to type, as long as you can find the home keys and have someone to proof read and make any necessary corrections.
I started typing before I lost my sight wholly, to get in a little practice. I found I rather enjoyed typing my novels. I wrote two in the first 4 months I was using the computer. Imagine my joy at not having to pause my writing because of terrible hand cramps and wrist pain. It made me wish that I’d considered typing sooner. How much more would my readers have been able to enjoy? The wrist problems I developed handwriting so many novels don’t matter now, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
For a year, I was able to type the stories out of my head, and my production was higher than it’s ever been – not to mention the quality. It made me feel like nothing could stop me. My sight was gone completely by the end of the 3rd month, but it didn’t matter. I had found a new way to get my story on paper, and keep the magic flowing.
About a year after my sight completely disappeared, on the way to the grocery store, our car was struck by another vehicle on the passenger side. My wife escaped without injury, much to my relief. I, however, suffered the loss of my right arm at the elbow, and 3 fingers on my left hand, a setback that left typing out of the question. I spent the weeks I was recovering from my injuries trying to think of another way to keep writing. I couldn’t come up with a single viable option, which for the record can cause a man great distress.
I’d just about given up all hope of writing again, when a woman interviewing me about an upcoming book release gave me the simplest solution. She said upon sitting across the table from me, “Do you mind if I record this interview for accuracy?” Such a simple solution, and it somehow managed to elude me. A tape recorder and as many tapes as it took. I could dictate my novels and hire someone to transcribe them. I still had enough use of my left hand to operate a tape recorder. They sell a special one for blind students to record lessons, it indicates when the tape is about to run out, so I bought that one.
My wife helped me set up everyday. She’s a tremendously supportive woman. With tapes numbered and stacked in order on the left side of the recorder, I was ready to begin. As long as I flipped or changed the tape when the recorder beeped, and put the used tapes on the right of the recorder I would be fine. And I was.
The first book was slow; it took some time to get a rhythm and flow going. Dictating a novel isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds. The first one took 5 months, and it wasn’t very good. The second one was better, but it still took about 3 months to get it out. I got about halfway thru the third one before I was diagnosed with cancer.
Years of smoking and drinking finally took its toll. My vocal chords and tongue were riddled with tumors. Surgery left me unable to speak without mechanical assistance, and that doesn’t record very well.
I can’t help but think that some force somewhere does not want me writing anymore. My blindness, the initial problem, came on so fast. There were no warning signs, I have never worn glasses, never had a bad eye exam. Then there was the accident, and the cancer. It is so much in such a short time. I have no doubt that this will be my last story. It’s ironic that I’ve been so successful writing fiction and this isn’t. My military service is finally coming in handy in real life, but I never thought I would write so much in Morse code. Every “dit” and “dat” I tap out, I’m afraid this damned machine is going to blow up in my face.