#Writer’s Life - Writer’s Block... Vision
Recently I posted a blog where I claimed I had not just writer’s block but was a writer’s blockhead. The primary focus of that post was how the pandemic and the far-ranging response that followed had led to dramatic changes in my life as well as my wife Sarah’s.
The chief change was a move from California after nearly 40 years. Both Sarah and I were originally from the Midwest and had never lost the yearning to return. What better reason than the craziness surrounding the pandemic?
In addition to the move, the home we bought required significant remodeling. Due to supply shortages and heavy labor demands, the project took longer than we had hoped. Needless to say, this was tremendously wearing on us both. Though the jury is still out regarding the wisdom of such drastic changes, two factors made it a logical decision.
Some of my readers already know one of those factors. In 2005, my vision began to decline. Over the next three years, I suffered four separate retinal detachments, two of them extreme. After the last one in late 2008, I woke one morning and found I could barely read anything on the computer. I immediately panicked!
Thankfully, I had a great retinal surgeon who diagnosed my condition as Ocular Histoplasmosis. The condition has characteristics similar to macular degeneration except the blind spots in the retinal wall are more random. This added to the visual challenge since the places were vision was clear in one eye did not match-up with the other.
Fortunately for me, a new treatment had just become available to stop the continued spread of damage to the retinal wall. Without this treatment, injections in each eye frequently, total blindness was in my future. Thankfully, my vision stabilized for nearly four years. During that time, I retired from my consulting firm and decided to do what I’d always threatened to do – become a writer.
Fast forward a couple of years just as I had completed the draft of my first (award winning) book, Fresh Snow on Bedford Falls. I was reeling from the feedback that left me facing a major rewrite. Would you believe the first draft was over 800 pages while the final version turned out to be less than half that long? Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on that process one day.
At that moment, while deciding whether to tackle this monumental rewrite, my vision went south again. The injections had been stopped a year earlier, but when they were restarted the progression of the disease was halted again. Unfortunately, enough additional damage had been done to qualify me as being legally blind.
After that, I thought long and hard about whether to continue writing or not. After going to a non-profit to learn how to use the special features for the visually impaired on my computer I decided to give it a try. A year later my first work was published in time for my mother’s 100th birthday.
Though a major and continuing challenge, thankfully, my vision has remained stable for several years. The fear of that changing again is never far from my thoughts. Additionally, my vision and the relocation issues outlined above have not been the only road-blocks to my writing career.
More about that in an upcoming blog.