Monday, March 01, 2010


Sometimes I walk in the dark.

When my vision went bad, it went fast. At the beginning of 7th grade I tested as 20/20. By the end of 8th grade it was 20/200. I couldn't sit in the back row anymore. I was squinting. I forgot what the world looked like in clarity, in detail--it was all a bit of a blur.

I got contacts, of course. I could see again, the glorious vision of individual leaves instead of green blob-trees. But my vision without help continued to deteriorate. Within another year or so it was 20/400. That's legally blind without correction. (Fortunately, correction works fine for me.)

I was 13. I didn't tell anyone, but I deduced, on my own, that it was just going to keep getting worse. I figured they probably wouldn't tell me, but at this rate I'd be really blind before too long.

So I started practicing. I'd close my eyes and navigate around my room, around my house. I'd find my way around walls and furniture with my hands. I'd pour drinks with my eyes closed, judging by sound or my thumb on the edge when to stop. And at night, often, I'd go through the whole house without turning lights on, testing myself.

I don't know when I started to believe that the worst wouldn't happen. But last night I went to check on Child after all the lights were out, and I realized I still do it. Not for the same reason: just to challenge myself. Have I paid enough attention to where all the toys are, where we left things? Do I remember the sharp jut of the desk here, the chair there?

I collect bruises, sometimes, but I keep trying.

Writing is like walking in the dark, isn't it? Especially for pantsers like me. I don't have an outline, a map, a light. I start with a character in a situation and I follow along. Walk bravely in the darkness to see where it leads me.

I collect bruises, sometimes, but I keep trying.


Tiffany said...

What a great analogy, Suze. Maybe this is why I'm a *planner* -- I'm totally, utterly scared of the dark :)

Linda G. said...

Same thing happened to me. When I started becoming nearsighted, my vision deteriorated fast (apparently that happens around puberty--yet another thing to blame on hormones).

I was sure I was going blind, too. When practicing feeling my way around with long sticks became boring, I started training my dog for life as a service dog. Let's just say Sparky, a toy fox terrier, was not cooperative. ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

Terrific analogy! And there's nothing quite like the feeling of successfully navigating your way through those dark halls.


pseudosu said...

Great post Susan. The idea that there are unseen, as yet undiscovered things out there in the dark def makes it more of an adventure.

Indigo said...

Wonderful analogy. I get exactly what you mean. I did the same thing growing up with my hearing disability. Even with a hearing aid I watched peoples lips move and had people tell me when I mispronounced a word.

These days, I can read lips rather well. Comes in handy now that I'm actually deaf. I need to remember to apply that same dedication and courage to writing.

With writing...I swear there are those days I beat myself up mercilessly. (Hugs)Indigo

Patience-please said...

Thank you for a great post!

from someone who's quite bruised and battered

Judith Engracia said...

sounds terrifying, but I love the parallels you made. Beautiful writing!

Susan Adrian said...

T: Maybe so! I do okay in the dark if I know the place well...but the thought of never seeing again: *shudder*

Linder: REALLY? Wow, I don't feel quite so freaky now. Thanks. :)

Tawna: Thanks! It does take courage to follow when you don't know where you're going!

Sue: YES! Adventure awaits.

Susan Adrian said...

Patience-please: I totally get the bruised and battered. And your name, too...yeah. I need some of that.

Judith: Thanks!! The only terrifying part was trying to face up to the possibility of not seeing. I'm very, very lucky that it was just my morbid imagination!