My Toolbox is Empty

Hello everyone. Welcome back. I’d like to start off by saying that despite this blog’s title, it is not some woe-is-me lament about my life, but an example to others that sometimes life will throw some curve balls your way, and you will inevitable have to overcome them if you want to progress in your life. I’ve been lucky to only have had some minor obstructions in my life, and hope that, if I’ve done anything with them, it’s learn from them. After all, all good things in life worth having are worth fighting for.

Well, with that said, let’s get to it.

Way back when I was a young child and I decided, quite against my will and at the prompting of a grand celestial muse, that I wanted to be a writer, I did so fully confident that I had everything it took to succeed. In my adolescent mind, I was a star on the rise, I had the tools, the ideas, and the drive to conquer my chosen profession. It didn’t hurt that not a single person I knew at the time showed much interest in reading, let alone writing. It was a foregone conclusion that whatever I showed my friends, would be seen as ‘amazing,’ more because they were surprised I’d actually manage to crank out a two-hundred page novel, than because of anything of merit in said novel.

It took me nearly two decades to realize, to my chagrin, that my literary toolbox was filled with silly putty. Think I’m being too harsh on myself? Too easy? Well, either way, I shall endeavor to explain. First off, the very fact that I had no writing peers during those early years ensured that all of my prose was bright, shiny, and completely nonfunctional—like an outfit in a fashion show. Sure it looked interesting, but would you really want to walk outside wearing a big copper coil as a skirt? My early writing was plagued with purple prose from here to eternity, and I had no clue. It took me finding other writers whose work I respected before I finally listened to criticism about my style. And by then, it was so hard to put down my flashy, electric hammer in lieu of a more practical, standard one.

But literary idiosyncrasy aren’t my only problems. I’m also blessed with a couple of fun medical problems that make writing—and reading—more difficult for me than for other people. For one, I have a horrible memory. Like, horrendously bad. Like if my life depended on recalling five words in specific order…

Another problem I have is a very short attention span, which prompts me to shift trains of thoughts midway through. I don’t know if I have ADD or I’m just easily distracted by sparkly things, but more often than not, I have trouble staying focused on one thing for more than a few minutes at a time without some serious effort.

These are really minor issues that I’m sure all people have to some degree or another; a more serious problem that has developed over the years involves my vision. When I was about sixteen, I lost some vision in my right eye. The loss literally hit overnight. One day all was well, the next, I couldn’t see someone’s nose if I covered my good eye. The doctors saw nothing to explain it, and just told me it would get better in time. It never did. Almost fifteen years later, I woke up with more blurs over my other eye. These came and went, and I was able to go to the doctor in time for them to find out that I had a blockage one of the veins behind my eye. They cleared it up, before I lost too much of my vision, and they finally discovered the cause of my problem. Which is to say, they can keep the damage from spreading, but not reverse it.

Hip-hip-hooray, that’s something, but there’s a downside to that as well. The medicine I have to take to keep me from losing more of my vision causes me to get extremely tired. And since I did manage to lose some vision in my left eye as well, I now have blurs that I have to read around, which means I have a hell of a time, getting through a novel without nodding off, or misreading every other word. Recreational reading has become anything but recreational, as it can be frustrating, tedious and annoying long to get through a full-length novel.  Needless to say, spell checking my own work is quite troublesome and sometimes hilarious, because I’ll often not see smaller words that fall into my blind spots, so I’ll have a lot of ‘ofs’ and ‘its,’ that I should have erased all over my manuscript–apologies to my editor for all the extra work this gives them.

But don’t feel too bad for me. I’m getting by, and still writing away, albeit, at a much slower pace than I used to be capable of. Plus, falling asleep has never been easier. My wife isn’t too thrilled about me always nodding off in the middle of a conversation—even if I’m the one talking—but hey, it makes for some funny stories to tell our friends.

Like with all things in life, you have to adjust. So I got a text reader to read back my story to me so I can have a better chance of catching my mistakes. So I learn to read standing up or while doing some other activity, to make sleeping less likely. So I learn to accept that no matter how many times I reread something, I’m going tod leb typoos in them. And in the end, I find it more ironic that all of these little annoyances are made more annoying only because I decided to be a writer. If I’d chosen to be a male stripper, none of these issues would have factored into the success of my career.
But as it stands—and until I can completely P90X—I’m stuck in my career and will not be able to transition into another field just yet. Which is fine with me, because I like writing far more than I like dancing anyway.

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