Saturday, October 28, 2006

Seeing With Your Eyes Closed

What you lose in blindness is the space around you, the place where you are, and without that you might not exist. You could be nowhere at all. - Barbara Kingsolver

I can't imagine being blind.

When I get up in the morning, I seldom turn the lights on until I'm ready to make my cup of coffee. For some reason, this morning as I walked downstairs -- feeling my way with the tip of my toes to know when the stairs stopped -- I thought about being blind.

Of all my senses, I would miss sight the most. What's worse is that a natural, human fear of the dark would be a problem all of the time. I have a vivid imagination (don't we all?) and this morning, I pictured someone ominous standing there watching me blindly fumble my way around the house, staying just out of reach but knowing that he could reach out at any time without my knowing of his presence.

Then I thought of all the other ways that I, as a blind person, could know he was there. Sound? Would I, with my sharper ears, hear his quiet movements? Smell? Could I smell is soap, his cologne, his fear?

It made me realize that I rely far too heavily upon sight in my writing, and don't utilize the other senses as much as I could. As much as I should. My scenes aren't as deep, my characters aren't as rounded.

As I write for NaNo, I want to make certain I utilize that ability. How does that person or place or thing sound? Smell? Taste? Feel? I plan on writing a note that reminds me I have more than one sense on my fluorescent Post-its and attaching it to my monitor.

And, periodically, I will write with my eyes closed.


Tori Lennox said...

I have the same problem. I hardly ever use smell or taste. Need to work on that.

jkqfvm - jumpy koalas quit favoring Vietnamese macaws

Allie Boniface said...

Ooh, a good challenge, I think. I just finished doing a unit on descriptive writing with my students, and we focused heavily on using the 5 senses to add detail. It's tough but makes the writing so much richer, I think.

Side note: I have terrible vision (I started wearing glasses when I was 3), and I've always thought I was more afraid of the dark as a child because I really, really couldn't see anything. Even the shadows were blurred. But I also think sometimes that I am a little more aware of what it might be like to be blind. If I get up in the middle of the night and don't feel like grabbing my glasses, I very much use my sense of touch, and hearing, and my awareness of the edges in my house, to find my way along.


Chris said...

I liked "Seeing With Your Eyes Closed" a lot. It's something to think about and something to help make writing richer. Thank you for writing this.

I think I would miss taste more than sight. Day to day would be so bland without taste.

Ceri said...

Great entry! I, for one, really have to pay attention to that. I usually ignore my other senses until its time for edits. Its amazing what a difference it makes to write "with your eyes closed".

I shall make it a point to do it for Nano.

OMG Nano is in less than a week!!!!!

hvxik-having vision xrayed is kooky

Anonymous said...

I spent a whole day blind once. It was tougher than I thought. I was more than happy to be done with the experiment.
Oh, could you enter me in the contest for the Courage book please!

I'm worried about Nano, I think I might have to bow out this year. I'm so busy. Not sure I can juggle that many things.... (sad face)