When I was younger, my Dad dated a woman who was hard of hearing. She was completely deaf on one side and had a hearing aid for the other. She never had any particular problems in life, she did have a really loud laugh. Her speech was slightly different because she couldn’t always hear herself, at least not clearly. What amazed me was that she’d never learned sign language either.
During my A-levels, there was a time where I’d completed my coursework and had some free study periods. I decided to learn sign language. It was something I’d always wanted to do and I’m not sure what prompted me. Throughout the rest of the hour-session, I taught myself the alphabet and was able to recite it with ease.
I love running and back then was part of the school’s cross country team. This meant that I was training at least three times a week. After one of these sessions, I was enjoying one of those gorgeously relaxing showers. It was quite cold outside so I had the temperature cranked right up. I couldn’t really hear what was happening outside my en-suite and then an idea came to me.
What would life be like if you couldn’t hear?
I began to write the opening chapter of my novel. Playing around with the idea of relying more on visuals than anything else but still having the ability to appreciate things. I even had the idea that because my character couldn’t hear, she was able to show more appreciation for what she could see and explored her visual storytelling.
Like most stories at that age, it got put in a file on my computer and left.
That September I went to University. It was a terrifying yet amazing experience. I was going to begin to study Creative Writing and my excitement was almost overwhelming. All my life I had been writing this and that, I’d even finished two novels and now I could finally make those skills worthwhile.
The first semester flew by and come Christmas I was ready to begin again. In the January, I decided to go back to my novel. I researched more about sign language and enrolled upon a new sign language course. The BBC produced an inspiring documentary about deaf teenagers and what life was like for them. It was perfect for what I was doing, I could finally get inside the head of a deaf teen.
Every day, after my lectures, I sat down at my desk and wrote a chapter. Within weeks I had the full skeleton of a novella written and ready to be edited. I read through it once, then twice, making any edits I found. Finally it was ready after only six weeks. I couldn’t believe it. My first novel had taken me five years and the second one had taken at least three, but here I was, sat with one that had been written in less than two months.
I didn’t really think much else of it until the summer came. An Army magazine had agreed to publish an article I’d written about life at a Military boarding school and this spurred me on. If one piece of writing was good enough, then I’m sure another would be too. I stumbled across a little eBook company called Any Subject Books and found that they would accept unsolicited manuscripts. I couldn’t believe my luck! So I submitted and patiently waited for a reply, should I ever receive one.
Low and behold a few weeks later, a reply appeared. They wanted to publish! It was time to celebrate. But first they wanted to have some clarification on the content and the manuscript was sent to a local deaf association for approval. They gave the go ahead and everything was ready to go.
Before this point in my life, I liked writing because I could and because, for me, it was fun. But this was the moment when I realised that others could like it too. It gave me a fresh dose of confidence in my skill and spurred me on to write something new.