Elements of Style: A Blind Writer’s Bible

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

finkeBy Beth Finke

Like so many of the other young people flocking to journalism school at the end of the 1970s, I was sure I’d become the next Woodward or Bernstein.

But then the spots showed up.

“Retinopathy,” the eye specialist said.

During my months in the hospital for eye surgeries, a social worker suggested I keep a journal. Good idea. Only problem? My eyes were patched shut. How could I write?

Just 25 years old, I’d gotten married months before the diagnosis, and my new husband came to the rescue. Mike bought me a cassette recorder. Three months in the hospital provided plenty of time to fill tape after tape with daily thoughts and impressions. Maintaining that audio journal helped me through long, dark hours in my hospital bed.

Eye surgeries didn’t work. A year after my diagnosis, I was totally blind. The Americans with Disabilities Act wouldn’t be…

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