writing

It’s about Time I Updated You

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It’s an embarrassingly long time since I updated you on my project to convert my memoir, A Different Way of Seeing, into an audio book. Which isn’t to say there’s nothing to report. It’s just that I haven’t got around to blogging about it.

Till now.

Admittedly, when I started the project in December 2018 I expected it to be a quick task. But, what with one thing and another, I’m still working on it.

When I went to India, I found time to make notes on what needed to be updated. I honestly expected to have a page or so on each chapter. To my surprise, my notes were 22 pages!

Right now I’m creating the first draft of the content for the update. I’ve completed 8 chapters so far, with 3 to go. And I’m on about 25 000 words.

Once I’ve finished the first draft, I’ll do an initial edit myself and then pass it on to a professional editor for them to do their magic.

And then I’ll start looking at the recording of the updated manuscript – both the original content from A Different Way of Seeing, and the updates, which I’ve taken to calling Filling in the Blind Spots.

I promise I’ll try to be better about letting you know how the project’s coming along…

I Know This Too Shall Pass…

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A few days ago I got a message from a friend who was concerned that she hadn’t seen any blog posts from me for a while. And it’s true – I haven’t blogged for the past two weeks. It’s not that there’s been nothing going on. Actually, I’ve been crazy busy with some exciting stuff. Rather I’ve been in a bit of a funk and haven’t been able to pull together the energy to write.

Sometimes life’s just like that.

Even now, as I write this, I can feel the difference – usually I can sit down and share a story or an experience with you and the words just flow from my fingers as they dance across the keyboard of my laptop. But not today. Today my fingers are sluggish and I find I’m having to contemplate every word, every sentence I write.

Some years ago, when I was going through a really tough time, a friend of mine reassured me by saying, “This too shall pass.”! and indeed it did. As I know it will this time.

I guess you could argue that by explaining this I’m already moving beyond the funk that’s stopped me writing. And maybe you’re right. I hope you are!
But if I’m a little quieter than normal, please know that everything’s okay and I’m just taking some time out to re-gather my energy.

Free Tickets to the Women in Publishing Summit

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It was an extraordinary experience for me to be part of an international panel discussing empowering others through sharing your personal story for the Women in Publishing Online Summit taking place from 4 – 8 March. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to share with the other women authors I met on the panel and whose stories blew me away!

The Summit includes more than 70 women from all areas of the publishing industry – authors, editors, designers, publishers and marketers – sharing some of their best thoughts and ideas on creating and publishing a book. Whether you’re an aspiring author wanting to publish your first book or an experienced author wanting to learn more tricks of the trade, the WIP Summit is a great resource.

Here’s a link to get a free ticket to the event, which allows you to access the interviews for a few days from the start of the Summit: https://loisstrachan–writepublishsell.thrivecart.com/free–registration/

I registered for the WIP Summit last year and chose to upgrade to the All Access Pass (AAP) because I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch all the interviews and gain maximum value from what was being shared in the time the free ticket gave me access. It took me almost 9 months to work through them all. But that’s entirely up to you.

PS Yes, the link is an affiliate link – but I only get commission if you decide to upgrade to the AAP. Still I’d appreciate your using the link above if you want to attend so the organisers know I’m sharing the news of this great event.

The Women in Publishing Summit

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In March last year I signed up to listen to the inaugural Women in Publishing Summit. The summit was a week of interviews with women sharing their insights into different parts of the publishing world – authors of different genres, designers, marketers and publishers. It took me almost a year to listen to the full five-day summit, but it was worth every second
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When the call for speakers for the 2019 WIP Summit was published by the organizer, Alexa Bigwarfe, I thought of putting my name forward to share my experiences of using writing as a medium to raise awareness that disability does not mean inability. The more I thought about it, the more I felt drawn to the idea.

So I put a proposal to the organizing team and was over the moon with joy when I was selected to speak as a panelist on telling difficult stories and the importance of using your personal story to empower others.

The WIP Summit is an online summit that will be published in March 2019. If you’re involved in the publishing industry in any way, are thinking of writing a book to share your story with the world or would just like to learn from some inspiring women in the publishing industry, I’d recommend you sign up for the Summit.

In the meantime, you can find out more about what’s on offer on either the website or the Facebook page – here’s the links to both:

Website: https://womeninpublishingsummit.com/?ck_subscriber_id=185618006

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInPublishing/

What Would You Like to Know about Blindness?

Here’s my first update on my plan to convert my book, “A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way” into an audio book.

When I first reread the book, I got the feeling that there was quite a bit that I could update. That, of course, would be the deciding factor of whether or not to try and find a way to update the content given in the audio version. It didn’t make sense to me to figure out how to do it before working out if there was enough material to make an update worthwhile.

When I started listening to each chapter and jotting down ideas of what could be added, what had changed and what I can do now that I couldn’t when I wrote Different Way of Seeing I found I actually had a wealth of new information – from looking at how apps have solved some of the challenges in the kitchen, right the way through to sharing a little of the wonderous adventures I’ve had since meeting Fiji.

Yes, some chapters have more updates than others. Ultimately very little’s changed in how I select clothing and make-up, but I have lots of new stories to share with you so, even where little’s changed, there’s still lots to share that I hope will both entertain and inform you as you listen.

I’m still in the phase of figuring out what needs to go into the update. If you’d like to know how I accomplish any specific task… and I really do mean any task… I’d love to hear from you – I may not use your question in the update, and I may already have answered it in Different Way of Seeing, but I’ll still get back to you with a response of some form.

Looking forward to hearing your input…

From Seeing to Hearing – the Start of a New Journey

I’ve been rereading my book,” A Different Way of Seeing – A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way”, before starting the journey of turning it into an audio book. I can’t tell you how many people have asked if the book’s available on Audible. I’ve been meaning to get it into audio for some time – and that time is now!

It’s been really interesting comparing the person I am now to the me who wrote the book three years ago. In truth, it’s been quite a revelation!

Here’s some of the things that’ve struck me:

  • How much my writing style’s evolved –I’m over the moon when people who’ve read my book tell me I write just like I speak. I wanted the book to have a conversational tone and people tell me that’s how they feel, too. I also feel my writing “voice” has developed from writing regular blogposts. But I frowned when I reread my book because my language was more formal than I remembered– “It is” instead of “It’s”, “I have not” instead of “I haven’t”, just for two simple examples. And I’m worried the audio version will sound unnaturally stilted because of the language unless I change it a little.
  • How much has changed–the number of things I’m doing that I wasn’t doing then, like podcasting, playing the occasional game on my iPhone, using online meeting software to run interviews, and becoming more involved in the accessible travel community; how much the work I’m doing has been refined; how much more comfortable I’ve become in trying new technologies; how much Fiji and I have grown and developed as a team, to name but a few of the ways my life has changed since writing the book.
  • How much I’ve learned– time and time again I found mention of tasks I couldn’t do without sighted assistance at the time of writing that I now do on my own using technology. Often I’d smile at my prior self, knowing how more independent I’d soon become. Not to mention shaking my head in wonder at a few things I considered improbable, if not impossible, back then that are now also completely routine to me.

It’s been a valuable experience for me and given me plenty time to reflect on my growth.

Some of you may be wondering why I’m going to the trouble of rereading my own book just to turn it into an audio book. The answer is that I plan to update the content for the audio version. Because, while most of what I included is still relevant, the things that have changed are so significant that they’ve altered how I do things which, after all, is what my book’s about.

I’ll keep you updated on how things are going as I carry on with this journey – most of the details are still vague, but I’m keeping my eyes firmly on the prize!

So, this is 2019!

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So, this is 2019. Can you believe it?

Like I’ve done over the past few years, one of my final acts of 2018 was to read my first post for last year and reflect on whether or not I’d met the intentions I’d set. I was thrilled to realize I’d done fairly well – with one very notable exception.

Rather than summarizing what happened last year and comparing it to the intentions I’d set, let’s just say I felt I managed to build my profile within the disability sector through my speaking, writing and through the Accessible South Africa Travel podcast I host twice a month. It’s been a real pleasure to work with organisations like the SA Guide-Dog Association, Cape Town Society for the Blind, The Unmute Dance Theatre Company and with Accessible South Africa. And, as I play with new technologies, I find it easier and easier to improve all I do. All of which reflected what I’d hoped would happen in 2018.

To my chagrin, one of the primary intentions I set for 2018 was to start my new book. And, what with one thing and another, it just didn’t happen…

As I do each year, here’s where I set my intentions for the coming year:

  • Write another book – okay, I know I said that a year ago and did nothing about it, but I already have 2 writing projects lined up for 2019 so hopefully I’ll get it right this time.
  • Accessible travel– broadening the markets for the podcast and my travel writing into the mainstream market.
  • Employability – building strategic relationships to help me shift the mainstream thinking on employment of persons with disabilities. 
  • • Speaking – much of the work I’ve done this year has been in the disability sector; over the coming year I’d like to branch out as a speaker to inspire a more diverse audience with my story.
  • Music – I’d like to steal a bit more time out of my schedule in the coming year to focus on music and perform live at least once in 2019.

Finally, I’d like to challenge myself a little more to try new things – be it accessible ziplining, adaptive surfing, horse-riding, exploring more of the tourist experiences that Cape Town and South Africa have to offer. Basically, I want to challenge myself to get out and play more in our beautiful city and beyond! And, of course, to travel!

Whatever your intentions for the coming year, I wish you a wonder-filled 2019. I look forward to sharing my adventures with you during the year!

An Unexpected Result of Writing

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When I started as the travel feature writer for the Blind Perspective e-newsletter earlier this year I never dreamed one of my articles would land up on an American radio service. But that’s what happened.

A while back I received a mail from one of the producers at Gatewave Radio in New York asking if they could read one of my Blind Perspective articles on air.

Of course I said yes.

I asked them for a link to the recording. Here it is so you can hear it for yourself:

Next time I’ll return to my amazing European trip and our final destination – Berlin!

Falling Back into the Habit

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I know, I know, it’s been ages since I published an article. It’s certainly not for lack of anything to write about. After all, I recently got back from an amazing trip to Germany and Poland about which I have lots to share. I also need to gather my courage and write a final post honouring my retired guide dog, Eccles, who passed away after a short illness. Then I want to tell you about some of the exciting blind travel work I’m starting on, and a media interview I did recently.

So yes, I have plenty to share with you.

But somehow I’ve just fallen out of the habit of settling down to write…

Today I took the decision that it was time to fall back into that habit. so here’s just a short note to let you know that I’m back – back home, back writing, and back willing and eager to share more of my experiences living my ordinary life without sight.

I was startled to see that Fiji also neglected to write an article while I was away – clearly she was just having too much fun on her holiday from guide dogging. Maybe I’ll wake her up just now and ask her if she actually plans on writing a post this month. But you know what they say about letting sleeping dogs lie?

All I’m saying is watch this space…

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Should an author/blogger write like they speak, or should they use more formal language when writing?

Several people who’ve read my book, A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way, have told me they love the fact I write just like I speak – that they can almost hear me telling the stories I use in my book. I’ve always taken it as a compliment.

So I’m sure you can imagine how startled I was when one of the presenters in the Women in Publishing Summit I’ve been attending online made it quite clear she didn’t think it was good practice.

To go back a step, the Women in Publishing Summit was a week-long online event covering diverse topics about the writing, publishing and marketing of books, highlighting some of the amazing women in the industry. I’ve been slowly working my way through the presentations and have found it hugely valuable for me as both a book writer and blogger.

But, back to the point…

My first response when I heard the presenter’s comment was to shake my head vehemently and reach for the track forward button. But then I thought well, let’s hear if she expands on her comment. And, of course, she did… and I’m glad I stuck around to listen.

What she said (and yes, I’m paraphrasing) is that we tend to pepper our spoken communication with filler words. Anyone who’s gone through the Toastmasters programmes will be familiar with the concept of filler words when we speak – they’re those words that we habitually use when we want to give our brains a moment to catch up. They’re typically words like “just”, “Like”, “actually”, “so” and well, I’m you can fill in a few of your particular favourites.

Her point was that these words don’t add to the value of what we’re saying – if anything they detract from it. As an editor she spends a lot of time removing these filler words to bring out the power of the writer’s message.

I understand what she’s saying, and agree to a certain point. However, I also feel that filler words can be part of our writing style and if, like me, we wish for our writing to have a conversational tone, then they can work as long as they’re not overused.

So, while I feel the casual tone of my writing style works for me and makes my stories easier to read, I’ve found myself being more critical of my writing and removing a few of the filler words. And yes, I’m becoming hyper-aware of how often I drop the words “Just” and “Actually” into a sentence!

As I begin thinking about my next big writing project -ghost-writing a book for Fiji – it’s going to be interesting to see how much what I’m learning from the Women in Publishing Summit will add to the process.

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Lois shares updates on her book, speaking and the reality of living with blindness. Find out what Lois is up to – subscribe here.

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