writing

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.

Paws for Thought – An Announcement from Fiji

Cds DSCF5922I’m wagging so hard right now that I think my tail might just fly off! You won’t believe what’s happening!

Mom and I are going to write a book together… In fact, I’m going to write the book and mom will just co-write it with me. Don’t you think that will be exciting?

We’re only in the planning stages right now but we often have long conversations about what we think should and shouldn’t go into the book. I still disagree with mom that we should include stories of me being naughty – she says it will make me more human (I think she means canine). But ultimately I’ve never written a book before and mom’s written five, so maybe I ought to listen to her.

What I really wanted to say is that if you have any ideas about what you’d like to see in the book, you must just let mom and I know… I promise we’ll consider them!

And we’ll most definitely let you know how we’re getting on as our plans develop and we start putting paw to paper.But no pre-orders yet, please – it’s a little early for that.

Wow… me, a published author… wag wag wag wag wag wag

Seeing the World Differently – Writing for The Blind Perspective

A few months ago I started writing for an e-newsletter called The Blind Perspective. What’s so great about this newsletter is that it’s written by visually impaired people for a visually impaired audience. My articles focus on why I love traveling to different places, and how I do so.

What’s interesting for me as a blogger and writer who has written extensively about travel is that I’ve had to really think about the fact I’m writing for a non-sighted audience. The way I write, and the stories I share, have a slightly different focus to them and it’s really making me think about what and how to bring my message across. At the same time, I hope my Blind Perspective articles can also be enjoyed by a sighted reader – so why not take a look and let me know?
Here’s a link to the first article, published in February 2018 – hope you enjoy it!

https://www.theblindperspective.com/newsletter/2018/lois_2018.htm

Just a brief note before you click on the link – you may feel the visual impact of the site is unusual. That’s because certain low vision conditions are more easily able to read print like this – remember I said the newsletter is by visually impaired people for visually impaired people, so it makes sense to present it in the most accessible form for that audience.
You can find out more about the Blind Perspective and read the most recent issue here:
www.theblindperspective.com
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Looking Ahead to 2018

Cds IMG 1348 Edit 2It’s become something of a tradition for me to reflect on the past 12 months in my first post of the new year and to consider what I’d like the coming year to hold for me. As I’ve done in the past, I want to reiterate that this isn’t about resolutions or goals for the year. It’s merely me thinking aloud on paper about what I’d like to see happen in my business in the foreseeable future.

Looking back to my first post of 2017 I wrote about my amazement that I’d achieved so many of the items I’d laid out as intentions in January 2016, despite not consciously having done so. I found exactly the same thin when I looked back at my first post from 2017 – it’s almost like those intentions had been sitting in the back of my mind and subtly shaping everything I did last year.

2017 was a year in which I clarified the area I want to work in – namely explaining how people who are differently abled accomplish tasks to facilitate our inclusion into society and the workplace, and to build relationships with the various role-players in that sector. Certainly that was the focus of much of my speaking and the media opportunities that came my way, many of which I’ve already shared with you. I’ve also started making better use of different technologies and, as you’ll no doubt agree, this will be a continuous focus since technology is constantly changing.

Here’s where I set a few of my intentions for 2018:

  • Start working on my next book – whatever that turns out to be
  • Continue Building and consolidating my brand
  • Extend my network of those working in the disability sector to leverage real and tangible change
  • Continue experimenting with new technologies and using them to build my business

And so, let’s see what the new year brings…

May I wish you everything of the best for 2018 – let’s hope it is a positive, productive and profitable year for us all!

What Do You Mean It’s a Two Hour Interview???

Cds b6e41c7b 3b79 4649 9ca8 9331b6dd54d5I’ll happily accept almost any opportunity to share my story and talk about my books, but I’ll admit I was somewhat daunted by the thought of being the only guest on a two-hour radio interview. Fellow speaker and friend, presenter Cindy Pivacic assured me the time would pass before I knew it, and she ought to know – she’s been presenting the Entrep-A-Who Show on Hashtag Radio for several months.

Regardless of my anxiety, Fiji and I arrived at the Hashtag Radio studios at the appointed time and were ushered into the studio. And Cindy was absolutely right – the two hours flew by and all too soon we were done.

We covered a broad range of subjects in the interview – my speaking, my writing with special reference to my latest book, “A Different Way of Seeing”, the technology I use to help me accomplish everyday tasks and a little about the realities of living without sight. I even got to demonstrate (umm, audiostrate?) The voice over app that I use to access my iPhone. We also spoke about the difference Fiji has made in my life… all while she lay blissfully slumbering at my feet.

The photo shows Cindy, myself and Fiji standing beside the Hashtag Radio sign.

Listen to Hashtag Radio here: www.hashtagradio.co.za

I’d definitely recommend tuning in to one of Cindy’s Entrep-A-Who Shows each Wednesday from 12:00 – 14:00 – she always has fascinating guests!

Such a Great Feeling!

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It’s always such a great feeling to read a review of one’s work – especially if it’s positive! Below is a link to a review of my book “A Different Way of seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way by fellow speaker and member of my MasterMind group, Charlotte Kemp:

http://charlottekemp.co.za/resources/different-way-seeing-lois-strachan/

Thanks so much for the review, Charlotte!

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