Something magical happens when I pick up a book. My disabilities and physical limitations are irrelevant and I am able to delve into the story like any other able-bodied person. I can travel to other worlds, meet wonderful people, fight off evil and experience multiple adventures all within the safety of my own home.
In a book, I am not the girl who can’t run, or the sick person trapped in bed for days on end. I can be a hero, a villain, or a brave adventurer. I get completely lost in the books I read. For me reading is like dreaming. I still get to experience it, and even though I know it isn’t real, the feelings I get from it are 100% genuine.
Storytelling is a fine art that I have forever wanted to share. When I was six years old, my life goal was to write more books than Enid Blyton (yes, I am aware, I have a heck of a lot of work to do). I didn’t want to write more books than Blyton in order to obtain success. I wanted to write them in order to send out as many little pieces of magic into the world as possible.
With rheumatoid arthritis and the inflammation throughout my joints caused by the many years of uncontrolled seizures, I find writing is often a slow and painful process for me now. My writing goal is slowly slipping beyond my reach.
That doesn’t mean I can’t still share the magic of storytelling. It just means the stories won’t necessarily be written by me.
Sometimes it pays to dig into the depths of your life goals to find the underlying reason behind your aspirations. For me, it never truly was about writing, or being successful, or having a best-seller with my name on it. I just wanted to be able to give someone the freedom to experience something wonderful regardless of their physical limitations. I wanted to help others to lose their minds within a story and come out the other side of it with another piece of their soul.
The past few years I have applied for over 30 volunteer positions (yes volunteer!) asking if I could read books to the elderly, the palliative care patients, children - anyone who would listen. I was knocked back for every single one - because I am unable to guarantee my ability to arrive for set shifts. Unfortunately my epilepsy doesn’t like working to schedules and most of the time when I have a seizure, it is at the most inappropriate time. As much as I have tried to control this aspect of my rebellious body, I am yet to find a way to successfully put my seizures onto a work-able schedule. How irresponsible of me.
Of course, being declined for 30 voluntary positions within a year is enough to get anyone down in the dumps. If I’m not even able to donate my time, who would ever employ me in a paid position? Am I really that useless that no one is able to find me useful? Even for free? My depression sky rocketed for a while and I felt myself falling so deep into the darkness there would be no coming back. I knew I had to do something - but what? Between my doctors appointments, physiology, neurologist, dental, sleep specialist and countless other appointments, as well as the many days I awake in so much pain I am unable to even get myself to the toilet, what job is there for me?
As always, I dove into books. I bought and was donated thousands of books and I spent my days (and nights) lost within their pages. Eventually I had so many books, it was becoming dangerous to enter my spare bedroom, as the stacks were nearing the roof and beginning to sway perilously. Of course, being on a disability pension, I had to be picky on how much I would pay for my books. With photosensitivity it is always best to read from paper, than from a lit screen. And with the inflammation in my knuckles, wrists, elbows and shoulders, hardcover books were often too weighty for me to hold long periods of time. Though, when I would buy someones complete collection of books, there was always a mixture of paperback and hardcover books.
There was only one thing to do - Open a bookstore! This of course was ideal. Not only would I be sharing stories, as I’d always wanted to do, but I would have a job that I had complete control of. The question was - how does one open a bookstore? Would I need a store? What about the days I was unable to get out of bed? Who would open the shop then? How many books would I need to open a shop? Did I have enough in my personal collection?
I spent the best part of six months doing research. What would I need, what were the legal requirements? I of course had to ring mum a lot and ask her to do some google searches for me, because the increased time online was giving me migraines and making me extremely unwell.
Eventually, I was pretty certain I had it figured out. On February 12th, 2020 I registered the business name ‘Read the Write Book’. I registered it as a bookstore, currently online only and a writer’s workshop (something I hope to work towards in the future). Of course, it is taking me some time to upload all the books to the website, due to my photosensitivity. There are currently over 500 books available on the website, with over 4,800 more to go, but its something. It’s my dream, my job, my future. It has whipped me out of the darkness that is depression and thrust me into a bright new world. A world where I am a business owner, not just the disabled girl living on the pension.
Of course it is not a true success story just yet. Some weeks I make enough sales to give myself a little pocket money, but most weeks I am still putting more money into the business than what I get back. But that’s the joy of business. Even on days when I am completely bed bound (like today), I am able to work on the business in some capacity. It gives my life purpose again. A reason to wake every morning and do my darned best to battle through the pain in my body. It’s worth the fight if there is a reason to smile at the end of it all.
Never give up on your dreams. Sometimes life will throw you a curveball and you may have to change your position, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still hit a home run! (Don’t ask me why I just used sports as an analogy - I’ve never played sport in my life!).
The important thing is that you follow YOUR dreams - do what makes your soul feel that little bit lighter. There will always be people who will shake the heads and scoff at your efforts, but if you’re doing what you love, its so much easier to stick your finger up and tell them to shove it. In the six months since I opened my business, not a single family member of mine has supported my endeavours by making a purchase, even though I have offered them discounts and there are some books as low as 5 cents. I admit, there are some days when I feel a bit down and wonder why my loved ones aren’t supporting my dream. Do they not believe in me? Do they think it’s stupid? Are they just waiting for the whole thing to belly flop so they can have a chuckle at my expense? But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. I am following my dreams - not theirs! And even if it does go belly up - at least I tried!
Before my brother died, he told me “If every time you make a decision in life, you are able to see yourself looking back on this moment ten years from now and say ‘I did the best I can’ then you will live your life with no regrets.”
And thats what I’m doing. I am living my life my way and following my dreams - no regrets!
If you wish to visit Read the Write Book, please click on the logo below. The website will open in a new window.