Does Blindness Prevent You From Writing?

Last week, I mentioned that I would tell you a little bit more about the students at SGS. Today, I want to tell you about Emilie Sandbye. Today, I want to tell you about her four years at SGS because, today, Dear Reader, I went to meet with her caseworker to discuss her future!

The idea of sitting down at a cafe or your home office and typing on your laptop while you conjure up your novel seems like the epitome of hygge, right? Now, try doing it blind.

Experience society telling you, straightforwardly, that you will never be a “contributing member of society.” Close your eyes and imagine someone saying that to you: “You’re blind. You’ll never contribute to society. Forget about education. Try to find your way around.”

Not this badass: Emilie was determined to follow her aspirations of becoming an author.

When she first met with SGS, she cried. THIS is what she has wanted her entire life, a creative writing school! But Emilie hadn’t graduated from high school, and honestly, the curriculum was developed to exceed Danish University standards. How would she be able to pass?

How? Indeed. I’ll tell you how.

Emilie was done listening to people tell her what she could and couldn’t do. And she seriously discussed this with her caseworker, who agreed to have Aalborg Municipality pay her tuition! Emilie began a full time education at SGS in the fall of 2015.

The first semester, she would abruptly point out the time when the class was over because her head was full of knowledge and English. She experienced panic attacks, anxiety, stress. But at SGS, I can honestly say we understand. So, we taught her strategies to deal with her panic and stress. We provided her an environment in which she could get up, walk out, breathe, and come back (or not). We started live-streaming our classes so if she, or any of our students, needed to study from home, they could.

But we never treated her like she was blind. And we never treated her like she was incapable. We treated her like all of our students, with respect.

By her second year, she discovered The History of Literary Criticism and Contemporary Literary Criticism. And next thing I knew, she was borrowing theory books, reading up on Gender Studies, Queer Theory, and applying theory to literary analyses. She was earning high grades, too. And she couldn’t stop reading academic texts that even my students at Aalborg University weren’t picking up (for you students at AAU, yes, that’s a challenge)! 

It was like her obstacles released their tentacles around her SPIRIT and her inner Phoenix burst out, wings flapping so hard she climbed up into the stratosphere.

During her third year, she was working on her FIFTH book. And by Christmas of 2018, she heard back from an amazing publisher here in Denmark called Ulven og Uglen (The Owl and The Wolf). They had read her first book and the day before Christmas, delivered the best gift Emilie could receive: NOTES! Ulven og Uglen had respected her as an author and gave her COPIOUS notes on her first book. They were thorough, honest, and clear. And Emilie immediately set out implementing their comments. 

She has now finished her 7th semester, and will graduate in June with a high-10 (that’s an “A”). She is working on a revision, and will re-submit to Uglen og Ulven. And in the fall, she will go to high school and get her diploma. And what’s next for her?

Emilie’s going to University!

How’s that for a contributing member of society? 

(Can you here the OOMPH in my voice?)

Written by: LeAnne Kline
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