Cracking Open the Door on Deafness

In my twenties, I was a typist for a novelist who not only had the misfortune to suffer from severe carpel tunnel, but was also profoundly deaf. The deafness had contributed to her divorce, and she holed in up in her parents’ summer house in rural Vermont. Once a professional musician, she cleaned houses before landing a teaching job and turning to writing children’s literature to make a living.

Sitting side by side with me, she dictated her novel.

One morning, an unfamiliar alarm rang out in her study, so piercingly loud I instinctively bent over. I heard nothing but that sound. Fearing it was a fire alarm, I stood up, panicked. Then I saw the novelist, sitting in her chair, was mystified by my actions. She was entirely oblivious to the noise. To her, that alarm didn’t exist.

A red flashing light on her computer power surge system warned that the power had gone out. I shut down her computer. I explained what had happened. Then I stood there, rattled — both from the physical shock and from my glimpse into her immense silence.

Here’s a line from Susan Orlean’s The Library Book:

… oh my God… do you think there are any conservative librarians?


Lyndon, Vermont

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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4 Responses to Cracking Open the Door on Deafness

  1. Vicki says:

    I more than once wondered what would be worse, losing my sight or hearing. I couldn’t help but smile at your post though; your novelist must have thought she had employed a crazy person 🙂

  2. She really did! She was completely mystified — and I couldn’t hear a word she was saying, either!

  3. jenny says:

    your writing is beautiful. i love the way you captured this experience. i felt like i was there. the ability to write like this is such a wonderful gift!

  4. Thank you so much for your kind words!

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