If anyone told me that I would be a professional writer in high school, I would have guffawed in his face. My eighth-grade English teacher thought I could be a writer, but the rest of my English teachers in both high school and junior college dislike my writing style. I did not understand grammar, and my spelling was awful
Instead of doing endless hours of homework that did not make sense, I rather watched the Los Angeles Dodgers and television series and movies or paint. I was an uninspired average high-school student. My favorite courses were physical education and history.
My troubles with English started with my birth accident. When I was born, the doctor, who delivered me, needed to revive me. The umbilical cord was wrapped around my shoulder, which prevented me from getting oxygen. Without oxygen, I suffered irreversible brain damage.
I cannot walk, use my hands, and speak understandably. For the first six grades, I was segregated from my able-bodied peers. While I received an interior education, my mother tried to fill the gaps. After she read Johnny Tremain to me, I developed a keen interest in US history. At twelve, ABC aired Winds of War miniseries. After seeing that, I watched everything in the Holocaust. Also, I read many books on the subject. Not many people know this, but Adolf Hitler killed the disabled, including disabled veterans from the Great War, before the Jewish population in Europe.
Upon my high school graduation, I attended Pasadena City College, the same junior college as Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. I did not do well in English classes since I did not have a fancy writing style. It was not surprising that I did not have a complicated writing style when I did not have regular access to a typewriter or computer keyboard. Using a head stick is difficult and painful. Most able-bodied people can only write their first name before their necks are dying.
Using a head stick was liberating for me. It allowed me to earn my associate’s degree in math and US history in five years. Since I must take a math course in nine out of ten semesters, I majored in math, but I am not excellent in math. Typing a quadratic equation is difficult. I excelled in US History, mostly about the twentieth century.
About two weeks after my graduation from Pasadena City College, I decided to be a writer about the Los Angeles Dodgers. I have been a Dodger fan since 1977. I remember Fernandomania and the magical home run by Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Since 1989, I have kept a Dodger journal where I jotted down my opinions and ideas about my favorite team. I used my journal to improve my grammar and spelling. I perfected how to express my opinions.
After my family moved to rural Texas, about thirty miles east from Texas A&M, I thought I would become a Houston Astros’ fan. However, I could not get the Astros on either the radio or television. When I must pay for television to get any baseball, I decided to remain a Dodger fan. The Astros’ broadcasters were awful, particularly after growing up listening to Vin Scully.
In 1997, I got on the Internet. The first website I visited http://dodgers.com. I found out I could listen to the Dodger radio broadcasts over the Internet. Back then, America Online (AOL) had a Dodger Zone club that I joined. The group leader started a website where I wrote for it.
Since I did not like the direction of the Dodger Zone’s website (from 1998 to 2002 I did not know anyone called a website a blog), I began my website, Dodger Place.
For three years, I spent 55 hours a week to write game reports, player profiles, and editorials. Although most people do not like working 55 hours a week, I did not mind working that long since I did not have anything else to do. Television programs seemed stupid. I could not go anywhere unless Mom took me. I am one of the few people who love grocery shopping. Now I cannot go to the grocery store (even before COVID-19) since my family does not own a wheelchair-accessible van. The only good thing about COVID-19 is I can order my groceries online. I love Door Dash since I love fast food and restaurant food.
I read the Dodger pages in the Los Angeles Times daily. Often, I disagreed with their writers. I never wrote the journalists until Bill Plaschke wrote a horrid article about the Dodgers. I thought Bill was uneducated about the Dodgers. Therefore, I emailed him a 1,200-word article with statistics. To my surprise, Bill Plaschke replied to my email.
I emailed him back. I asked him, “How do you become a sports editorialist? It’s deam.”
My typo caused Bill to reply to my email. Although using my head stick was arduous, I rarely made a typographical error. Anyway, Bill visited me in rural Texas and wrote a widely popular article about me, Her Blue Haven. Bill’s article vaulted me into a writing career. Three days after Bill’s article was published, Major League Baseball Advanced Media hired me as a freelance writer. I loved my job though I did make a livable income. I worked for MLB Advanced Media until 2018.
During the summer of 2012, I discovered Amazon Prime Video. Before the Dodger game, I would watch Scarecrow and Mrs. King starring Bruce Boxleitner and Kate Jackson. For some reason, the series that ran from 1983 to 1987 captured my imagination.
From the moment that Bill discovered me, most people wanted me to write a memoir. These people do not know me and are fascinated with my disability. I do not understand this, and I dislike writing about myself. I think my disability is the most boring aspect. I am a normal person with a physical disability.
I developed a plot to a story after Scarecrow and Mrs. King series ended. Since many people wanted me to write a book, I began writing a novel. I changed the characters’ names and personalities. In November 2015 I published Revenge.
I wanted to write another novel, but using my head stick became painful and difficult. Every time I used the head stick, I got tendonitis in my head, neck, and shoulders. If you have not experienced tendonitis, you should be thankful. Tendonitis is quite painful! The inflammation traveled to under my jaw, interfering with my eating. You do not want to interfere with my eating. I love eating though I am skinny.
Although technology has advanced since 1985 when I began using a head stick, I did not find an adequate access method. From 2003, I had consulted many occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists to find a new access method. My disability makes it difficult to find access to a keyboard.
Since people with similar to physical disabilities are satisfactory to type less five words per minute, the therapists mostly do not care about the rate of communication. If they do, they find a language system (pre-programmed words and phrases). These language systems were made for young children and everyday conversations. Therefore, these language systems did not allow me say what I wanted. Also, I still had difficulty accessing these language systems.
I am typing this with a Tobii eye gaze and an ordinary onscreen keyboard. Instead of typing five words per minute, I am typing thirteen words a minute. Eye gaze does not cause me any pain. It took me two years to receive my new systems. I would like to thank Medicare, Wyoming Independent Living Resources (WILR), and Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) for getting me my new computer access system.
In March 2020 when COVID-19 shut down baseball and life, I started researching the 1918 influenza pandemic to know what to expect. I know life in 2020 differs from life in 1918, but the same principles with both viruses apply. I began developing a story involving a family in 1918. Reading historical novels has always helped me to make history more relevant than learning about history out of a textbook.
I began writing The Thompson Going Through Difficult Times. It took me four months to write it. I hope people realize we can make out of COVID-19 fine and cheerful.
Currently, I am working on a novel about the 1920s. I also run https://sarahdodgerplace.biz.
I love dogs.