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Crashing Into Potential: Living with my injured brain

Crashing Into Potential: Living with my injured brain

May 24, 2018   -   Scott B Harris

For the past little while I’ve been publishing my book, so I have been a little absent from the keyboard. But guess who’s back? BOOM, you guessed it, ME! I’m back, and to get the ball rolling I’m going to talk to you about the book writing process and how the bloody heck I got this thing done. Too many words to cram into one little post so over the next two weeks, I’ll be giving you all the in’s and out’s of getting it done. So here we go.

Let’s write a book they said, it’ll be fun they said. Little did theyknow that this journey would take a whole lot more time than first anticipated, and it would turn out to be way, way, way, way, way, way, way, wayyy bigger than wehad first thought. “We”, as in “me, myself and I”.

Matter of fact, this journey blew out to 102 weeks over budget (Time budget that is… metaphorically speaking). I originally gave myself (budgeted) two weeks to get this bad boy out of my head and onto a page in a series of consecutive letters and numbers and full stops, that resembled a book. Ok, so this was a bit of a pipe dream but nothing was going to stop me, at the time, from thinking of this to be a realistic target.

This was the first challenge of my injured brain; lack of insight. I didn’t really grasp the size of the task. It’s like waking up one day, strapping on your boots and going for a hike. Quite simple (and rather enjoyable) but the next thing you know, you’re at base camp and you’re about to tackle the world’s biggest mountain. Standing there in your short little stubbies; not dressed for the occasion. It turns out that those boots are only your old Nike sneakers but nevertheless, you say to yourself, “Mt Everest, well, can’t be that hard can it?” You soon realize that you’re not in your local national park anymore and way outside your element. All you can think is, “The show must go on”, and away you go.

Now, let’s rewind to the beginning. In 2008, soon after the accident that left the family hanging by a thread, dad sent out emails to a group list, to let people know of my little to no progress from moment to moment. This was to everyone that couldn’t make it to the show I was putting on at the time. I was in a deep sleep, or a ‘coma’ as they called it, when these went out.

Fast-forward 6 years and I was ready to read what he wrote. What a surreal feeling; to read something, about a time that was so intense, written by a guy that was so close, about the emotions that you had caused, when you weren’t even conscious. I knew this would be the start of my book. So the person that started my book, theoretically, was the old man, sobbing, behind the keyboard.

I read these in 2014, and one weekend, I decided that I was going to document my journey. Not having a clue what I’d say and where I’d end, I just started writing. These emails were a godsend, turning the memories of family and friends into a matter of fact. This meant that I didn’t really need too many hands to put the jigsaw puzzle together, of the beginning of my journey.

For two days, I was playing the detective of my own life and by the end of the weekend it was pens down. The word count was hovering around 8,000 by late Sunday afternoon. Wow, I had written around quadruple the amount of words that I had ever written in my life. Not even the ‘E-‘ grade warranted that many words in my year 12 English exam. As you can see, I was never one with words at school, so this weekend of literacy therapy, kinda blew me away.

Fast forward a year and a half and I hadn’t touched the keyboard since that day. They say that a lot of people “say” they’re going to write a book, but never do. Some might even start the book, but very few will ever finish it. I wasn’t going to be a part of that statistic so it came time to finish the job that I started.

Really not looking forward to it, I decided to approach an old family friend who does this whole writing thing for a living, Miranda, and I asked her if she would kindly read what I’d written then give me a price on ghostwriting the whole thing for me. I really couldn’t be bothered writing about my journey myself, and would much rather tell it to someone else and have them do the groundwork.

This was going to work out better because I did nearly fall this whole writing gig at school. Or is ‘E-‘ an actual fall? Well, it sucked nonetheless and this is how I perceived my wordsmithing abilities anyway. She came back with some brutal news that really cut deep. She said to me, “Scott, no I will not write your book”, “You are a very good writer and you can write this yourself.” Not ready to comprehend why she’d say such a thing, I felt very disheartened at the massive wall that was in front of me. I had left base camp and was longing for someone to carry me the rest of the way.

Write it myself? No way! I gave the piece to someone else to read, “Scott, you’re a great writer.” Nope! Another; the same. So, these people are either having me on (taking the piss) or there’s a little truth to their madness. The more I was hearing these words of praise, the more I started to believe it might be, maybe, could be, maybe, might be a little bit true? Could I really write? I gradually started to come round and decided to give in.

I was going to write a book!

As soon as the decision was made, the detective work started up again.

I contacted all the rehabs, therapies and hospitals involved in my recovery and asked if I could dig through the archives to get all of my notes. All up, I put together a good 4-500 notes and started sifting through them. Each note was filled with multiple entries to read. I went through every single note from every single therapist in every single session that I had over the previous six years.

Entertaining to read, there was a slight moment, whilst reading, where I thought to myself, “Geez, I’d hate to be that guy!” Knowing the journey from back to front and inside out, and being able to physically feel the titanium plates bolted to my skull, still didn’t prepare me to see the words written on the paper.

Reading all my notes with an injured brain that can’t read that well and trying to organize my own notes on them all with the organizational strength of an unorganized 10-year-old, was a little bit tricky to say the least.

From start to finish this took me a few weeks to complete but finally I came up with a whole bunch of confusing notes that only me, myself, and I could understand. I was now ready to start the journey of writing my first book.

Knowing I was capable of writing 8,000 words in a couple of days, I gave myself just two weeks to have it done. Logic says that if I could keep up the pace, I would smash out 115,000 words in two weeks… or something like that. To me, it was just simple math. 8,000 words times 14 days equals 115,000 words. Simple! Still not knowing what I’d say or where I’d end (or how to calculate) when the gun went off, I began writing.

I’ll stop right there because it’s time to get back to work. Both you and me have shit to do. Tune in next week to see if I got this book finished.

As they say in French, au revoir mate!

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