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Duende53: Sets thoughts astir

Duende53: Sets thoughts astir

When a person dies, the first senses to disappear are hunger and thirst. On the slow decline off this mortal coil, a person will then lose speech followed by hunger. Touch and hearing will remain until the very end.

At the opposite end of life, a fetus can hear sounds as early as sixteen weeks, and more impressively, distinguish between language and other sounds.

This ability to listen is essential to understanding what it means to be human. Helen Keller once said:

I am just as deaf as I am blind... Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus—the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.
Keller with Anne Sullivan vacationing on Cape Cod in July 1888

Hearing is a two-edged sword. First is hearing, the ability for sound to enter the brain via our ears. Just as with our eyes, the sound we hear in the left ear travels across the corpus callosum to the right hemisphere's auditory cortex.

However, our brains have areas that specialise in unique skills. The left hemisphere is primarily responsible for perceiving and producing speech. Therefore, if someone suffers from damage, say a stroke, to just the left auditory cortex, they will hear yet unable to comprehend people talking to them.

Listening is the attempt to understand what we are hearing. It is the act of connecting to the "intellectual company" of others. Listening is active, it is hard, and it takes practice.

It is hard for a very simple reason. It requires the brain to rewire itself. Often what we need to listen to doesn't comport with our existing understanding of the world or another person.

Receiving feedback, particularly on something personal and that has taken time and energy, is extremely difficult and humbling.

I have a creative writing project that I just can't let go of. In 2012, it was shortlisted for a prestigious unpublished manuscript award way back in 2012 and won two fellowships. Over the years since, it was almost published, but ultimately rejected.

I have sought and received countless amounts of feedback, including from an internationally renown author. Some of the feedback was regarding the challenging structure of the manuscript. To others, this was its strength. And for a long time, I considered how to restructure it, but couldn't see a way forward without losing the essence of the story.

In a moment of fate, I sent it to one of Australia's most respected freelance editors. I had been hoping to send a new manuscript, but it simply wasn't ready. So I sent my passion project.

She agreed the structure needed reworking. I don't know if it was me or her, but something clicked. She identified a new structure, with a Part A, Part B and Part C.

In my brain, new neural connections fired where they once couldn't. I suspect this newfound acceptance of thinking in new ways is a direct response to writing this newsletter for the last year and the daily Odd Spots.

My brain is more adept at being agile.

I am redrafting this manuscript, probably for the 50th time, and I can honestly say I am writing from a place of skill. I feel like I am in control and the writing is alive with everything I ever hoped for.