Some days writing is hard. Actually, it’s not so much the writing, but the sitting down to write that is the hard part for me. But my hardest day writing is nothing compared to every day of writing for the former editor of the French version of ELLE Magazine, Jean-Dominique Bauby. A stroke left him completely paralyzed, except for the ability to blink his left eye.
His left eye is all he needed to write his next book. He blinked out every letter of his memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly to an assistant who held up a slate with the alphabet.
Think about it. No pre-writing. No notes. No cut and paste. No spell check. No google.
A new movie features his story and is shot from Bauby’s point of view. NPR spoke with the director, Julian Schnabel, about the film:
“Basically, there’s more than 50 different kind[s] of blinks. And until you start making a movie about a guy blinking, you don’t really notice that. You just think the word ‘blink’ means blink.”
He describes the necessity of re-creating life from Bauby’s perspective.
“I think you need to go into his world in order to get out of his world. And he said the only way he could escape his diving bell was through his imagination and his memory. Those were the only two things that weren’t paralyzed, besides his left eye,” Schnabel says.