Why writing fiction really matters

“Insert!” He extended his foot…
“You sound like a Borg.” … and wriggled his toes into the sock. “That would make me a cyborg.” He paused. I could see the wheels turning. “That’s it…my recovery… the screwdriver must have damaged the wiring… and the nano-bots have been busy with repairs…”

He stopped as I sighed… to be fair, it wasn’t a bad analogy. Most of Nick’s problems are caused by faulty wiring. He is fitter than most, carries not an ounce of fat and is all muscle. Even so, there are a few of the moving parts that don’t function as well as they should, in spite of the incredible recovery he has made so far.

His eyes are one of them. And that had hit hard. Nick had always been an avid reader, sharing my ‘library’ and devouring fantasy and science fiction. Being unable to hold and read a book was a grief for a long, long time. Audiobooks never appealed to him… reading is a tactile pleasure.The Kindle reader made it possible again, though not easy; his vision is double and the two images at different ‘heights’ and of different colours to his perception. Everything he sees also bounces. At two different paces. You can imagine…

Yet oddly enough, it had been in one of those books that we had shared that we found an early key to his recovery.

Something had niggled in my memory. A book we had both read by Anne McCaffrey, “The Ship who Sang.” One small passage… a space plague that left the populace paralysed and unable to communicate. Locked in. In the book, the therapist had spoken of ‘patterning’, a technique using monotonously repetitive motion that re-educates the nerves, reforging neural pathways by reminding body and brain how to work together. We adapted the idea…

Much of the visible damage caused by the injuries had manifested in a similar manner to that caused by a stroke; paralysis down one side, weakened muscles… I did some research and Nick set to work with his usual determination… everything from strapping his feet onto a cross-trainer to pulling strange faces to reactivate sleeping muscles. The results are visible to anyone who looks at the old photographs and the new.

The trike on which he plans to complete the triathlon on Sunday is a new venture. Not only does it allow him to get out into the world again using his own muscles, giving him a freedom he has lacked for so long, it is also part of his personal take on patterning, the two pedals forcing the legs to work together equally… and, in conjunction with the physiotherapy, and the neurodevelopmental approach provided by the therapists at the Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital, already he has seen real results in his range and quality of movement.

Photo by Nick's friend

Photo by Nick’s friend

And the thing that had given us hope, right back at the start, was a book. Not a medical treatise or serious work based on research… though we read those too. No, it was a bit of light science fiction that had stuck in memory and given us a clue, a key and a place to start. Fiction had given us hope.

Books had helped with Nick’s speech too, as large print versions of Dr Seuss became the focus and the lunacy of his tongue-twisting verse engendered both laughter and healing, allowing slurred speech to become clear and articulate once more, and putting the inflection back into a voice that had been almost robotic for a while.

You can never know who will read your book or what they will glean from its pages. It may simply be a little light relief after a heavy day… it may be an escape from pain or heartache… or it may be the spark that kindles a torch to light the way forward. You cannot know the value your words may hold for a reader.

I was taught as a child that books contain all the knowledge of the world and every facet of human experience and interaction is contained within their pages. In fiction we see stories played out that may be beyond our own experience, viewpoints expressed from perspectives other than our own. For us, fiction brought an idea to consciousness, a starting point from which my son has forged a path towards recovery.

And his cyborg analogy was more than appropriate.


On Sunday 9th August Nick is riding 20km in the Para-Tri triathlon, while his physiotherapists run and swim. He is trying to raise awareness and funds for a brain injury charity.

Update: Nick raised £3000 for charity by completing the triathlon. He then went on to complete the London to Brighton cycle ride alone.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Books, Nick Verron, Surviving brain injury, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Why writing fiction really matters

  1. Cool post, Sue. Books are pretty amazing and so are brains. I think about Nick and how he is literally (in both respects) exercising his brain, creating new networks and strengthening connections. What amazing determination and it’s sounds like its paying off!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      It is almost impossible to portray the extent of that determination or how much it is working. Stubborn 🙂
      There seems a rightness, somehow, in knowing how much of a difference his love of books has made.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. blondieaka says:

    Another great post and Nick sounds like he’s finding lots of ways to do a work around what doesn’t work as it did and I wish him all the luck in the world for Sunday and the other guys who are supporting him 🙂


  3. Reblogged this on Barrow Blogs: and commented:
    Every pound/ every dollar helps – please support

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll be ‘up North’ at http://www.ww2events.co.uk/ taking a workshop and seeing Mum but I’ll think of you all and sending good vibes. Nick, you’re a star! Jx


  5. stevetanham says:

    Reblogged this on stevetanham and commented:
    Just a few more days to go before Nick attempts what would be been considered impossible a short while ago . . . support him, here, please.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is truly amazing just what the mind can create, and also achieve through reading , and writing. I wish Nick all the best in his continuing recovery. 🙂


  7. jenanita01 says:

    I have learned so much from books, Sue, but never anything as beneficial as this. Just goes to show that all the answers are out there somewhere…


  8. Brilliant. You and your son are brilliant.


  9. barbtaub says:

    Reblogged this on Barb Taub and commented:
    I’d like to add a personal challenge to all writers—and readers—out there. Our words matter. They can change lives. Please consider helping to change lives for others by supporting Nick’s campaign.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It was BOOKS that has intrigued me to learn more and explore more as I live this life and gathering experiences and wisdom. BOOKS are filled with amazing minds and a whole world complete in every pages, fitting with either the good endings or not. I am so amazed at this brave boy’s heart – he has a courage of going forward though hard. A true hero.

    Thank you for sharing this, Sue!


  11. Reblogged this on Melissa Barker-Simpson and commented:
    A beautiful post about the true strength in words. Stories connect us, and Nick’s personal journey is as magical as the stories which touch his life. Thanks for sharing, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Suzie Speaks and commented:
    I’ve read several of Sue’s posts about her very inspiring son, and after meeting her in person I’m inspired even more. I loved this post.

    Here’s a brilliant opportunity where the blogging community can help… Nick is riding 20km in the Para-Tri triathlon on Sunday – please read and support in whatever way you can…

    Go Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. trentpmcd says:

    Reblogged this on Trent's World (the Blog) and commented:
    If you haven’t read about the brutal attack on Sue’s son Nick and his amazing drive to return some semblance of normalcy to his life, after going to her site be sure to seek out those posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ionia martin says:

    He is always an inspiration and a reminder of what love and determination can do.


  15. Phil Taylor says:

    Now that is awesome. Thank you.


  16. Eliza Waters says:

    That’s pretty amazing, a work of fiction spawning an idea that works. All of creation starts with an idea after all. “Thoughts become things!”


  17. Books are amazing creatures. I’ve met some I didn’t like, but as a whole, their species is a delight to know and behold. They exist to help us learn, grow, evolve, and explore new realms beyond the reaches of our physical capacities. Bounteous blessings to you and your family. Nick’s story is an inspiration to many and touches many souls. With love and (((hugs))), MW


  18. Reblogged this on Alison Williams Writing and commented:
    All you writers and readers out there – this is why writing matters. Please help Nick reach his target, any donation can really make a difference 🙂


  19. Mary Smith says:

    Brilliant post, Sue, and I so agree with what you say about how powerful fiction can be. Plus, your mention of an Anne McCaffrey book is the second reminder this week of how much I loved her books, especially the dragon ones (oh, I so wanted to impress a dragon) which I have not read for years. Must go back to them.
    Rooting for Nick and am sharing and see others have shared from my FB page. Have you and Nick sent any press releases out? I’m sure your local (and national) press would run with the story and get more people signing up to sponsor Nick and his team.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I loved her books too… still do, and of course, you can guuess what is back on the bedside table 🙂
      A fair bit of ‘noise’ has been generated now, and the story has been picked up 🙂


  20. Reblogged this on R.R. Wolfgang and commented:
    An important message to all you readers, writers, and fiction-lovers… What you’re doing matters! Please take a look at this compelling story and support Nick in his journey.


  21. Like Mary Smith, I loved Anne McCaffrey’s books. I read ‘The Ship that Sang’ so long ago that I barely remember what it was about. But I do remember wondering what motivated her to write such a book and was impressed by it and somewhat sad too. I’m so glad it has been an inspiration for Nick. It’s so true that we never know how our words might inspire or help someone else. Those of us who write fiction don’t always think of our words like that; they are just stories after all! But I have been inspired and helped by the so-called mundane words of others.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      Our characters seldom realise they are living in a story… but neither do we. Are we not all living in a story? From a far distant ‘once upon a time’, right up to that last page? Books have shaped my world… and changed my son’s. All words matter 🙂


  22. What a fantastic distance you two (and the rest of the family) have travelled already. Your story, like the fiction you mention above, will help readers to face life too.


  23. Pingback: If We Were Having Coffee – 8/8/2015 | Trent's World (the Blog)

  24. Your son’s recovery is amazing, Sue, and so encouraging to others.


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