Aria Sloss is a 2007 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Iowa Arts Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Yaddo Corporation. She lives in New York City, where she is stubbornly plugging away at a novel. "Toward a Theory of Blindness" is her first story accepted for publication; it will appear in the Spring 2009 issue.
I'd never done research for a story before this one. I was always a big believer in the idea that you could imagine anything, but it became clear very quickly that I couldn't imagine the names of the trees in Madagascar or the kinds of crops Malagasy farmers grew. What was incredible for me was to feel how deeply the pictures I found through my online research affected me; working with words, it can be easy to forget how much we rely on sight.
As fate would have it, I developed an allergy to my contacts right as I started revisions on this story and had to start wearing glasses 24/7 for the first time. Like anything I try to pretend isn't there, my vanity pressed right down onto the fiction; Nick's a myopic character, and the idea that blindness might work thematically in this story in more ways than one made sense.
In the end, I felt like maybe I'd been partly right: you can't imagine all the physical details of anyone's life or home, but I do think that the bigger things—the fears and anxieties, the dreams and neuroses—are common property. Writing is nothing if not an act of borrowing what's in plain view.
Back to the bulletin.
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