June 28, 2014

My Electronic Doorway To The World Of Writing - Bruce Atchison

Though I've always loved making up stories and telling people about what I discovered, converting those ideas into print was a tedious process for me. My vision is so poor that I have to write with my nose almost touching the page. Typing was also labourious since I couldn't see what I had typed. Worse yet, my mind tends to race ahead of my fingers so that I often end up typing letters of the next word instead of those I had begun to write. My spelling was terrible too. English has so many illogical conventions regarding the way words are spelled  so it was no wonder I made mistakes.

I found the solution to these problems in 1993. Personal computers had been around for a decade but they couldn't read the screen text aloud to me without special, and expensive, equipment. Those green CRT monitors were very hard for me to read as well, even with a strong magnifying glass. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) awarded me a screen reader program and voice synthesizer module so that I could now hear what I typed and make corrections. Though I had to pay one quarter of the price of the equipment, it was well worth it. I still have the voice synthesizer, though the software won't work on PCs newer than the 486 series.

Now that I had a screen reader, I bought a second-hand IBM clone for $700.00 and WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS. What a world of writing those tools opened for me. I could type, edit, and format my work without straining to see the typewriter paper or the dim text on a monitor. The spell check function saved me from many embarrassing typos, though homophones still tripped me up. Additionally, I could listen to what I'd typed and hear grammatical mistakes.

The electronic door opened even wider for me in 1995. I took a business writing course from Athabasca University and learned to use bulletin board services. I also accessed the local public library and researched assignment topics with it.

By the end of that year, I joined the growing crowd of Internet users. News groups, web sites, and e-mail all helped me to research freelance writing opportunities. Additionally, I made many good friends online.

Though technology moved ahead, I felt reluctant to give up my 386SX computer and WordPerfect 5.1. When I bought a new computer in 2000, I still used my old faithful PC for writing articles. That lasted until the autumn of 2005 when it finally died on me. Having acquired second hand computers, I continued to use my old software on them. My three paperbacks were written with WordPerfect 5.1, as were most of my freelance articles.

My first two books are featured on the Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity (My most recent memoir) is distributed through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.


  1. Bruce, your story has to open the eyes of those traditionalists who feel technology is a hinderance, and not a help. My daughter has a similar story to yours. She broke her neck in 1999. A community fundraiser provided her with a computer in 2000. In the privacy of her room she taught herself much like you did to use that technology and open the doors to, for her, the world of web design. 15 years later she has her own booming business as a graphic designer.

    God gave us brains that could develop technology at a time when you, Bruce, could use it to get your story out there. We are all here in His perfect time, in His perfect way.

    Blessings on your continued writing! (Your book, How I was Razed, was an excellent read, by the way. I highly recommend it.)

  2. Yours is such an encouraging story of perseverence. God bless as you continue to write.

  3. Thanks for sharing some of the challenges in your journey of writing. It is inspiring.

  4. Oh Bruce. What an inspiration you are. I think I would have given up. Good for you for persisting and working your way through the maze of technology over the years. Absolutely fascinated how you graduated and grew in your technological expertise. Great post.

  5. Hurray for technology that you can use to share your story with the world. May God continue to give you strength and perseverance as you continue to write for His glory.

  6. Bruce,

    I appreciate getting to know more about your writing journey...and struggles...through this month's post.

    I'm glad that technology has made it so much easier for you to get your writing accomplished.

    As others have said, you inspire us with your perseverance and willingness to push through to get your message to the world.


  7. Hey Bruce:
    Like you, I embrace every improvement in technology, even though I am blessed to have no physical challenges.
    I applaud the comfort and ease technology gives me especially the spelling and grammar helps available.
    You don't have to be challenged to enjoy--perhaps need--those enhancements!
    Congratulations on your perseverance.


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