My entire life, I have been drawn to stories. Each night, my parents read to me before I fell asleep at night, and each time, I would ask for another story before exhaustion won out. When I learned how to read Braille, a world was unlocked for me where I could read everything and anything I wanted. Growing up, I loved series like The Baby-Sitters Club and The Twilight Saga and, as I grew older and more sophisticated in my reading habits, I began to gravitate toward The Hunger Games and similar books. Now, I read a wide variety of memoir, fiction, and anything that allows me to step into a world in which I get to learn something new about humanity.
My writing life began in journalism—though I was always making up stories and writing them down. For the last two years of high school and the first two of college, I made a career as a features reporter. I loved the interview process, and absolutely loved shaping the story of another into an article, but did not feel creatively fulfilled. I never realized I could have a career as a creative writing professor until a professor suggested I apply to graduate school and set my life on a different trajectory. It was not until I took my first class in creative nonfiction and began to read the true life stories of others that I realized the story I needed to tell was the one I was living: as a person who is blind and living a successful, fulfilled life despite the challenges I have faced. Once I decided to make creative writing my career, everything seemed to fall into place. It all made sense—why I have always loved stories, why country music draws me in more than any other genre with its attention to intentional lyrics, the way that I am constantly seeking to listen to the stories and experiences of others.
Now, my dreams are coming true. I am working on a memoir while pursuing my MFA at the University of South Florida, teaching brilliant students about writing and finding new ways to support the literary community. I look forward to the work I will have the opportunity to engage in with Sundress Publications and am especially passionate about highlighting diverse voices and stories over the next six months.
Nikki Lyssy (@blindnikkii) is an MFA candidate studying creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida. Her essays have appeared in Hobart, Sweet, and Essay Daily. When she is not working, she can be found in a coffee shop.
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