By Anna Lickley
Senseless is at heart an illustration of the messy unpredictability of love and life and the resilience of the human spirit.
Publication date: January 2019Buy
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Beth’s partner, Dan, inexplicably vanishes from her life and nine years later she is still struggling. In the intervening years, she has learnt British Sign Language (BSL) and got what she thought would be her dream job, supporting deaf students in college. However, she finds she still feels dissatisfied with just about everything: from working life to sex life, domestic life to social life, it’s as if the traumas of her past will forever mar her future.
Through her work, Beth meets a group of strong-minded, pragmatists who show her how they’ve adapted to challenges of having a disability.
Is Dan’s disappearance the primary source of Beth’s sadness? Can her new friends help to shift her perspective on dealing with life? Will learning BSL prove to be significant after all? And what really happened to Dan? The answers may be quite unexpected.
The themes and characters of Senseless are moulded by the challenges of deafness and disability but the book is not ‘about’ disability per se. More succinctly, it’s about ordinary people bumping through the ups and downs of life like we all are.
Anna’s adult life has been moulded a great deal by challenges on her physical health and needing to adapt to them. She was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) in the 1980s when she was 16. NF2 is a complex genetic illness involving benign tumours developing on nerves throughout the body, usually in the brain or spine. As a result, she went deaf whilst at University and began to learn British Sign Language to help with communication. She loved the language immediately and went on to became fluent enough to teach it.
In the last 5 years, Anna’s vision has deteriorated and she is now registered deafblind. That and other health complications led her to stop working. Although sad to leave a job she loved, she is now relishing having more time to write and much of her writing is greatly influenced by her desire to share the realities of living with disability.
Anna wrote and self-published a semi-autobiographical novel called Catch it Anytime You Can in 2012 and has in mind a title and plot outline for a further novel. She is in-house writer for Can You Hear Us CIC, a social enterprise dedicated to the needs of people with NF2 and also loves writing poetry, short stories and articles. Senseless is her first full-length work of fiction.
Outside of writing, she loves horse riding and competes at dressage with the RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association)
‘The Better Solutions honchos are a nasty, money-grabbing bunch of wankers Beth.’ Rick was saying as they pulled up outside her house, ‘For God’s sake, you are 34 years young. What the hell are you doing in this pissy job?’
Beth was too tired to answer after they had driven a 400-mile round trip in heavy traffic to attend the Better Solutions UK AGM. She shook her head and shrugged instead.
‘All we do is drive across half the country to care homes trying to persuade underpaid staff to buy Better Solutions bath hoists and Better bloody Solutions state of the art wheelchair ramps.’
Rick paused for breath but Beth knew he wasn’t stopping. She wondered sleepily how many times he’d said this to her in the course of the journey.
‘These people only come to our demonstrations to get the free mugs, pens, mouse mats, cakes and whatever the fuck else we have to sweeten them up with. We’re the ones feeling like bloody idiots slugging this stuff around and breaking our sodding backs in the process.’
‘I know, Rick, maybe one day I really will get round to moving on but…’
‘But what Beth? But is what I’ve been saying all my life. We both have dreams of doing something else. Why not?’
‘I know,’ she repeated, rubbing her hand over her eyes, ‘I’m too tired Rick, I’ll have to go in.’
‘Alright Beth love, I’ll see you tomorrow.’
Beth pulled herself out of his over-heated car and it was so cold that by the time she’d walked the fifteen steps to her front door, the metal door-handle felt wet to her frozen fingers.
‘Fuck, fuck, fuck,’ she chanted as she fumbled with her key, seeing a frozen cloud coming from her mouth. The only light was a faint glow from the distant street lamp but even that was obscured by an overgrown bush. There were no lights on in the house, so Dan was already in bed. He would usually leave the porch light on if Beth still hadn’t come home from a long working day. He’d sometimes leave a note on the door for her too: Come to bed immediately! Or welcome home sexy!
Tonight there were neither of those things. She was worried about Dan, he’d been in a strange, uncommunicative mood for the last several weeks. His sullen moods were very unlike him. After asking a few times if he was okay and getting the brush off, she had decided to ignore it and wait for the real Dan to come back. It was probably just work stress, he had mentioned budget cuts.
All Beth wanted now was to get this bloody rigid bra off and curl up in bed next to a calm, sleeping Dan hoping he’d wake up in a better mood tomorrow.
When she got in, the dark house was freezing. Had Dan not had the heating on at all tonight? She went to the lounge and bent to turn on the glass-fronted faux-flame gas fire, holding out her hands to the flames. That’s when she noticed the envelope on the mantelpiece with BETH written in large black letters on the front. Had Dan left a welcome note after all? He’d never used an envelope before. She lifted it down drowsily, tempted to just put it in her pocket to read in the morning. Something about the formality of the sealed envelope made her open it though. When she pulled out the folded piece of A4 paper there was just one short line in Dan’s best cursive. Bile rose in her throat as she read the words:
I have loved you so much Beth, I’m so sorry. D xx
All thoughts of sleep suddenly vanished. ‘Oh my God, Dan,’ she screamed out, ‘Dan! Dan!’
She ran to the kitchen and switched on the light, there was nothing but a discarded half-drunk mug of cold tea.
She bolted to the stairs, running up them two at a time and threw open the door to the box room they used as an office. It was empty. With a pounding in her chest, she wheeled round and checked the bathroom. It was also empty, towels slung carelessly on the floor where she had left them this morning in her haste to dress. God! Finally she threw open the door to their bedroom. The bed was unmade but the room was empty. Thank God! All she felt was relief. No Dan hanging by his neck or convulsed on the bed or slumped in a cold bath of bloodied water.
But then the relief became despair. If the house was empty, Dan was gone.
- 11th October 2018 Senseless News 20
Hello lovely supporters,
Getting Senseless ready to publish has been delayed because I’ve had to go to hospital for an emergency op to remove a growing, benign, brain tumour. The op was only two weeks ago and went amazingly well.
I had been starting to lose my ability to use language, getting words mixed up or forgetting them completely. Incredibly, the doctors got the whole nasty thing out…31st May 2018 Senseless News 18
Haven’t blogged in over a month but have been busy writing. Senseless is looking increasingly ‘book-like’ and Unbound and I are ironing out all the creases. I’m really, truly gobsmacked with how it is looking. Even though I have read it through a zillion times, I still get goose-bumps reading it and just can’t wait until you see it!
My proof reader asked Unbound to tell me that she ‘absolutely…15th April 2018 Senseless News 17
Hello, just a bit of an update on Senseless progress. My manuscript came back to me a week ago from its copy edit. Guidelines are that I would need about a week to return it. I’m always keen to get things done as quickly as possible but this week I haven’t managed to do ANY. I‘m looking forward to getting my head down from tomorrow.
The dog didn’t eat it, I do have a good reason for slacking. Last…10th March 2018 Senseless News 16
Sorry it’s been a while since I wrote an update.
Facebook reminded me yesterday that I sent my pitch to Unbound on 9th March 2017 so this time last year, I was very much on tenterhooks to know if they would accept my book. I’m not sure of the exact date I had confirmation that they would but I’m hoping FB will remind me of that too as no doubt I posted and enormously excited, OMG post…5th February 2018 Senseless News 15
Just emailed the manuscript of Senseless back to Unbound following the second and final bout of the structural edit. This time I read it through and tweaked twice more and I have to say, I welled up when I got to the end (both times!). Just so pleased with what Gill has helped me to do.
A good friend of mine referred to Senseless as my baby and it got me running that analogy through as we go along…17th January 2018 Senseless News 14
Looking at my project page, I notice the vase of daffodils next to me in the video. I made the video when I pitched to Unbound with the hope that they’d be interested in publishing Senseless.
How much has happened since then! And the seasons have been rolling in their usual manner so that daffodil time is almost upon us again.
So where are we now in this process? I have had my first insightful…28th November 2017 Senseless News 13 (I think)
It feels a very long time since I wrote that I had received my first structural edit from Gill. In fact, it was November 7th so only 3 weeks ago.
Those three weeks have been pretty full on with fitting big blocks of writing time into my normal schedule. It has meant eschewing some things- mainly email and Facebook so not that drastic.
I have worked bloody hard I must say and wrote the final…7th November 2017 Senseless News 12
More excitement here. The first draft of Senseless has been returned to me from Gill the editor.
I am very delighted with the edit. Yes, there is a lot to be done but the ideas that Gill has for bringing the story out more effectively are fantastic.
When I was writing Senseless, I felt frustrated at times as I had a picture in my head of how I wanted the book to be but somehow seemed unable…14th October 2017 Senseless News 11
I have left you in peace long enough so it is time for an update.
Note first off that, as promised, the word ‘campaign’ had been dropped from the subject line. Senseless is now 101% funded :) You can still pledge, as I said and it is not too late to become part of the project, get your names in the book when it is printed and get a copy hot off the press before it goes on sale to anyone else. Pledgers…4th October 2017 Senseless Campaign News 10
This will be the final blog headed Senseless Campaign News.
Why? I hear you ask
Because the campaign is finished!! I'm sure you got an emal from Unbound yesterday with the news or have seen my Facebook enthusiasm but just in case not. SENSELESS IS 100% FUNDED!
I feel slightly overwhelmed :) I have found the whole Crowdfunding process exhausting but exhilarating. Not only has it been wonderful…29th September 2017 Senseless Campaign News 9
Well, something unearthly is happening now :) 8 days ago, I posted how fab it was to be 76% funded. I am now 92% funded.
8% left to fund and then the publishing process will start!
Here is a brief rundown of what will happen:
1. I will be assigned an editor and Senseless will get a thorough structural edit (is my writing clear? Can I re-phrase or expand on anything to make…21st September 2017 Senseless campaign News 8
Well, wow again, we have got to 76% funded and we’re only on day 48. Time for a final push, any help with sharing the project very very much appreciated.
I had a great weekend with the Calvert Trust but no photos yet although most of the activities seemed to involve going down anyway and so definitely not symbolic of this constantly ascending Crowdfunding! Giant swings, zip wires and abseiling…14th September 2017 Senseless Campaign News 7
I usually do an update on a Friday but will be away this weekend so Thursday it will be :)
We were 66% last week and I said the next boulder milestone for me was 75%. Well, we are already at 72% and climbing. I have a little mention to Jill Lickley and Debbie Watkins who have been amazing at spreading the word about Senseless. I am sure at least half of you know one or other of them! THANK YOU…8th September 2017 Senseless Campaign News 6
We did it!!
End of week 5 (that’s 35 days) and made it to 66% funded (that’s TWO THIRDS!!!). Put that into perspective: Unbound suggest 90 days for funding a project, that’s another 55 days from now and we have already arrived in what I feel is the home stretch. Uncanny! Masterful! Amazing!
I think I have mentioned once or twice that I can’t wait for Senseless to become real? The biggest…6th September 2017 Senseless Campaign News 5
Hello! Just been looking at the Senseless project page and we have reached 65% funded! Only one little percent gets us to the 66% boulder milestone I would love to reach by Friday. (Friday marks the end of week 5 since launch date)
This time last week, we were at 56% so, again, pretty awesome.
An odd thing happened today, I was alerted to a link to an article that mentions my first book Catch…31st August 2017 Senseless Campaign News 5
I am really stunned now :) Just over a week ago, I was on 39% with 93 Senseless supporters. I am now, incredibly, at 58% with 106 of you!
Each week I think ‘pledges may slow down and plateau for a while, that’s ok’ and then you have other ideas.
Last Sunday was THE most unbelievable day. I turned on my computer in the morning (I still use a good, old fashioned desk top pc) and checked my…23rd August 2017 Senseless Campaign News 3
Hello Senseless supporters.
Wow, I hoped to get back from the weekend and be at 33.33% but I was actually at 37% (now 39!).
I mentioned that no one had splashed out to name my horse and then by some wonderful, alchemic magic, someone did! I do know who it was and know too the new name of the horse but neither will be revealed until Senseless is in print :) That is just fantastic, so many…17th August 2017 Senseless Campaign Update 2
Hello again esteemed Senseless supporters. We have now made it to 30% and the ONE THIRD milestone is in sight!
I am going away this weekend to spend some time with others living with NF2 at the Can You Hear Us summer gathering. Very excited about the indoor climbing session and meeting Llama babies (calves?). we have planned.
The best of the best would be to come back and find support for Senseless…13th August 2017 Senseless Campaign News 1
Cool news, there are 70 people on-board the Senseless Campaign! I know several people who rarely use the Internet and never use Social Media or do on-line shopping. These friends can still join the campaign by asking someone else to pledge on their behalf. The kind person who does so can then enter the pledger’s details so that their names will still appear in the book and they will receive copies…10th August 2017 You Are Incredible!
Two days ago, I was over the moon that Senseless was 12% funded and on its way towards becoming a beautiful book.
I never expected to be updating again so soon that you have just got us over the 25% mark! That is in less than a week (Unbound suggest 90 days to reach the target). At this rate, Senseless will get there in under half that time!
Let's try to keep the momentum going!
THANK YOU…9th August 2017 Thank you!
Wow! The Senseless project is already 12% funded!!
I am getting beyond excited :) is there a word for that? Thank you, you amazing people
By pledging, you are now an esteemed supporter of the Senseless project and I am so excited about sharing the adventure with you as my manuscript is transformed into a beautiful, polished book by a very gifted team of people at Unbound. This can only happen…
These people are helping to fund Senseless.
Sam Egerton - Kemp
Lynne Swarbrick Hughes