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  • Chris McMillan

Typing with toes, disabled writer Fang Yu follows her passion for storytelling

Global Times

8th February 2022

Typing with toes, disabled writer Fang Yu follows her passion for storytelling

A writer’s story

By Li Yuche

"They look at you, and their eyes say, 'you have no hope,'" said Fang Yu, a writer with cerebral palsy in Ningbo, East China's Zhejiang Province, to describe how her soul was stung before she was able to set it free from pain and people's slants after becoming enchanted with writing. The 34-year-old woman spent almost 34 years sitting down. Rebelling against life's unfair offer, she used her two toes to write stories of more than 200,000 words in total.

'Writing, the pain-killer'

Fang has had to bear the lifelong condition that has affected her movement since she was 40 days old. She was very interested in Chinese characters and writing ever since she was little, and she self-taught herself to read by reading TV subtitles during her adolescence.

An omnivorous reader, she has consumed Chinese classics by writers such as the Tang Dynasty (618-907) literati Wang Wei, as well as Western literature, of which Fernando Pessoa was one of her favourite authors.

"The first book I read, which I took it quite seriously, was The Dream of the Red Chamber," Fang told the Global Times, explaining how the book, one of China's Four Great Classical Novels, inspired her to become a writer.

She not only aspired to become a writer herself, but also saw it as a something life saving.

"I've never seen writing as a profession, but used it for pure expression. Sometimes it is a pain-killer for my mental stress, and in future, I want to use it to earn a living," said Fang.

Over the past few years, she has written and shared her works - mostly web novel chapters and poems - on platforms such as Sina Weibo and her own WeChat channel Ziyedege (子夜的歌) by using a typing method called "mouse input, a senior version iii."

The typing method that can be used on any computer device was created particularly for disabled people who have difficulty typing. It only requires mouse controls, so since 2006, Fang has been using two toes on her right foot to click on the mouse and write her works.

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