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This Big Issue vendor is writing a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired sci-fi novel

Bristol seller Jack Osborne-Richardson has always been held back by dysgraphia but now his customers are helping him to use speech recognition software to write the sci-fi book of his dreams.

Big Issue vendor Jack Richardson 1401 My Pitch Frankie Stone

Jack Osborne-Richardson. Image: Frankie Stone

A Big Issue vendor is embarking on a life-long dream to write a ‘sci-fi Dungeons and Dragons’ novel after his customers helped him to overcome the learning disability that has blocked his ambitions to be a writer.

Jack Osborne-Richardson, who sells The Big Issue in Bristol, south-west England, has a form of dyslexia known as dysgraphia which affects his ability to write.

The sci-fi fanatic is an avid reader and devours up to two books a day. He has long dreamed of penning books on his own universe which he has been developing in his head since the age of 11. Osborne-Richardson described the universe as having “an anti-corporate vibe with a very hopeful edge”.

The first book follows Greg, a resident of the planet New Earth who discovers he has access to technology that is out of reach of the rest of society. 

“Greg meets all sorts of interesting characters in his efforts to both get closer to the technology and stay out of the hands of the people that are trying to hunt him,” said Osborne-Richardson, “eventually culminating in a spaceship chase.” 

“I’m a big one for choices,” he added. “I like to push my characters to the edges of what they can experience.”

Now the 43 year old’s customers have clubbed together to help pay for speech recognition software Dragon to help him overcome his writing difficulties and finally bring to life the fantastic world and hundreds of characters he has been developing.

“When I write I get all the dyslexia which means I lose letters on the keyboard for anything up to seven minutes at a time, which is an absolute nightmare. But I want to write sci-fi,” said Osborne-Richardson.

“I just know what I want to write. My campaign world was created in a sort of sci-fi Dungeons and Dragons type game when I was about 11 and people have been playing it almost constantly since then for about three decades.

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“A lot of the ancillary characters aren’t actually characters I made up myself, they’re characters that other people have played over the years so it has a certain three-dimensionality to the storyline.

“I know sci-fi and I know what’s selling at the moment and I’ve got about nine books in my head which I’ve spent years holding as a mental construct because of my dysgraphia.

“But through most of my life there has been a barrier. When I first went to school I knew that I was clever but any time I wrote anything down I looked like an idiot. That has kind of held me back all through school, all through life.”

The Big Issue vendor has not only been frustrated in his storytelling ventures, his dysgraphia has also impacted his everyday life.

It has been a barrier to simple things like filling out forms or writing a note to tell his partner he’s going to the shops.

Osborne-Richardson even had to ask wife Toni, who he met while sleeping rough, to help him type up work for his Open University degree in social sciences.

Now he hopes that he can finally achieve his dream, thanks to the support of his customers.

“I have a burning ambition to get books down. I’ve absorbed so much writing and I know I can do almost as well as what I’ve read,” said Osborne-Richardson.

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“I’ve always sort of moved around a lot but this last eight years or so has been the longest period of happiness and stability in my life. 

“I’m at a place where I finally feel like I can trust where I am going to be tomorrow enough to actually really focus on writing. I haven’t really had that space in my head to be able to do that until now.

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“The fact that I’ve got wonderful customers who’ve just rallied around me, I am constantly humbled by their generosity. They are willing to go the extra mile and do things for someone who’s essentially just a guy who sells magazines once a week.”

Osborne-Richardson is currently fundraising £300 for a laptop to use the speech recognition software. Donations can be made here.

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