I was asked the other day about why I choose to give out writing advice on my blog, why not choose something more profitable, more helpful, or more sell-able. The answer is simple. I want the people that care about writing to feel equipped enough to do it.
I spent a long time feeling inadequate in my writing ability. I hid behind my learning disorder so that I didn’t have to worry about failing at what I so desperately wanted to be good at. English was always my favourite class despite never being very good at reading, grammar or spelling.
When I first started going to school it was a bit of a mess, the school itself wasn’t very good, there wasn’t a lot of attention given to the children. Teachers didn’t have the time or resources to focus on any of the problems with education that their pupils were actually having. At this point, I have my mother to thank, because when she realised that after the first year of attendance I still couldn’t read (like even a little bit), she pulled me out of school and taught me herself. It was during those years of homeschooling and intensive one on one learning that I began to read for myself, I discovered worlds and adventures, and very quickly, I started to write my own. The problem was largely my spelling. Turns out I was dyslexic.
Dyslexia for me meant that words on a page meshed together, I found it very difficult to separate letters from each other, this made reading… difficult. With my specific type of dyslexia I also end up reading, writing and saying words backwards, it happened a lot when I was younger – not so much now, but when I’m tired it still occurs. I have had trouble memorising, so learning to spell was incredibly tricky. It’s taken years of practice to be able to spell most words correctly, but spellchecker and Grammarly still remain my best friends.
Reading was something I was so passionate about as a child, it opened up whole new worlds of discovery and escape for me. This meant that I got a lot of practice reading. I don’t think I would be handling my dyslexia as well as I can today if it wasn’t for my love of a great story. We found ways of preventing letters from blurring, my particular tool became a rose coloured piece of plastic to put over the page. Turns out white is kind of rubbish for my brain.
For a time I gave up writing, in those years I began to struggle with social issues and academic accomplishment. I let dyslexia become an excuse to prevent me from my own fears of failure. I ended up applying to a trade school and learning to become a chef because I felt too stupid to be able to pursue an academic path. The problem with having a learning disorder for me was not having the disorder in the first place, it was allowing the disorder to define what I was capable of that became the issue. I was allowed to be lazy and give up because I could simply say, “I tried and I couldn’t because of my dyslexia”.
Problem is I love storytelling; I have always, always wanted to be a writer. Ever since my mum read me the Narnia books, I have been making up worlds and stories and places for people to escape to.
As a teenager it was difficult to motivate myself to write, I had an ongoing novel that I worked on occasionally when the itch to write got overwhelming, but mostly I read and tried to escape my teenage years. It has only really been over the past few years that I’ve really managed to motivate myself to try writing again. I started university, an English Literature and Creative Writing bachelors, and I’m learning more about the writing trade that I so desperately want to work in.
I let my dyslexia hold me back for so long, I used it as an excuse because I was afraid of failure. Sometimes we seem so overwhelmed by our ability, or lack of, that we end up throwing out our dreams because of a minor issue (like spelling). Turns out, I’m an excellent writer, a great proofreader and a wonderful reworder of sentences. I have a way with words because I love them so deeply, they are at the core of who I am. This will sound strange to anyone who doesn’t have a love affair with the way that words look on the page, but I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without books.
Writing is one of the most powerful careers there is, I honestly believe that. Words have the power to change the world one life at a time. There will always be that book that changed the way you thought, opened you up to a new part of the world or changed your mind. We shouldn’t hold ourselves back because of disabilities or learning disorders. I wish I learned this sooner in life, I could’ve saved a lot of time away from the kitchen and spent it sitting at my desk; writing a story that someone else needs.