The Dyslexic Writer

So, as my novel Tangled Paths comes up for line editing this week, and I begin suffering from irrational nightmares of my characters being stabbed to death with red pens (seriously, I have one really screwy subconscious) I decided it might be prudent to explore the depths and reasoning behind such illogical anxiety.   And it is illogical– my editors and publisher at Red Adept are very good at their jobs, and I trust them very much to do an excellent job on my book– so why the fear?  Why the loss of sleep?  The answer, when I reached for it, surprised me, for its not something I thought still bothered me.

I’m dyslexic.

For those of you unawares, dyslexia is a learning disability where in the brain doesn’t recognize letters (and sometimes numbers and other stuff) in the correct way–sometimes we’ll reverse letters, sometimes we just don’t recognize them, and sometimes words will literally just fall off the page in front of our eyes and scare the crap out of us. (that happened to me in 3rd grade– I thought my eyes were melting)  We also tend to be repetitive in expressing ourselves, often repeating the same idea in different ways in the same sentence.  The symptoms can vary extensively, and it can also be coupled with other learning disabilities like ADD and ADHD, amongst others.  For me, I can’t tell the difference visually between ‘defiantly’ and ‘definably’, and things in the CoG coding like > and < fly by me without me realizing I did it wrong.  I check, and double check, and triple and quadruple check to the best of my ability, but in the end there are still mistakes, no matter what I do.  And I’ve learned to accept that.

Nowadays for me it’s more a minor inconvenience, what with spell check and the dwindling of proper English on the internets, but when I was younger it was a different matter.  I was actually told at the age of 11 that “you aren’t a writer, J, because writers can spell.”  That sea of red corrections, of getting a ‘C’ on a test instead of and ‘A’ because I put my e’s before my i’s again.  It was heart-wrenching, the assumption from my teachers and peers that I was either stupid or lazy, because I seemed to understand, but just couldn’t seem to do it right.  But the issue was my brain, I literally couldn’t see it correctly.

And I still can’t; not without extreme effort on my part.

So this is why my heart flutters and I feel sick, seeing my novel ‘go under the knife’ as it were in line editing, despite the fact that I have a really, really great editor that I trust doing the job.  I know it needs to happen, for the sake of my poor readers’ sanity–but even as I am so many years removed from that moment, I can’t seem to shake those words: “writers can spell”.  I can’t totally shake the sense that I’ve somehow done something wrong, have somehow not lived up to an expectation, all because I put ‘right’ instead of ‘write’ somewhere. Well, I can’t spell without help, I don’t use proper grammar half the time out of sheer lack of ability to retain what ‘proper grammar’ is, and ya know what?

I’m a writer anyways.


Posted on October 22, 2013, in Author's Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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