I’m going to let you in on a little detail about my life: I have dyslexia.
You may not be able to tell. That is because after years of making myself read and stop to repeatedly write letters over and over again until writing a letter became muscle memory, I have mostly overcome the learning disability, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle in other areas. I can’t spell worth a crap without a spell checker if it’s a word like “necessary” (yes, spell checked, although it’s getting easier to write this word). Math is a foreign language to me unless I have the calculator on my phone. Writing the word “guarantee” is another pain in my ass.
This makes broadening my vocabulary frustrating as a writer. I’m managing, however. I have a thesaurus and several other books to help me with this process. I also constantly read-I read three books in the past week-and really study the syntax on a page to make sure I’m not misreading it. It does happen sometimes if I’m tired or trying to read too fast. Really, dyslexia is more of an annoyance now, than anything. I think I was blessed in that it is a very mild case. When testing for it to see if I qualified for vocational rehabilitation when I got accepted into Eastern Kentucky University, they tested me again and said I had more of a math learning disability than dyslexia.
Keep in mind, the therapist who diagnosed me with dyslexia told my parents that I would never read, write, or be able to do math. My parents more or less told that person they were full of shit. I’ll never be able to thank my mother enough for doing that for me, or for shoving a Nora Roberts novel into my hand as soon as she realized I took an interest in reading. It’s what created my love of writing, and that can never be taken from me.
Also, I sucked as a student. I’m not sure if it was because of the learning disability, that I was lazy (I have a bad habit of procrastination), or a combination of both. My GPA coming out of EKU was below a 2.5. Yes, it was part of the fact that I was lazy and procrastinated and maybe a little bit of the learning disability, but I had also just gone through a divorce. I’ve never had higher than a 2.5…
Until now. I’m a 4.0 GPA grad student. I have just uploaded the final files for my e-book version of Cheap Sunglasses, a 60-thousand something word novel. My fifth one, at that. I can’t help but think that therapist was full of shit now, either. I just saw the official grade on my student account and nearly cried. To have a 4.0 is amazing to me, and especially in a graduate level course. I just started my ENG 501: Studying the Craft course, and I’m going to come out of this one with an A, too.
If you are dyslexic, or know someone who is dyslexic, all I can say is not to give up. Even if it’s another learning disability–it comes with a lot of patience, perseverance, and just a little bit of stubbornness to accomplish what I have, but don’t think that you can’t because you’ve been labeled with a learning disability. It disheartens me when I hear someone feels like they can’t do something because of something their brain isn’t properly wired to do. So what? Find a way around it. I would have never started writing if I hadn’t finally given in, in elementary school, and started reading Goosebumps (Nora’s books came after I told my Mom I wanted to read something else). I’m so thankful I did.