Disclamer: The book link is to an affiliate site, meaning I’ll get a tiny percentage if you purchase it from them, but that’s not the only reason I included it. It’s an epic book. Totally worth the read.
Recently, I chatted with a new friend about the profound influence dyslexia has on someone’s will to delve into the world of literature. It was a pretty interesting conversation.
|Taken the day I finished the zero draft of my first
novel. Still working on that, when not working on
There are enough dyslexic authors out there that if you decided to only their books, you’d probably still have reading material left over by December 31st. At the same time, there are other dyslexics who want to tell their stories, but the prospect of writing terrifies them. Then, there are others who’ve grown to hate the idea of anything word related.
The act of story telling is as much a passion as it is work. If you don’t have that dedication, becoming an author probably isn’t for you. However, if you do, there’s no reason to let dyslexia get in your way.
It’ll be difficult, but it is still possible. Here’s how this dyslexic got into it.
It Started Early
Like many dyslexics, I hated school. I loved learning, essays and hands-on projects, but the tests, bullying and many teaching methods just didn’t work.
My first two years in high school were bright spots, since almost all of my academic restrictions were removed. I could take whatever courses I wanted, study as many subjects as the year would allow and not be required to leave the mainstream classroom for remediation.
Of course, once that feeling of freedom passed, and I found myself unprepared for the outside world, fear set in. I dreaded visiting the guidance counselor during my senior year, because I knew she didn’t care. I was just another face, and one with ‘special needs’, at that. She never outright told me, but her actions stated she saw no potential in me. That echoed some of the treatment I’d received from other adults in my life, so I accepted it without question.
I went to massage school instead of pursuing writing or any of the sciences I was so interested in. It was expected of me, I didn’t know what else to do, and it seemed like it could provide me with a decent income. We made sure to disclose my dyslexia up front, let them know what I’d need, and hoped for the best.
The best didn’t happen. I got put in an empty room for testing, and one of the other students “tutored” me, but I still failed a single class, myology, by two points. Instead of allowing me to take that specific class again, they wanted me to retake the entire program, despite the fact I passed the practical courses with flying colors.
It had been the first time I’d actually failed a class, and it hit hard. Even though I was distressed, I knew what they were trying to do to me was wrong. From what I understand, they tried doing the same thing to one of my classmates who had to be hospitalized for part of the program.
I don’t know if she went back, but I didn’t.
My life didn’t get much better from there. The next school I’d attended, after moving to a new state, did nothing as far as accommodations went, which only cemented my feelings of worthlessness.
Between that and some rather nasty family problems, I left the institution in my early 20s to enter the workforce.
After School Activities
For a long time, I’d resigned myself to a lifetime of mediocre jobs, killing myself to pay the bills, and generally being miserable. My mental health deteriorated further, challenges brought on by my husband’s issues a year after we married, and the threat of foreclosure only made it worse.
During that time, I did manage to get certified to sell life and health insurance. I’d also looked into real estate sales. They were interesting in their own rights, but neither field fit.
Through it all, I continued writing in some sort of capacity, mostly along the lines of fanfiction and text-based role play. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could do anything professional with my writing. I had no degree, and I couldn’t return to college, so what good was I?
Still, I kept reading and researching on an independent basis. Eventually, I stumbled upon a book, The Dyslexic Advantage, which opened my eyes to the talents I do have, and the fact that writing could actually be a great field for me.
I’d also discovered that some ridiculously successful dyslexics, like Richard Branson, dropped out of school, but still managed to achieve their dreams.
The World of Writing
|My home office, shortly before pursuing
writing full time.
In retrospect, it’s a little surprising that I hadn’t thought of pursuing a literary career earlier.
I’d received wonderful feedback from complete strangers on my fan work, ran a role playing community with an original story for a couple years and passed most of my schooling on essays. Obviously, I had a talent and desire to tell stories, so why not use that to my advantage?
Once I stopped to look at how I resolved problems, made connections and fit into so many different roles well enough to keep us afloat, I realized there was no reason I couldn’t do that in my writing.
Since then, I’ve learned how to mimic many different literary styles, incorporate all kinds of voices and ring in on some pretty oddball subjects. I mean, my first paid gig was to write ten different short stories about those bags you put your dog’s poop in on walks. It doesn’t get much stranger than that. The client loved them, by the way, and left a great review on the site I was on at the time.
I’ve also discovered the only way I can grow as a person is to try new, intimidating things.
For example, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be trying my hand at writing a homeschooling lesson plan for another blog. I’ve been writing online copy, submitting fiction to literary markets, entering writing contests, blogging and creating informative, SEO friendly web content, for a few years, now.
Through all of this, I’ve figured out how to turn my past failures into advantages. Maybe I didn’t pursue massage therapy as a career, but I’d learned more than enough to research credible sources and write about it with authority. I may have done nothing with that health/life insurance license, but I know enough about how the system works to make informed decisions.
How The Haters Helped
On the one hand, all of the people in power who looked upon, dismissed and mistreated me did a lot of damage. I’m sure they’ve hurt others just as badly, if not worse.
On the other, they taught me what to look out for and who to avoid. I have no room in my life for others like them, and I refuse to put up with abuse anymore. They helped strengthen my resolve to enjoy my life and help others along the way.
While I realize my path isn’t suitable for everyone, I do hope it’ll help those who are feeling lost feel a bit better about their situation. We all struggle at some point, regardless of who we are. Sometimes, it feels as if it’s never ending, but more often than not, brighter times are just around the corner.