Writing with Dyslexia.
Part 1. Reading.
To begin with, I’m going to start this post with a confession to a cardinal sin among authors, and it is simply that I don’t read much.
I know, shocking.
It isn’t that I’m unable to read, I can read, its just that I struggle to do so. My wife, (the current one that is, not the evil slut I happily divorced) is a typical bookworm. She can get through a large book in one day if she so desired, where as I would take weeks or several months at best. This hasn’t stopped me gathering quite a vast collection of reading material over the years. Mostly they just sit there on the shelf making it look good whilst collecting dust.
I have managed to complete a few books over my life and I’m determined to get a few more down my eyeballs over the coming years. Reading after all is as much a vital part of the writing process as the writing itself.
So what exactly is my problem?
First of all, reading, quite simply, make me drowsy. Big deal I hear some of you say! Many people read to help them pass out at night. I’m sure that’s the case for millions all over the world, but for me, reading makes me sleepy any time of the day no matter what I’m reading.
Secondly, with the drowsiness comes the other big problem in my struggle to keep my concentration. I’m looking at the words, I’m saying them in my head and to begin with, my mind is focused on what the words are describing, then my mind starts to wonder. Whilst I’m still saying the words in my head my mind is now somewhere else and I have to stop, wake myself up and start again.
It usually takes about a page or two for this to happen, and in spite of my determination to carry on, several pages later I have to stop and either go to sleep or do something else.
I deeply admire people who can just read, get totally absorbed into a book and see it through to the end. Reading for these people keeps them awake and focussed, but for me, it’s the opposite effect.
Understandably this caused me many problems in school. Back then dyslexia wasn’t considered an accepted learning issue so I didn’t get the help I needed at the time. I was simply branded stupid and left to rot in the lower classes for pupils the system couldn’t be bothered with.
Reading out loud, especially in class, is also something of a nightmare to me. I don’t stutter, but I do when I read out loud. Its as if my mind goes into a frenzy and forgets how to communicate with my mouth, leaving me stood there like a gibbering wreck who doesn’t know how to speak English. Of course this made me an easy target for bullying, which did nothing for my already low self-esteem. Because of all this I simply came to the conclusion in my childhood that I didn’t like reading and writing, so I avoided it like the plague as often as I could.
And yet, I loved books. If I found one I liked the look of and if I had the pennies, I’d buy it, mainly to observe the pictures and read the small descriptions.
Reading formed the large part of my homework and I hated it with a satanic bitterness, not only because it involved actual reading; but the books I had to read were so pathetic and patronising I just wanted to burn them. They were small storybooks for much younger kids and if it wasn’t written in my reading diary, I’d be made to recite it out loud in class. (Cue the flashback nightmares).
Since school I’ve slowly come round to the idea of pushing my way through a book or three and I find short stories are better for me to tackle than full novels, which is a shame as there’s plenty of novels I’d love to get through, and I will, eventually.
Cardinal sin confessed but am I guilty as charged? Personally I think not. In spite of my troubles with reading I know there are millions of people the world over who have it far worse than me. Dyslexia, like Autism, has a wide spectrum, from mild like me to severe. I know that some people need specially made glasses to help them be able to read, others need transparent cards of various colours to stop the words on the page moving around like an army of ants that won’t sit still.
I’ve had my eyes tested several times and they work perfectly, so my struggle isn’t in relation to my eyesight in any way.
Dyslexia is a dysfunction of the academic brain. But, by contrast, it’s an advantage to the artistic side. Among some of the most famous people in history were Dyslexic, like Einstein, Da Vinci, Richard Branson, Orlando Bloom, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, etc, etc.
Just because someone was useless in the classroom doesn’t mean they aren’t a genius at something.
The universe of authors is also riddled with the condition, such as Agatha Christie, Edgar Allen Poe, Jules Vern, etc, etc.
Dyslexics are people who can visualise with the ability to turn those dreams into something in the real world. I come from a family of artists and I’m able to draw portraits that look like black and white photographs.
And that, Guys and Ghouls, is my fight with reading. My struggle with writing is quite another issue.