I wrote the following piece for Parade magazine a while ago. Not everyone knows I’m dyslexic. I’ve never made a secret of it, but I don’t want it to define me either. Everyone has something they need to overcome. Some people lack self-confidence, others are afraid to speak in public or perhaps they have a physical disability. The list goes on. But if you want something badly enough, you can keep on trying to overcome whatever it is that is holding you back. You may or may not ever overcome it, but sometimes it’s not just about overcoming something, it’s about how you face it. I will always be dyslexic, there is no cure, but not only have I learned to compensate for it, I’ve improved. Oh, I still make plenty of mistakes, but I don’t let that stop me. A lot of people thought I was crazy when I decided to become a writer. That’s like someone with acrophobia deciding to become a paratrooper. Amazingly, struggling with dyslexia also taught me perseverance. It took years, lots of writing classes, and learning new ways to cope every day, but I finally fulfilled my dream of making a living by writing. It was not even a dream I had growing up, but I think that is when the small seed was planted all those years ago.
Letters. Words. Books. Everyone understood them, I didn’t. They called me learning impaired. Later, I would be labeled dyslexic. Books intimated me, but being southern, stories intrigued me. So, after school, I would head to the woods by our house, make a bed of pine straw and tell myself stories. But in fourth grade a teacher put a book a in my hands and was determined I would read it. So I took that book to the woods with me.
The stories I told myself were real life, about real people. This book was about a pig and a big gray spider. But after a few pages, that pig and that spider were as real to me as any human. It took me forever, but I read every page. Charlotte’s Web was the first “big” book I’d ever completed. Wilbur’s struggle to survive and the friendship that bonded these different characters inspired me. Charlotte’s perseverance to save Wilbur from an untimely death had me longing for a friend so loyal. And when she died, I sobbed and grieved. E. B. White taught me an important lesson of how far one could take the imagination and how emotion can bring life to any character.
It was because of Charlotte’s Web that I picked up another. That book helped me become the writer I am today. Looking back, I see similarities in my Shadow Fall series to the lessons E.B White portrayed in Charlotte’s Web: friends can come in all different shapes, sizes and even supernatural species, and loyalty between friends can heal any wound.
Now, I’d like to hear about an obstacle or problem you have had to overcome or learn to live with. Let me know in the comments below.
Last week, I asked you to give my characters middle names, and you all did a great job. I loved the names. So, it was hard to pick a winner, so it was a totally random pick. The winner is Amanda. Congratulations! Please send your mailing address to email@example.com, and I’ll get your prize out to you.