This is the the final interview in my Dream Big series of interviews with authors who have learning disabilities. I want to thank Bethany Averie and Ryan Jo Summers for being a part of it. This week, it’s my turn to talk about my dyslexia, what it means to me and how it has affected my life.
Again, our wish is for you is to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter your learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you!
Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.
I’m dyslexic. I was diagnosed in third grade as being learning disabled. I had a very hard time reading, spelling, and am extremely directionally impaired. Left and right is still a mystery to me. North, South, East and West is like talking Chinese. I wasn’t actually diagnosed as dyslexic until I was 30. And this came after my son was officially diagnosed. I now read, and while I’m not as fast as most people, I love reading. I’m terrible at leaving out words like: an, and, the, to. I confuse words like: two and to, and too, and mail and male. I know the difference, but when I write, my mind doesn’t recognize the differences. I will leave out letters in words. I’m told that I learned to cope with a lot of my issues by relying on my auditory strengths. So I hear my words in my head, and when I use that skill, itturns off the part of my brain that allows me to recognize my mistakes. The only way I can catch my own mistakes is not to read it for about a month, so my auditory side of my brain doesn’t kick in. I cannot take notes and listen at the same time. If I attempt to write something down, my brain will not retain anything else that is being said.
Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?
I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, but in part due to it. First, dyslexic people are intuitive. We read people. We read emotions. Because of this, dyslexics are often natural born storytellers. I spent my entire childhood making up stories in my head. Not even realizing that this was a talent. This intuitive ability allows me to tap into the emotions of my characters and create stories that pull at the heartstrings of readers. Being a writer takes the tenacity of a Tasmanian Devil. Being dyslexic taught meI had to work hard, and even harder for anything I wanted. I have over 10,000 rejection letters. But because of the lessons of never giving up, I just kept going, learning, and I made it where a lot of people who didn’t have the same issues, gave up.
What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?
To this day I remember the first person who looked at me and said, “Wow, you are intelligent.” I was twenty-three years old. Because I didn’t do well in school, I didn’t realize that I was smart. It was only as an adult that I realized my disability didn’t reflect my intelligence. Parents of a child with disabilities, need to stress to their child that almost every disability comes with some good traits. Yes, it’s hard to find self-confidence when you have to struggle for something that comes easily for others. Find your gifts, and focus on how those gifts can help you succeed in what you want in life. For many, my choice career of writing may seem a difficult path, and yes, it’s harder for me than others, but because I tapped into my gifts of tapping into emotion, this aspect comes easier to me than others.
How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?
As I said earlier, I’m not a quitter. I simply refuse to give up. I sold my first book ten years after I started writing. I didn’t sell my second book until thirteen years later. I deal with dyslexia in my writing career by having people proof my books even before they go out to an editor. Yes, my publishers have line editors and copy editors who also go over it, but I want to hand them as clean a copy as I can. Even this interview will be read by a proofer before it goes to Bethany. I used to whine about never being able to write a clean copy. I spend at least 50 hours of every week writing, you would think I would have overcome my issues. But I haven’t. Yes, I’m so much better than I was before, but generally, I still will have as many as five mistakes a page. And that’s with me going over it three or four times. But I’ve learned to accept that I will always have goofs in my work.
This October 25th, Midnight Hour, the final and tenth book in my Shadow Fall series will be released. Miranda, my heroine in Midnight Hour, is a dyslexic witch. In her journey, Miranda is finally learning to believe in herself in spite of her disability.
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