I can’t tie my shoes. No fucking shit, I am being 100% serious right now. I am partially dyslexic. I don’t talk about it. I don’t bring it up. In fact, as a kid, I learned it was something to be ashamed of. People will look at you differently. People will judge you, so you keep this thing to yourself. My mother told me if I got ‘help’ for it it would be on my permanent record and it would affect me later in life. No lie. I kept this secret buried inside me and I struggled. I didn’t learn how to read until I was 10. My handwriting was and still is a disaster. It’s the worst and partly because I still write some numbers and letters backwards. I’m in my damn 30’s and have to concentrate on which way a b and d go and not to write numbers backwards. I don’t hand write anything because of this. I learned to see it as a failure and to keep it hidden. When I started going to college at 15 I had to bring a laptop to type my notes because half the time I can’t read my own handwriting or I write down something completely different than my brain is thinking.
I do this while typing, but it’s so much worse handwriting, and the more I rush or the faster I write the more I do it. I will start sentences in the middle or skip words. My favorite is when I meant to write one thing and my hands have a mind of their own and write some other thread of something and I don’t even know where it came from. Maybe it’s a second personality of mine fighting to come out, or maybe I’m haunted. I feel like it some days. My brain is an enigma I don’t usually try and understand.
But I am creative. I have told stories since I was old enough to talk. I had worlds filled with imaginary friends. Not just one, but I made up entire alien races and societies with other rules. I lived in these worlds and they kept me sane. They were my happy place. As soon as I learned to write, I wrote constantly, quite crudely and with nearly nothing spelled correctly mind you, but I wrote. I bled onto paper and used it as therapy. I didn’t do it to show anyone, and I probably wouldn’t have because I was embarrassed by the quality. I did it for me and I loved it.
When I was about 18, still writing just for me, no one even knew I did. I didn’t dare tell a soul. My boyfriend went through my computer while I was sleeping. (Douche bag right? Little do you even know.) He found it and read some of it. When I woke up I was mortified. This was my soul. These characters were all little pieces of myself. Like so many writers say, every character is them and not them at the same time. We infuse our characters with tiny pieces of our soul, and then we bare it to the world to be judged.
To make it worse, he wanted to be a writer, always had, probably one of the reasons I was attracted to him. He looked at me and said “You’re creative and the content is quite good, but you can’t spell and transpose words, so you won’t ever make it as a writer. You’re smart but you won’t ever be able to learn to fix this.” I had no aspirations to be a writer at this point. But I thank him for his words because I had never been great at English. I could bullshit my way through an essay no problem, but I had weaknesses and I knew it. Because of his words I made myself better. I learned and I studied. I bought every book on writing I could find. I read them all. I read books on character creation. I read books on plot and structure, and I read one of my favorites, Stephen King’s On Writing. I learned two of my most valuable lessons from him. The first was you only get better at writing by writing. And the second was to only tell the reader as much information as they need to know at that second. Be as tight-fisted with information as possible. Questions keep readers engaged.
We didn’t last much longer. He had many more faults than just telling me I would never succeed. That is a story for another day. I made my stories better for me, but also partly as a silent fuck you to him. I kept writing. Today I have 12 books published, number 13 comes out at the end of the month, and he has zero. Because he might have natural talent, but I have drive. I taught myself to overcome my disability, and doubt only made me want to be better. Do I still type tried instead of tired all the damn time, sure? (Even paying all the editors and proofreaders in the world does not find them all. I know I’ve tried.) Does my wonderful beta reader who is irreplaceable still fix these even when I am looking for them, as well as add hundreds of question marks to my books? (I really don’t know why I can’t type question marks while I write. It’s a mystery.) Sure, and I still can’t tie my shoes correctly. I will probably never be able to but I’ve learned to own my shortcomings and to accept what I can’t change about myself and to work on the rest. Because we are all just works in progress.