Being dyslexic has its perks, but it also has its disadvantages. Take a look at the heading of this post again. How many writers would read it with horror? I know I would.
So why have I given this post that heading? Because I’m here to talk about being a writer who happens to be dyslexic and who’s in love with words.
Have you ever played the game ‘Hide & Seek?’
Words play Hide & Seek with me all the time. I can go days, sometimes weeks, writing and rereading a blog post or short story, and those words only come out of hiding when I’ve pushed the publish button. Even then, it’s not always me that spots those words. It’s somebody who has read my post and who kindly points out in an email or via the ‘Contact Hugh’ button on my blog that I’ve made a mistake. I get upset when that happens.
However, I’m not upset with the person who has contacted me but upset with the words that knowingly laugh back at me when highlighted to me.
When did it all start?
The horrors of being dyslexic started way back for me – during my school years, I heard these phases –
Hugh is a little stupid.
Hugh is slow when it comes to learning.
If Hugh wants to become a writer, he needs to try harder.
It would help us if you told Hugh he will never be a writer. He gets his words mixed up and writers don’t get their words mixed up.
Words seem to terrify Hugh.
Those were just some of the comments I heard my teachers telling my parents at the yearly school parents’ evening. Today, teachers know what the signs of dyslexia are, but some people still have trouble putting me being a writer and being dyslexic together.
But words have never terrified me. But they have (and still do) play tricks on me.
The tricks words play
Sometimes, I get so frustrated with words that it can bring my mood down and spoil the rest of my day. Why do I, therefore, write in the mornings? Because it’s when I seem to be at my most creative, that’s why. I fill my whole mornings with words, and every single one of them has the potential to bring my mood down. But it’s not the words playing tricks with me; it’s what my brain is telling my eyes.
Even the best software in the universe can’t always help. Have you been in a position when Grammarly (or another piece of writing software) highlights a mistake, yet you can’t work out what the problem is? Even though Grammarly tells me the problem, I often still can’t see why it’s a mistake. Surely I’m right, not a piece of software? That’s what happens when dyslexia jumps out of a box, pokes out its tongue, and laughs at you.
Are there any advantages of being dyslexic?
Yes. Did you know that F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Irving and Linda La Plante had dyslexia? So can I put myself amongst that famous group of writers and stand proud that I’ve written and published two short story collections, have a column at the Carrot Ranch, and have been running a blog for the past seven years where my passion for writing runs riot? Of course, I can.
But the best thing about being dyslexic is that I get repeatedly told that people with dyslexia have ‘special’ creative minds, which sometimes can spark something unusual. Something that makes the reader go, ‘WOW!’
Take, for example, Charli’s recent 99-word flash fiction challenge with the theme of ‘Meltdown.’ Are the comments on the piece I published in response to that challenge proof that dyslexic people do have something special when it comes to writing?
What I’d now want to tell my teachers
Because reading never comes easy to me, I have spent my life wrestling with words and trying to get them down on a page. I am not afraid of words or putting them together to create ideas, blog posts or fiction. Words do not terrify me. I never think “I can’t” when I try to write something. I know from experience that I can. So when I tell myself that words are not friendly, I immediately tell myself that I’m a good writer, who like all writers, continues to improve at their own pace. And ‘Practice makes perfect.’ Doesn’t it?
And it’s thanks to writing prompts like Charli’s 99-word flash fiction challenge that my writing continues to improve. Sometimes I surprise myself, but often not until the comments come in.
No, words and reading are not terrifying or unfriendly. And nor is being dyslexic a problem. No, the problem has always been the people who tell you it’s a problem.
Have you ever struggled with words? Tell me about your ‘word problem’ experiences and share with us how you got over them.
If you missed my previous posts on Diversity With A Twist, here they are.
Where do you start when writing fiction?
Are the stories we tell based on our previous lives?
Copyright © 2021 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.
Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.
Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues, including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping, and walking his dogs. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived in various parts of the United Kingdom, including London, where he lived and worked for 27 years.
Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.
His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is, “I never saw that ending coming.”
Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.
A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.
Hugh shares his life with John, his civil partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.