If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My Dyslexia

Lots of people with learning disabilities make it to the top of the heap in the creative fields, so it is no surprise that Pulitzer Prize winning poet Philip Schultz is dyslexic.

I had one of those driveway moments when I was listening to an interview with him on the local public radio station. I couldn’t leave the car ‘til I had heard all of it. Then I went out and bought his book My Dyslexia. Most of the many books I have read on dyslexia were from the point of view of a parent dealing with a newly diagnosed child. This one is from the point of view of an adult, undiagnosed sufferer, like me.

You can find lists of dyslexic smart people on line, so I won’t list but two: Agatha Christie and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Neither of these people could have known why their mind was so unruly. Mr. Schultz didn’t know he was learning disabled until he was in his fifties. He thought he was just Dumb.

My mother, who loved to read, tried to teach me before I started school. She gave up in frustration and left it to my equally frustrated teacher. I was the Dumb Kid before I even started first grade. My father, who was taking education classes on the GI Bill, gave me all the tests he had at hand and pronounced me to be Smart. So, why I was I finding it so hard to read? No one knew. My label shifted from Dumb to Lazy.

Like Mr. Schultz I didn’t find out what was really going on until Dumb Lazy me was in graduate school. In an early childhood education class I came across the word “dyslexia” for the first time. I was 26.

I had one advantage he didn’t have. Mine was a family of intellectuals who loved learning. His parents were working class and bought into the Dumb Kid image.

Lots of what he lives with doesn’t fit with my particular constellation of symptoms. Some of what he said really hit home. Things I hadn’t thought of before, but which were an integral part of my life.

Anxiety is the prime symptom of a learning disability. If anyone calls my name, I am sure it is to reprimand me for something. If someone asks me to do something that is either timed or closely observed, my mind goes blank, which escalates the anxiety. Don’t ask me to do a math problem at the board. Don’t ask me to read out loud without warning.

The other thing he said was that dyslexic people are better problem solvers because they have always had to figure out ways around their short comings. They have never been able to depend on what they learned in school because it could vanish at any moment.

I have a great vocabulary because I need substitutes for common words that vanish when I need them. In the above paragraph I substituted “vanish” for “desert” because I can’t tell if there is any difference between the words for an arid place, the sweet course of a meal, or to withdraw.

I can list almost every mistake I made from the 1960s (La Scala is an opera house, not an opera), to the present (mistaking kilograms for grams) but none of the intellectual triumphs.

No matter how successful we are, we never get over feeling Dumb and Lazy.


E. B. Davis said...

I've heard that writers only hear the bad reviews and none of the good. I think that it is human nature at least those of us who were taught humility, which I think is an over emphasized concept that is often mistaken for humiliation, two very different things. I've been criticised before, and I always think as the criticiser is speaking that they aren't without fault themselves--being overly critical and putting yourself in a superior position is also a fault--which is what you have to think about when someone points out your faults. Who the hell are they, anyway?

Melinda Clevenger-Davis said...

I teach developmental writing at a community college, and a lot of my students fall into the category of under-performing writers for a host of reasons, dyslexia being among them. Sometimes I think the hardest part of my job is building up confidence. Grammar is fairly easy to fix, and a lot of my students have serious potential, but when I point that out, I usually get a "I just suck at writing" response.

Gloria Alden said...

There were a lot of learning problems that weren't diagnosed years ago. My ex had difficulty reading, but he was a whiz at figuring out a problem and fixing it. He never learned carpentry from his father, but he built a house for us with very little outside house. It wasn't until I went to college as a non-traditional student in education, that I realized my youngest most likely had AD. She struggled, but got her degree in nursing, something I would have had trouble with. I'm glad you had the support you needed when growning up, KB. So many children don't.

Gloria Alden said...

I should have proof read the last comment. That's what comes from hurrying. It should have read "built a house for us with very little outside help." I actually think I have a touch of AD, too. :-)

Billie said...

I can so relate to a lot of this! There was no such thing as dyslexia in the 70s and 80s, you kept up or you got made fun of, simple as that.

At least these days teachers aren't allowed to humiliate their pupils as much as they did when I was at school.

I write everything down, coz I know I'll forget. I put things in boxes, its harder to loose a whole box of related things than a single item.

I accept that I will spend my life looking for things I've put down and can't remember where, and that I won't remeber anything unless I've written it down. It wasn't till a chance chat with a college who I noticed also wrote everything down that I found out about Irlens syndrome. For me text is hard to make out, its as if its written on a lit light bulb. I can't see the text for the bright backgrounds.

Coloured overlays changed my world. Stuff still takes forever, but its another workaround that gets ya through the day.