I was one of those kids who was called stupid and retarded because I couldn't grasp reading and I sure as hell couldn't spell, we won't even mention math. Growing up, there was a weekly spelling test in my 5th grade class. Every Thursday I would pretend I was sick, going as far as to heat my forehead with the hot bulb from the lamp and sprinkle my face with water, even making wretched sounds in the bathroom trying to throw up. My mom was no fool and never fell for my antics, and off to school I was sent.
It wasn't until the end of the six grade that I actually finished a book—a short book, Ramona the Pest by Beverly Clearly. Eventually I read everything Beverly Clearly wrote. Things finally started to click in junior high, largely in part to my grandmother who was an English teacher and realized that I learned in pictures not with spelling or sounding things out. That's just a crazy practice.
Fast forward to today. I am still razed for my inability to spell. There are just some words that I will never spell right. The word dyslexia for one, and anything that has a lot of vowels, and just forget anything that starts with psy/phy.
How does this affect being a writer? Editing is hard, the bear of my existence, and I usually spend way more time on editing than a lot of my writers friends have to. I will see the right word and it's the wrong word. Unless someone points it out, to me it is the right word. I miss little things with my posts on social media no matter how many times I reread them, and yet I'm a writer. I should know this stuff, right? Feeling stupid is sometimes a daily struggle. I know I'm not stupid, but when a mistake is found, I am once again that defeated little girl pretending she is sick to get out of taking a spelling test.
It wasn't until I recognized my own child suffering that I starting researching dyslexia. For so long this was a thing that I was ashamed of. Well, that thinking had to change and change quick as my child was not going through the hell I did! I have mother bear tendencies. What I found was surprising and I wish I could tell all those who made fun of me the strengths that dyslexic people have.
When I got deep into the research and realized how many successful writers were dyslexics, it helped push me to take my writing seriously. The real problem was finding the courage to let people read my writing as they were going to pick it apart word by word and make fun of me. Not to mention opening myself up to REVIEWS! Luckily, I have connected with some wonderful critique partners who don't judge me, except me for my eccentricities, and for the creative visual writer that I am. Developing a tough skin over the years has helped too.
For more information about dyslexia, and a list of 25 famous Writers including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Agatha Christie—just to name a few—check out this site. http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/success-stories/famous-authors-with-dyslexia
Another great resource, and the book that changed my life, is the Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald D. Davis. Here is also a fun youtube video if you are or know of someone struggling with dyslexia. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEpBujdee8M
Tiffinie Helmer is a USA Today Bestselling Author with twelve books currently out with her thirteenth, BUSHWHACKED, due to be released on May 19th. To learn more about her and her books please visit her website at: http://www.tiffiniehelmer.com