Friday, 6 January 2017

To my fellow bloggers


My name is Val.

I am dyslexic.
I struggle to spell simple words. At school, my teachers saw an articulate child who was possibly a little like Hermione Granger when it came to enthusiastically answering questions. It was clear I wasn't stupid and so my poor spelling was labelled 'careless'.

That demoralising word was scrawled over most of my written work, regularly appeared in school reports and was often spoken at parents’ evenings. It made me unhappy and ate away at my confidence because I did care, I cared very much, I simply could not work out the codes that helped others spell, and I failed to detect incorrectly spelt words. How I ever passed any exams is totally beyond me, but I did. I suppose it proves that hard work can overcome almost anything. Now, in the age of word processing, spellcheckers have removed some of the stress and changed my life for the better.

I still struggle with what I call ‘too-many-words’. Dense writing is daunting and, very often, incomprehensible. I can read the words individually, but put them together and the meaning is unclear unless – and this is the weird bit – the jumble of words fires my imagination. Factual writing baffles me and most fiction is a chore.

As a writer of fiction for children and YA, I am often asked for my favourite childhood book. I never had one. I hardly ever read for pleasure. I know I missed out, and still do. I am constantly looking for a book that will enthral me, but rarely find one.

This blog is my confession to fellow bloggers. I seldom read their blogs and this bothers me. It feels discourteous.

Please forgive me.

My name is Val.

I am dyslexic.


Sue Bursztynski said...

I don't know how old you are, but these days teachers are well aware of dyslexia and do what they can to help dyslexic students. Sounds to me as if the teachers at your school were the ones who were careless!

FWIW, you aren't the only successful writer to have this. I heard Sally Gardner talk about hers at the Reading Matters Conference thr other year. :)

Sue Purkiss said...

Thanks for this, Val. It would be interesting to hear more about, despite your difficulty with words, you came to be a writer - and also about what kind of fiction does work for you, and why...?

Patsy said...

Those of us who can read and write without too much difficulty tend to take this ability for granted and be rather unsympathetic to those who struggle. We shouldn't - we should appreciate how lucky we are and be a little kinder to those who're less fortunate in this way.

Val Tyler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne Benton said...

We can only hope that teachers are a little more attuned to dyslexia these days - how frustrating it must have been for you to be labelled "careless"! Well done you for overcoming it so brilliantly!

Penny Dolan said...

Val, are there particular fonts that help to ease your reading? Or does the point size have any effect?

Val Tyler said...

For some e reason I am unable to reply to each comment and so I will reply here. Thank you for your kindness. To be honest, this is my first public declaration. It took me many years to admit my "stupidity" even to my family, but I did want to be explain myself to you.
Thank goodness everything is so much better these days, Sue B. Teachers are far more understanding now.
I came to be a writer, Sue P, because I cannot help myself. The things I write make sense to me. I have written all my life, but it wasn't until I fell ill and could no longer work that I decided see if an agent would take me seriously. At that time I had five completed novels on my computer and I chose to work on the only children's novel because it was the shortest. Initially, I didn't have the strength to sit at the computer for more than 20 mins a day, but writing transports me into worlds of my own and I am certain this helped me recover.
I used to say I enjoy books where things happen, 39 Steps is a good example, but I adore much of Alan Bennett's writing, even when it is about visiting his mother in hospital and nothing happens there. I can only say some stories click, but most don't.
I agree, Patsy and thank you Lynne.
Yes, Penny, I am better with larger print and reading out loud also helps, but that can make me look a total prat on the train!

Clara Bartlett said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.