Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dyslexia and Emotional Memory

This is a question that has been puzzling me for years. If you know anything about the dyslexic brain - either as an expert or an owner - please take a moment to write a comment below.

It's like this: I am dyslexic. I have a cluster of abilities and disabilities that fit beautifully with the classic description of the condition. But I also have one or two other attributes that seem far enough off the norm to be noteworthy, which I haven't seen mentioned in books on dyslexia. One of these is an ability to recall emotions. I call it 'emotional memory'. It is tied closely with a very strong sense of empathy - whereby I tend to pick up on other people's emotional state very easily.

I use this in my writing, of course. If I am writing about a character in a certain situation, I find I know what they would be feeling and start to feel it myself. Then all I have to do is write it down. Not always pleasant for me, but it seems to work.

I have asked experts if this emotional memory is related to dyslexia. They say 'no'. But I am not so sure. I have known several highly empathetic dyslexics. Also, I'm not sure that this would be easy to test in a scientific study. And even if it could be tested, it doesn't relate to the process of learning to read and write, so may not be of interest to the educational establishment.

So how about it? Are you dyslexic? Do you find you know what people are feeling before others do? Or maybe you are a dyslexic and don't pick up on other people's feelings. Either answer would be interesting to me. Are you an expert on dyslexia? Have you read a study on this subject that concludes one way or the other? Any input would be valuable.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

Dyslexia and Disability

It happens like this: I'm filling in an application form for a job or a writers' residency or anything that I really, really want. I go through all the stuff about qualifications and experience and why I'm the perfect person for whatever it is. And then I get to a box marked 'Disability'.

The organization I am applying to will probably have a policy of interviewing all the disabled candidates who can tick the other required boxes. Dyslexia is officially a disability. If I put a tick there, I am extremely likely to make it to the next stage.

And I should be able to tick the box. I have problems with my short term memory. I can't sequence events very well or know when a word is misspelled or remember people's names or hold visual information in my head or track the flow of time. This is my dyslexia. It is an inherited cluster of problems. A specific disability.


I don't regard myself as disabled - whatever the official description of dyslexia may say. Sure, I'd like to be able to remember stuff better and do all those neat things with time that everyone else seems to manage without effort. But I wouldn't give up my sense of three dimensional space - which seems to be another of the cluster of dyslexic attributes. (I won't call them symptoms). It is the way I experience the world. It is a sense akin to touch, in that it can feel textures. Akin to sight, in that it operates over any distance. X-ray sight, in that it can penetrate walls and ceilings, experience the texture of the bricks or slates I know to be on the other side. It is an abiding sense of the shape and feel of the spaces all around me.

What about that box on the form? Maybe I put a tick in it and write a note on the side to explain. Assuming they can read my bad handwriting.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Those CAN awards

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. Of course, that may have been said by a visual artist, rather than writers. But who knows?

Anyway, here is a picture from the recent Leicester International Short Film Festival. It shows Gav, Alex and myself proudly holding the two awards won by Pixacillus. Bav, unfortunately had had to leave before the pic was taken.

Self satisfied? Maybe. Can you blame us for enjoying the moment?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Missing Persons

Here is a blog article well worth looking at if you are interested in crime writing. A good bit of research into missing persons.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pixacillus scoops at CAN

It's gone midnight but I can't sleep, so I thought I'd post this brief message on the blog. I've just got back from the Leicester International Short Film Festival ('CAN' to its friends). My short film, Pixacillus, picked up the Audience Choice Award and the Creative Leicestershire Award. So thank you to the audience and to Creative Leicestershire for that.

I say 'my' film. In reality it belongs to BRAG Films. You can find out more about BRAG and CAN by following the links above.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Planned a Crime Novel in a Morning

A quick report back on the Grace Dieu workshop yesterday.

This workshop - planning a crime novel - is the one that gives me the most fear in prospect. What if the participants aren't responsive? What if they don't come up with any ideas for the novel plan? What if they come up with an idea that just isn't going to work?

This is the fourth time I have given this workshop, so I should know better by now (or is it the fifth?). Every group is brimming full of ideas to fit into crime novels. Worryingly, may of these ideas concern methods of killing people - though the ability to think these things and talk about them is probably very healthy. (At least, I hope so. :-) ) Either way, the group yesterday came up with a great outline for a crime story. A murder victim with a multi-layered past. Someone we don't meet in the story, but who would nevertheless have cast a long
shadow over everything that happened.

Home in the evening and exhausted. Riding the wild horse of this particular workshop does tend to leave me mentally zapped. Happy though.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Planning a Crime Novel in a Morning

On Saturday morning, I'm heading back to see my friends at the Grace Dieu writers' group to give a crime writing workshop. Perhaps I should correct that statement. It isn't really going to be a workshop about writing. We'll be playing around with crime stories. We'll be planning a novel - working out the main moments of change that will drive the story forward. But I don't think we'll be doing much writing. I suppose the term would be storycraft.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, I'm going to be attending a comedy writing workshop given by the writer Mary Essinger. That, I am much looking forward to.

And then on Saturday and Sunday evenings there is CAN - the Leicester International Short Film Festival when all the people who took part in making Pixacillus will have a chance to see it on the big screen.