Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dyslexia Benefits Writing

A couple of days ago, I mentioned three things going on in my life as a writer. One thing that has happened, one that is happening and one that might happen. But my fiction-writer's instinct held me back from telling you what they actually were. Sorry about that.

So here is the middle of the three - the thing that is happening. I am in the process of writing a book about dyslexia.

Having searched the shelves for information on the subject, I've found titles on 'beating dyslexia' on 'overcoming dyslexia' even on 'curing' it. The books may be excellent, but the titles don't make much sense to me.

Dyslexia isn't a disease. It is a pattern of brain hard-wiring that confers a mixture of problems and benefits. I spent many years trying to 'beat' my dyslexia, trying to look less dyslexic. But pretending to be what you are not is a recipe for stress. What I really want is to enjoy being what I am. To do things that use my dyslexic-wired brain to its best advantage. That is the road I've been on for the last 10 years. And that is the subject of my book.

I'm 30,000 words into it now - though I feel sure I will need to edit those back by about a third. I don't know how long the finished thing will be. Perhaps 40,000. A slim volume. But shorter is probably better for most of my intended readership.

In these days of word processors, dyslexia doesn't have to me much of a disadvantage to the writer. But could it be an advantage? I think so. It has the potential to give the writer a different take on the world. It can make the writer's voice sound distinctive and original.

Everyone has the potential to develop their distinctive talents and faculties - whether they are dyslexic or not. To borrow a metaphor from the writings of Baha'u'llah, these qualities are like buried gemstones. The trick is to figure out what they are and to work at mining them out.

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