Warning: This Blog Post Has Not Been Spell Checked
Warning: This blog post has not been editied in any way. I have not right clicked on any squggly red lines or had this post read back to me by the computer to search for missing words. I haven’t even let Word autocorrect anything.
I am dyslexic, this is about my life as a dyslexic. My dyslexia is a fact that is not only in my offical bio but blatantly obvious to anyone I trust enough to read the raw versions on my work. This is a problem (and I do consider it a problem) that has been dogging me since day one. In might not have been such an issue, I might have gotten help or suport if I had standard dyslexia but I had to go and have special dyslexia that was only named a few years ago.
My mother (and I am aware how many blog posts I write with those words) worked in the learning resources section of my elementary school. It was her job to test and help kids who were dyslexic or had other problems. I never ended up in this groupe because I could read, I just had lousey handwritting, couldn’t read out loud, and couldn’t spell.
When I was 25 I ended up part of a research study where I was diagnosed with having dysgraphia and phonlogical dyslexia. Then the researcher had me lay down in an fMRI machine and took pictures of my brain while I looked at shapes and letters. They got very excited. Apparently I perfectly represented their hypotisis. The part of my brain that should have been reading, the left frontal lobe, was doing nothing. However the rear part of my brain designed to recognize the difference between a triangle and a hexagon was going nuts.*
My family is full of readers, the house was always covered in books, there was no question that I would learn how to read and I did. My brain adapted so I processed words the same way I would process a stop sign. What sound does a stop sign make? It doesn’t. How do you spell an octagon? You don’t. But you see that red octagon and you hit the breaks. You don’t read the word STOP then break. So up to a certin level I can read very quickly with excelent reading comprehention. As long as was I’m reading is in particular fonts. The more complicated the font the slower I go until there is no point.
But obviouslly I must have failled all those tests in elementary school because I wasn’t trying hard enough and the sloppy handwritting was just lack of focus. Thursday nights in my house were screaming and tears as I failed one practice test after another.
How were you taught how to read? Someone at some point probubly said ‘sound it out’. Fuck that. I can’t sound it out. That bit of my brain just doesn’t compute. I can know a word, use it, on a good day even spell it but then comes to moment to read in front of the class. I swear public education systems were designed around the concept of public humiliation. Maybe if all your classmates laughed at you and called you an idiot you would try harder because all your problems come from being dumb or lazy. Can’t be anything else wrong. I’m okay sounding out words like cat and dog but once you get into sion sounding exactily like tion or gh and ph sounding like F. Then add in the words stolen from the French and you get a whole special nightmear. If we could perge the English language of French spelling I’d be so happy.
For many readons, not the least of which was being informed I was either lazy or stuped repedidly, I gave up somewhere before high school. I got three Ds in English. I kept transposing numbers in math and science. Occationally there would be a teacher who would ask why I hadn’t been offically tested so I could get help and extra time, and I’d explain that it was an expensive test, that I’d taken some of the unoffical tests and passed (because I can read), and I was a district trasfer and in order to avoid going back to a school that had metal detectors I needed to not make waves. I was to fail as quietly as possible.
I did get into a four year college that had full open admission but I didn’t tell my school counsilor that. I got my mother to edit my essays for those four years. I had a Freshman English teacher tell me that she could guess the exact reading system I had in elementry school by my first essay. She pegged it exactly because my writing was good and interesting but the spelling and gramer needed work. I really liked her. I brought her coffee when she got divorced mid semester and she gave me a coby of Shrunk and White.
I got through college and graduated with honors as a theater major. My ability to spell was not as important as my ability yell at actors about the importance of being on time.
Then came the great job hunt. I read somewhere recently that most women will only aply for a job if they meet 100% of the criteria where as men will aply if they reach 60%. I’ll leave the analisys of that for another blog but I had an extra weight. There were and are to this day tons of jobs I am incredibly qualified for and would be good at except under communication skills there is often a line about spelling and puntuation. In my last job one of my more minor duties was to write up the graphics that pop up on the tv screening tell you what you’re watching and what show is next. I sweated bullets over this every damn time.
It turns out that in the state of California in order to become a substitute teacher all you need to have is a baturlars degree, a clean background check, and a blood test. This explains so much about the substitute teachers I used to have. I also learned that the worse and more dangerous the school district the better the pay. But again with the crushing imbarrisment of public education. Writing end of day notes to the main teacher in my aweful chicken scratch and spelling that only hits a seventh grade level on a good day. Not being able to read half the kid’s names at roll call.
After a year of the soul crushingness that is substitute teaching I decided to take a swing and apply for grad school. Fuck knows how I got in but I did. I had my first script teacher send me up to the disability center to get a script spell checked. They told me they didn’t do that there and I had to be listed as having a disability. I managed to beg and the nice lady there fixed a couple of errors and told me she liked the script. Here’s the thing, it’s not just about spelling a word, it’s about spelling the right word. Tinny or tiny. Wich menas something small and which means a particular type of sound. Run a spell check and immagine that you can’t tell the difference between the list of correctly spelled words on offer. I had one senior professor call me illiterate to my face in front of another student, teacher, and staff member. And this is at a world ranked university in a top program. This is how little respect you get in life if you can’t spell. I was reading college level books in sixth grade but because I regurally mixed up college and collage I was an idiot.**
But I’m a writter now. A real live publishing compney is publishing my work and have paid me money in advance for it. How can I be a writer putting out the mess you see above? I finally clued in that writting isn’t about the spelling it’s about the story. The spelling is for good friends who are willing to do a once over before you submit it in exchange for knitting. Then spelling is for the editor picked by your publisher. When the editorial department and Dreamspinner Press got a hold of me I explained my problems and suggested that they work time for an extra spelling and grammer pass into the production schedule. They actually thanked me for the worning and made sure several different people went over my manuscript for spelling problems, then my senior editor went through the marked spelling errors and made sure they were replaced with the right word so I wouldn’t be stuck trying to work out which one was right. For the final go over where it is suggested I read aloud the manuscript I got the Speak feature on Word to read it for me.*** And every time I get a royalty check, even a tiny one, I think ‘fuck you’ to a whole list of teachers over the years.
There are still problems despight a bit more confidence. There are glaring mystakes in my blog or on facebook posts. Twitter is evil about misspellings. There are still jobs I don’t apply for. I have a kid now and I live in fear of the first time I need to quickly write a note to a teacher. I’m also dreading the day I have to read The Hobbit or Harry Potter aloud. I’m doing okay wiht Hop on Pop and can even manage Oh Say Can You Say if I’m awake enough but I don’t want my kid to assume that my poorly sounded out complete misspronceations are correct. And for all manner of reasons I hope she inharited her father’s left front lobe and not mine.
*The left front of the brain is also a prblem area for bipolars like myself. Someone should really do some research on that.
** I really hate those things that pop up on the internet sometimes demanding that people learne the difference between your and you’re. It assums that everyone on the net speaks English, that they speak it as a first language, that they haven’t been fucked over by a crapy public education system, that they have full ussage of their eyes and hands and aren’t using a speach to text program, and they have a fully funtioning left frontal lobe. If you reblog one of those things you really need to go fuck yourself.
***There is nothing as boaring as a sex scene read out by a computer.