Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When they say "You're stupid, give up."

So I have Blogger set up to notify me when someone posts a comment on here. This was the comment that came in this morning on my post about Note Cards:

“What concerns me is that your article here, is fraught with spelling and grammar problems. No offence but not sure I'll be taking writing advice from someone with less-than-average English skills. Perhaps you should stick to stuffing dead pets?”

My first reaction was the strong desire to give a snarky and cutting remark in return. I squelched that one quickly, it’s beneath me. My second reaction was to delete it or ignore it, but I’ve decided not to. Instead I’m going to give this a serious response it doesn’t deserve.

I'm not talking specifically to the writer of that comment, I'm talking to everyone else.

I grew up hearing comments like that all the time and, at the time, I believed them. You see I’m dyslexic. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. I don’t talk about it much because, like I said, I’m not using it as an excuse. It’s simply something I have to deal with and will have to deal with for the rest of my life. The only reason I’m talking about it here is because I have a point to make at the end.

Schoolwork growing up was a nightmare. All the words just kept flipping and jumbling in my head. I didn’t really start reading until I was ten. I remember clearly the scoffing looks from other children when I was still reading picture books when they were on to chapter books or adult level novels. I loved books and the stories in them, but reading was a challenge. I had to concentrate on each and every word to keep it from moving or flipping around.

Worse yet were the times when I had to work with other kids on some project. Invariably I would write a “d” instead of a “b” or a “3” instead of an “E” or some other jumbling of syllables. “What kind of idiot makes THAT mistake?” one of my fellow children would laugh and I would have no defense. No one figured out I had Dyslexia until my late teens. So I believed every cutting comment. Everyone else was getting this with no problem. So they must be right, I was stupid.

And that’s just what this blog commenter is saying: you’re stupid, give up.

It took me years to overcome (or at least mostly overcome) my fear and self-flagellation, to finally believe in myself enough to start writing my stories down. Even then I only showed them to close friends and family.

When I started sending stories out to critique partners I was terrified that they would see through my “disguise” and realize that I was just a stupid idiot that couldn’t spell. And when I say terrified, I mean TERRIFIED. But I had decided that storytelling was something I loved and because I loved it, it was worth fighting for.

You know what else? Those critique partners never did say I was a stupid idiot. They just corrected my spelling and asked for the next chapter, then asked if they could read my next story.

So the point of me telling you all that is this: You have to find the courage to believe in yourself, even when no one else does. And I don’t mean just your writing. I mean YOU. Believe that YOU are of value and have something of value to offer the world. Even if it’s hard and you have to fight through things that everyone else seems to get naturally. Even if no one else understands why you love this thing or that, the very fact that YOU love it makes it worth fighting for. Your happiness is worth fighting for.

If you struggle with something don’t give up. “Oh well, I guess I just can’t do it, so I won’t even try.” No! Find a way to compensate for it. There are always ways.

In the words of Terry Goodkind (another Dyslexic writer): “Think of the solution, not the problem.”

My solution is multiple critique partners that have eagle eyes for spelling and grammar. They see what I can’t. Do I bother them with every blog post? No. I value my critique partners and I’m not going to bog them down with simple blog posts.

So, yes, my posts will have errors. I spell check them as best I can, but I simply can’t see the errors most of the time. It’s not from laziness or lack of intellect. If one is bothering you, point it out in the comments and I will fix it. And if a handful of errors disqualifies for you the information and ideas I’m trying to present then… well, that’s too bad.

It’s not my job to be perfect. All I can do is be the best I can.


  1. I love your books! And I certainly don't think you are an idiot. Your stories have all the qualities that make great literature. So you have a few spelling mistakes to fix in the editing process. That is why we edit, to catch those things we missed the first time through.

    That being said, when is the next one coming?! I'm on pins and needles over here!

  2. Aww, thank you, Michel :D

    I hope to have another to you soon. I've been busy with work the last few weeks and didn't get nearly as much editing time in as I had hoped :(

    I'd have a lot more time for my fiction if real life wouldn't keep getting in the way >_>