I have been diagnosed with dyslexia twice. The reason it’s twice was because my parents thought I was pulling a fast one and weren’t having any of it. They saw I could just about read and rated me as an eloquent chatterbox. But what they did not know is that I could only read something proficiently if I had first had it read to me. Then I could see how the musical notes fitted the melody and then by an act of memory get it right. Even then though, if I looked too closely to the words I would start throwing in words that I somehow imagined should be there. But my parents thought they knew better and put my errors down to laziness.
So at my next school it was only because of my entirely wild and inconsistent spelling errors that the process started over again. This time I was given an array of perception tests and again diagnosed with dyslexia. Though my parents were grateful that this exemption got me through exams I was not allowed to mention it to friends or relatives. It was a source of shame.
When I reread the first novel I actually got through, as a nine year old, I saw I had mostly imagined the text. I think I must have been in some kind of medieval trance turning pages but dreaming my own story. But very quickly my reading improved. The trick, I have already alluded to, was using a kind of synaesthesia, seeing then hearing the words as melody. Still the first read through was slow and inaccurate, so when we had play readings I always had to familiarise myself with the text first.
My spelling, though much improved, remains atrocious. Thank god for auto-correct, I almost appear civilised. Though I still fall in obvious traps – manners, manors, don’t ask me. Depending on how tired or sober I am I can be okayish most of the time. When I truly concentrate on a word the letters literally dance and lazy or not it does my head in.
What I find interesting is the almost psychic element of reading. When I get an author, even a clever author like say Virginia Woolf or William Burroughs, because I can hear their unique authors voice I can read them quickly and accurately.
But then if I have to read something I am hostile to like legal documents or medical diagnosis I see all kinds of word that aren’t there. A lot of them very rude. Double takes can be quite amusing. And last time I voted I put my cross in the wrong place. At least I fear I did. Every time I do the mental replay it seems that way. (So I ended up voting for independence anyway). If I may return to music metaphor, when I can’t follow the melody, like modern experimental music it makes no sense to me and I am thrown. Then my mechanism for overcoming dyslexia does not work.
So why on earth should an obvious illiterate like me dare to presume he could be an author? My squirming reply is that I am a post modern back to basics type trying to go back to an oral tradition. Part of my editing process( and where I find my most amazing errors) is using text to speech software. I need to hear my words read back to me. And I can verify if you hear my voice you get me. Otherwise I am just talking rubbish.
But my parents goading does at least have a tiny element of truth, I am lazy. And right or wrong, as a life style choice, I recommend it. (I don’t count the writing thing I do as work – I do it because I love it).