On Invisible Disabilities

Readers prefer to find writers that can produce multiple works, things that they will enjoy and know that they can trust because they have enjoyed previous things by that author. The current market does not favor a slow and careful writer.

In my case is not so much that I was careful, but I was extremely slow… up until now. I was a dyslexic typist, literally switching around the letters inside of words, including mis-typing my own name and words I knew how to spell. The spaces would be in the wrong places, often inside of words instead of after them. I would have to go back and fix every single sentence checking every single word. I cannot tell you how disruptive this was to me trying to write, because it would interfere with the flow of my thoughts. But I just thought I was a lousy typist; my dyslexia was only recently diagnosed.

Looking back it’s a miracle that I was able to write anything at all: a testament to my dogged determination and harder work than those without dyslexia can possibly understand. (Writing Confessions had the advantage that I knew all of the stories that were going into the book by heart, and only had to write them down, and that meant that my constant typos did not disrupt my thought process.)

So when someone blithely told me, meaning nothing but good, that they were “glad I’d finally gotten back to writing,” I just wanted to scream. I had never stopped writing or trying to write, okay?

Because of my typing dyslexia, for me, writing has been like trying to walk when others could run: walking on twisted, broken, badly-reset leg bones that made me stumble and fall. I crawled when they flew but I never stopped trying. Never.

So this past couple of weeks where Dragon dictation software gave me wings has been an amazing experience for me. It’s been the writing equivalent of my having been a paraplegic and suddenly my spine fused and I could walk. Luckily I’ve kept up the writing exercises so that my writing muscles had not atrophied, as it were.

Dyslexia is one of those invisible disabilities that no one quite understands unless they have it. A word to the wise: if you know someone who has an invisible disability (depression or other mental illnesses, posttraumatic stress syndrome, Crohn’s disease, lupus, etc.) please understand that they are already probably already working as hard as they can, perhaps even harder than you can possibly imagine, because whatever results you see took much more work against the disability than you will ever know. It’s really not polite — in fact it’s incredibly hurtful — to tell them that up until they took the medicine, found the software that helps, found the medicine that helped… Up until that point they hadn’t really been trying. (The hell they hadn’t!)

I’m trying to be polite here. What I really want to do is scream and rant and yell. Because when this…person…handed me what they thought was a compliment, they actually negated years and years of excruciatingly hard work on my part. I’m not just angry as about it. I am extremely hurt.

But the way I’m going to handle my anger and pain is to just become prolific as a writer. Because, now, finally I can. And success is the best revenge.