How I let my dyslexia stand in the way of my author dream – until now!

Being dyslexic, I wasn’t able to write down all the stories I had in my head so, when I was a child, I’d act them out, play them out with my Barbie’s, or draw them as cartoons.

When I was 12 years old I started writing my first ‘book’. It was a story idea that I could see turn into a book, akin to the kind I was reading at 12, about being a confused girl on the verge of becoming a confused teenager. I still have the handwritten pages, done in a fat, colouring-in pen, as that was the most comfortable for my hand to use, and it’s so riddled with spelling mistakes, it’s hard for me to make out now.

I gave that story up for another idea at 13, where I started using a typewriter. I gave up on that idea at 14 for another one, which I typed on the old DOS system on the computer. Every year, I’d mature a bit more and so would my ideas and I’d start on a new one.

In 2009, being between jobs, I managed to write my first finished ‘book’, a children’s fantasy story. (On a technicality, a story is not a book until published, and you’re only a writer until published when you can then call yourself an author).

In 2015 I wrote my second fully finished story, an adult fiction called ‘Do You Believe in Second Chances?’ about relationships and how love can change over time.

I tried to get them published the old-fashioned way, by getting an agent, who would then approach a publisher, as that’s how it’s primarily done in the UK. However, I didn’t have much luck, and I must admit, I was quick to give up and move on to the next project.

People kept asking why I didn’t self-publish, on Amazon for instance, as an e-book. It was an idea – but a terrifying idea! I wasn’t earning a lot of money, as I was still studying, and couldn’t afford someone to design a cover for me, but more importantly, I couldn’t afford someone to spellcheck my story. I couldn’t very well publish a book, and expect people to pay for it, and then have it riddled with mistakes, now could I?

Then in May, Kindle was running a competition for an unpublished story over 50,000 words. I pulled ‘Do You Believe in Second Chances?’ back out and started editing and proofreading it as best as I could.

With only a few days to go, I read all the Terms and Conditions for the competition and came to realise you had to publish the book on Kindle to enter! That meant, setting up as self-employed, get a cover done, and put your book out there for sale, publicly!

I took the jump, and on the 19th of May 2017, I pressed ‘submit’ and my book went live! I was now officially a published author! After so many years of dreaming, wishing and hoping, I had made my author dream a reality.

The book will still have spelling mistakes throughout it and formatting problems as I’m such a novice, but I did it. Instead of hoping someone else would make my dreams come true, I went for it and did it myself.

Do you have a dream that you feel your dyslexia is preventing you from achieving? Tell us about your experiences, and what barriers you feel are in the way for you achieving this dream.  Or, if you have an example of removing these barriers to make your dreams come true, we want to hear about it by commenting below.

Guest blogger
Terese Smith

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2 thoughts on “How I let my dyslexia stand in the way of my author dream – until now!

  1. Anon says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience Terese. Good luck in the competition! I think it’s really important for dyslexic adults to be represented in literature, even if we choose not to write about dyslexic characters. I find it helpful to use a text reader such as ‘Wordtalk’ (which is cost-free) to proof read my writing by listening to it. That lets me spot mistakes that I would miss if I was reading it. Wordtalk also has a spellchecker.
    There’s a programme on Pulse FM (a community radio station based in Barrhead) called ‘Booked’. It is presented by Shirley Whiteside and broadcasts every Sunday afternoon. You can also listen to it on Shirely’s Mixcloud page. Shirley interviews writers / authors who write in a wide range of genres e.g. crime, memoir, poetry, fiction, fantasy, sci-fi. She asks them about their writing and how they had it published. I’d recommend it to anyone in Scotland who is interested in literature / poetry, writing, and having their writing published. The interview is broken up into chunks with pop songs which makes it accessible for anyone who can only take in small amounts of information by ear.

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