05 November 2021
Novelist Kate Glanville describes how being dyslexic has affected her life as a writer
At school I was very shy and very bad at spelling! In primary school I loved writing stories but always had so many red lines all over my work that I felt quite discouraged. I am also very slow at reading and writing so I never imagined writing a novel could become a reality.
I still find it hard to think of myself as a professional writer, and often forget to mention it if people ask me what I do. I think for so long it had been a secret ambition I still feel shy about talking about it. I still remember those red marks all over my school exercise books and feel I can’t possibly be any good at it!
My two sons are also dyslexic and I think fighting for help for them at school helped me to feel more confident about my own dyslexia. For the first time I felt able to say that I struggled with very similar problems all my life and instead of trying to hide and overcome my problems I felt able to talk about them and be proud of what I have achieved. I encouraged my children to feel proud of the creativity dyslexic people often have (and that they have, and I have) and not to let incorrect spelling and difficulties with writing (and maths in all our cases) hold them back in any way.
Unfortunately, although dyslexia is more recognised and understood, in education lack of funding and the pressure of performance league tables mean that children often don’t get the help they need. I had to fight very hard for both my sons to get help and to be able to achieve the qualifications they have. I had to access extra lessons out of school for both of them and eventually my eldest son went to a specialist boarding school in North Wales where I saw a whole different way that dyslexic children were taught that achieved amazing results. It made me very sad that this kind of education is not available to all dyslexic children.
I know computers have helped a lot in the last few years and in my case spell check has meant I no longer have to get someone else to write up my handwritten drafts, but it should be recognised that many dyslexic people also struggle with computers – e.g. finding a saved file can be a nightmare!
I love reading books but as I’m an extremely slow reader I access most books on Audible and listen while I decorate my pottery. I think listening to a book gives more sense of the rhythm and construction of sentences – this in turn has helped my own writing.
The Peacock House by Kate Glanville is published by Headline Accent.
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