And this again…

A, C, B, E, D, F, U

Sadly, it’s time to post this again. I’m beginning to think I should wear some kind of badge. It’s understandable I suppose, the folks to whom I give writing classes and lectures etc are forewarned about what they may see on the white board and in my notes, they rarely let my problems get in the way of my meaning. But on the internet folks are far more inclined to allow spelling, punctuation etc stand firmly in the way of communication

*Post below first published Nov 2010.*

Well, since I had the gall to start this conversation about piracy, I’ve had a small amount of pot shots taken at me. That’s ok, I expected a bit of a backlash and most folks have been more than kind and supportive. However, there is one particularly ugly little snipe that has (once again) lifted it’s head and, much as it wearies me to have to address it again, here goes…

I can not spell. Ok? I’ve been very very open about this, I’ve mentioned it many times online, I’ve mentioned it in radio, TV and skype interviews. I’ve talked about it with my fans. I always make a point of discussing it when I visit schools. It is not a secret.

I’m forty three years of age and I know I will never be able to spell properly. I suspect that if I were a school child now, they would tell me I was mildly dyslexic; this is just a guess on my behalf, because in my day teachers reacted by making me stand up and recite the spellings I couldn’t understand or cope with until I was inarticulate with stress, until the very thought of spelling something made me want to puke. Not very constructive, eh? Then, as I got older, they would simply deduct entire grades from my history, geography and English results based on nothing but poor spelling.

Nowadays spellcheck is my beloved friend. Unfortunately, if spellcheck doesn’t catch something, or if it makes a wrong choice, I’m screwed. Why? Because I can’t see the mistake. This leads to the occasional mistake on my blog/in my newsletters/in my replies to fan mail.

These mistakes do not make me a bad writer. They are no reflection on my vocabulary nor my understanding of language or my ability to construct a narrative. Neither do they mean that I am sloppy, disrespectful to my readers or in some way stupid. Anyone who assumes those things about me or my work based on a few misspellings is an idiot.

Enough said.


EDITED TO ADD: Check out Michelle Maloney King’s excellent article on getting through her own (extensive) education as an undiagnosed dyslexic. 

This entry was posted in rant, writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to And this again…

  1. Oh my. And these people have never spelled a word wrong. I have to say I’m the first to admit I’m the worst speller around. If it wasn’t for spell checker, I don’t know what I’d do. (Although I know spell checker doesn’t always find the word I want, so asearching I go.) I don’t fualt anyone for misspelling. Shame.

    I’m with you.

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  4. I had to remove that article as it started to come up in interviews for teaching jobs and I became too embarrassed to talk about it. I cannot spell nor do basic maths but I do not believe in labels. My brain is just wired differently. I can problem solve like Sherlock Holmes but cannot multiple. Yet I have a degree in IT from UL. I studied advanced engineering and quantum physics so I know I am not stupid. But no one understands me apart from my twin. She too is like me.

    All the normal people out there are boring. Anyone that was born being able to spell and do basic maths have tinges of blandness about them. I see it all the time as a teacher. It’s always the kids who are ladled slow are the one who can use the computer far better than the kids who do well in maths.

    I am going to republish my original post. I am a huge fan of Celine’s work, man Into the Grey still haunt me (in the best way). I think people like me are like marble tables, it all our flaws that make us so unique and priceless.

    Beir Bua
    Michelle (Spell check is my BFF) Moloney King

    • Wow. I’m stunned that your wonderful article proved to be a hindrance to you, Michelle. Please do think twice about reposting it – won’t you. There’s no point damaging your prospects in that way.

      I’m in the lucky position that I can talk about these things openly without it affecting my employment prospects, and I’m also very lucky that I get to do so to young people at a point in their life where they may recognize the symptoms I struggled with as a youth and go find help for themselves before their own futures are blighted. But the truth is, had I not been capable of earning a living from art or (ironically) my writing, my poor performance in the grade system would have led to major problems for me. (quite apart, that is, from the profound lack of self confidence in my own intelligence with which I struggled through out my education)

    • Michelle – would you prefer I re-publish it as part of this post? I can take your name off it. We can make these comments anon and you can explain- as part of the reposting- why it was you felt compelled to remove the original?

    • Antiqueight says:

      I did engineering. If it wasn’t for excel I couldn’t add (subtract or do simple arithmetic) and if it wasn’t for spell check my english would be harder to comprehend. But it has never stopped me.
      I am currently thinking about how to address this with a relative who is struggling with spelling and yet is good at english otherwise.

      • Fair play to you. I worked with a bunch of top notch accountants once. Any time we went out for dinner we we had to take a calculator with us to work out the bill. None of us could do basic maths.

      • @Antiqueight : See, that was my problem. I had an incredibly high reading age from very young ( could read from when I was barely older than 2) And also an extremely high vocabulary. Back then dyslexia was more or less thought of as ‘people who see letters backwards and couldn’t read’ (I don’t think dyscalcula was even recognized at all) so it never occurred to me ( or anyone) that I was anything other than lazy, disorganization and lacking in concentration.

        Had someone come to me early on and given me the help I needed, my educational experience would – I think – have been far less stressful. If your relative is having problems with spelling and it’s affecting thier education or how they are treated in work, I think it’s well worth approaching tem about it. (I had a young person approach me after a lecture once, to say that thanks to my having brought the subject up at a school visit, they’d realised that they too weren’t just lazy or stupid, but in fact struggling with dyslexia. They went for help – got it – and were at the moment moving on to college. It was a wonderful moment for me. To know that they had had that chance)

  5. The questions were grand, they just made me uncomfortable but it is no hindrance to me at all. I have racked up so much teaching experience that nothing is a hindrinace to me now. Here is the new link –

    Oh, and I am a fantastic teacher with the kids who find reading and writing difficult. I have so many find their voices that I have wiped the slate clean for me.

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Michelle! Do you mind if I tweet your previous comment? I think it’s important to highlight how the admission of dyslexia can adversely affect people’s lives. (PSSSST that’s the wrong link!)

  6. My bad, my head is still in a ruptured state after find out about The Edwardian Ball. Swoon!

    I noticed too late that I spelt hindrance wrong! Ah well.

    Here is the correct link

    • Antiqueight says:

      Oh! Thank you for this article. It’s great! I totally understand your comments about maths in secondary compared to primary and for me the word I can’t spell is immediately. Sometimes I get it right but I can’t count on it.

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