It seems incredible, but I was eleven before I could read with any degree of confidence. I had no idea I was dyslexic. School was a struggle - I left at 16, my only recognisable achievements were in art, art history, shorthand and typing. Academic subjects had confounded me yet I knew I had a good brain, it just worked differently to other peoples. Luckily, being marginalised at school did not traumatise me. I was a day-dreamer, everyone said so. And I was a listener, the friends of my childhood were old ladies, the lonely, often neglected women who loved to tell me their life stories. I soaked in their loves, hates and prejudices, imagined their pain and frustrations and their fears. I did errands for them, kept their stocks of cheap sherry topped up. All the time learning about the vagaries of life and existence and the power of personal myths.
Now in my own old age I think how lucky I was to be born dyslexic. It was a struggle, I was always a loner, A listener and observer, skilled in practical ways with the natural ability to sink into myself and imagine fantastic stories. I was never bored with my own company but I inherited my Ma's love of helping people and became a nurse. I couldn't take my State Registration as I didn't have the qualifications, so took the practical route and became an Enrolled Nurse.
In those early years I learnt to deal with death, be unafraid of dying. Sharing the last thoughts, regrets and fears of people was special; a gift to be treasured. Sitting quietly, with synchronised breathing during the long nights, led me into the practice of natural meditation. Really just a continuation of the day-dreaming I'd done since early child-hood when I'd escaped into my own inner world to escape from class-room angst.
Only now I was really different..I knew almost to the minute when a patient would die. I'd come on duty already armed with knowledge that had only just been written in the report book. It was a joke. 'Ask Steph........she's a witch' but no one really laughed. And eventually it was taken for granted that I 'just knew' things.
It took me years to realise that not everyone saw, heard or just knew stuff that wasn't written down or even spoken. And it took even longer to understand that 'my psychic' abilities were just an alternative way of living in and dealing with the world. I was wired differently from logical left brain people, I had learnt different skills to compensate, I had developed my own method of 'altered state' mindfulness and I could read people like books. I just had to concentrate on them to flip through their pages. If I'd wanted I could have developed a career as a clairvoyant or medium, I have played with these things but my over riding passion was to learn to conquer my fear of writing. In fact to take a further step - learn to write fiction. To become a creative writer who is proud to be dyslexic.
Monday, 25 May 2015
Been thinking about sharing this, wrote it for members of a local writing group and as a kick start for my own writing needs. I've avoided taking that ten league step into Fairy stories but have two under way at the moment. Will perhaps post a little of them later in the month.
Re-thinking the Fairy-story.
I think we can say that a lot of girls and some boys still love reading fairy tales that feature a princess in a gown being rescued by a handsome prince who is incredibly brave. In these stories the lovers overcome some obstacles, then ride into the sunset and live happily ever after. But this is old fashioned and contemporary fairy tales can have more complex themes and storylines. Sometimes the characters live in a world like ours. And they may never fall in love; not even with a toad.
To make your fairy-tale modern, set it in the present day! Forget Castles. If your fairy-tale takes place in the ‘NOW’ it allows your characters to use modern technology. Wear modern clothing and act very differently from stereotype Prince and Princesses.
And what about Magic? A fairytale without magic sounds wrong but it’s a way to put a fresh twist on a story. Think about the film ‘A Cinderella Story’ no fairy godmother here to wave her wand and transform Sam, the “Cinderella” character. Try writing a fairy-tale without magic, it can provide a more realistic story. But if you want to keep the magic that’s OK!
Update your characters. You don’t need the same cast: the damsel in distress eg., the princess, the prince, an evil king, queen or wicked witch or wizard.
A fairy tale still needs a main character for us to be interested in. But this character doesn’t have to be a princess and her love interest doesn’t have to be a prince on a white horse! Use your imagination.
If you’re writing a modern story, you can have it take place in a school where the “evil” character is the art teacher, the “princess” is a girl who’s in the school choir and her supporters who help her during her journey are her best friends and perhaps the Maths teacher! The “Prince” can be the boy who sits next to her in Chemistry class; she fancies him — but he doesn’t have to be super duper! Think Harry Potter and those specs…
There should be a subtle love interest. Most fairytales centre on true love or learning to love oneself in order to be able to love someone else. So have some type of love theme in the story. It can be about family love , friendship love or romantic love—it doesn’t need to be sloppy – you can choose! Your main character might love a Zebra or a tree that is going to be chopped down!!
What about the ending? It doesn’t need to be happy. Most people think that all fairy tales end, “and they lived happily ever after.” But a modern fairy can be different. It’s not compulsory to end your story all wrapped up just because it’s what readers are used to. As the author you’re in charge; it’s your choice how your modern Fairy tale ends! Think about that tree. Suppose the girl started a protest and some nice person from the Council Offices helped her. Maybe together they saved the tree and…………………………………………well who knows. This story is still waiting to be written.