It’s story time.
Once upon a time, a little girl couldn’t sit still. She swung her legs all through class and wanted to run and play. But when it was time for recess, she had to sit inside because she played through class time. Her teacher gave the class a book to read and the little girl looked at the pictures and knew the words but she couldn’t sit still long enough to read.
The little girl’s parents met with her teacher and decided to give her a challenge. Instead of reading in class with all the other students, she would read the books at home and go out for recess with everyone else. The teacher let her keep every book she read at home. The little girl read lots of books, like The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where the Wild Things Are. Soon those books weren’t enough for her and she wanted more.
The next teacher made the little girl read aloud in front of the whole class. All the words got jumbled up in her head and she couldn’t follow the lines like everyone else. When this little girl looked at the page, every line got stuck together in one big block of black ink on white paper and she didn’t know where to look.
The little girl’s parents met with her teacher, who said the little girl read too slowly and she should be faster. It’s hard to follow a straight line when you can’t sit still.
The little girl went to a speed reading class to learn how to read faster. It was expensive and her parents couldn’t afford it but they sent her anyway. They wanted to help. The speed-reading teacher told the little girl’s parents that she didn’t need the class because she could read perfectly! He said the problem wasn’t how fast she could read but that she read so quickly her conscious brain couldn’t digest what she saw. He said she had a form of dyslexia where all the lines of text look exactly the same. Even though she knew what happened on that page, she had to go through every word carefully to make sure it said what she thought it did.
The next year, the little girl’s teacher put her in the advanced reading class. When it was time for the class to read, the little girl went with three other students to the library to work with a special teacher and read bigger books than the rest of the class. She read lots of books but the little girl was still unhappy. She didn’t want to be special or different. She wanted to be like everyone else.
Two years later, the little girl realized that some people make up their own stories; that real people wrote all the books she loved so much and that she could make up stories too. At ten years old, she started to write. Six years later, another teacher told the girl’s parents she was having trouble in school. She couldn’t sit still and she didn’t pay attention in class: she wrote stories instead. The girl’s parents took her to a doctor, who said she had Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and that’s why she couldn’t sit still. He said her brain moved too quickly and the rest of her was just trying to keep up. But the medicine made her tired and she stopped caring about anything.
She didn’t know how lost she was until she rediscovered words.
I struggle every day to read and write, to function. People forget that someone else would love to have half as much: a fraction of the talent, the drive, the ability to sit still and focus. It’s easy to complain when things are slightly less effortless than they were a minute ago. When things are going well, we expect them to continue and any deviation is the end of the world. Except it’s not; life is an opportunity to constantly learn and grow. This year, I’ve felt like I’m chasing the writer I used to be, back when writing was easy. I could sit in a crowded room and write page after page but now, I struggle with a sentence. The truth is, I’m not the same person as I was five years ago and that’s okay. I need to meet the writer I am today, I just have to find her.
Fiction projects: ---
Fiction words this week: ---
Lynne (our Community Liaison) will be interviewing my fellow co-founder and I in a couple weeks. If you have questions you’d like her to ask us, you can email Lynne at Lynne.Fellows@writersworkout.net.
About the author: Theresa Green is the co-founder of The Writer's Workout and a crime fiction writer.