I have struggled with my learning disability whole life. I faced bullying because of it, and I had to work around it to succeed in high school and college. To get my degree in college, I had to see a specialist to prove I had a learning disability to receive a wavier for a class I couldn’t pass so I could graduate. It’s been a burden and a challenge. It has also made editing my own memoir difficult.
In high school I couldn’t spell well. I had a bad spellers dictionary and other tools to help me with it. I continued to write even though I couldn’t spell, and in time I got better at it. Now my difficulties are understanding adjectives, pronouns, and adverbs. I have a hard time figuring out when to use a comma, how to reduce repeated words, and understanding the basics of grammar. In writing a memoir we use “I” which is called first person. I use that word way to often and I can’t figure out how to correct it.
I could easily give up editing my memoir and allow my learning disability to defeat me, but I’m not a quitter. I have taken my manuscript to my Pennwriters group. They critique it and give me their feedback. First, I just brought it to the second and forth Saturday groups while I was writing it. While I was recovering from surgery, I decided to try the Thursday night groups via Zoom. This group is called Fellowship of the Quill and they meet each Thursday.
This group has been extremely beneficial in helping me edit my manuscript. They show me where to put those commas, they give me suggestions on how to fix grammar errors, and so much more. Yet I still struggle with how to reduce those repetitive “I’s”. My friend Amy Bovaird told me it’s just a matter of rephrasing the sentences. I sit for hours staring at my screen trying to figure out how to fix them. I get frustrated.
The old negative self-doubt settles in. The scars of being bullied never go away. Sometimes the old thinking that I learned in school starts playing in my head. The “You’re dumb,” “You’re a failure,” and “You can’t do anything right” thinking resurfaces. Sometimes I feel like I still must prove myself even though I have already done that. With that comes the depression trying to sneak its way in.
It’s taken me a year or so to edit my memoir. I have worked so hard at it. I’ve struggled with it and have put my all into it. I faced my self-defeating thoughts head on, and I have argued with them. Several times I have wanted to give up, but my friends and husband refuse to let me. They remind me how far I have come.
Before I wrote my memoir, I told everyone I couldn’t write a book length manuscript. I swore I could only write short stories. Everyone encouraged me to give it a try and now I have written 397 pages and 86,850 words. It took me four years to write it, but I did it. How can I give up after all that just because I struggle with self-editing? I’m not a quitter, right? I must push forward. I can’t let negative thinking, a learning disability, and my mental illness stand in my way.
This past Thursday I brought my last chapter to The Fellowship of the Quill. I consider this a great accomplishment. The editing process isn’t finished, but I have completed the first round of editing. I finished the self-editing. I have to go through and do some corrections suggested by the group, but I made a big step. I didn’t give up despite my challenges. I pushed forward.
Once I’m done going though the groups feedback and polishing up my manuscript to the best of my abilities it will go to a professional editor. There is still a lot of work to be done to get my work in progress ready for publication. The journey isn’t over, but I’m in it for the long run.
I have been dreaming since high school to hold my own published book in my hand and I am determined to make that possible. I even have a publisher I plan to send it to that publishes memoirs. If they don’t accept it, I will find another publisher. Just because I have a learning disability and mental illness doesn’t mean I can’t make my dreams come true. They are only obstacles I must work around to accomplish my goals.
Don’t let your disability stand in your way of pursuing a dream. You can make your dreams come true if you are determined. There is always a way around those challenges you struggle with. Disability doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Take off the “Dis” and you have “ability.”
My friend Amy Bovaird always says, “Disabilities is abilities.”
Despite our disabilities we have many abilities. You just need to look deep inside you and find those special things you can do.
Because I refuse to give up, I am making my dream come true. Soon I will be dancing in the light holding my published book.