So, you might wonder, why did I start writing if it was always so hard? Simple. I thought I was just stupid, and I never knew everyone didn’t face the same challenges I did. I thought reading and writing was difficult for everyone, and I was stupid in all aspects of life, not just reading. My love of stories, and therefore my love of reading and writing, started long before I ever thought anything like that. It began before I can even remember.
I think, if I had not had my mother, I would never have realised the wonder of stories. She is the true reason why I fell in love with reading, and with creating my own stories as well. I don’t think it was her intention, it began with her own love of books and became my life, when it saved me from my reality.
All my life my mother would read bedtime stories to me, and just like most kids do, I loved it. She would continue to read long after I had fallen asleep, because she loved the stories so much, she couldn’t stop. If I was lucky, I could fall asleep and occasionally wake up and still hear my mother’s voice reading out loud. I loved the stories she would read to me.
She read to me when I felt scared, and I’d feel better. She read to me when I was sad, and I’d feel better. She read to me when I was hurting, and I’d feel better. The stories were my safe place, hidden away from the strange and dark world I was meant to be living in.
The stories all made much more sense to me than the real world. She would read fantasy stories, fairy tales and magical adventures to me. In the real world, people were odd. Social situations were awkward and painful to me, I never understood anything and just trying to get by every day was a constant battle for survival.
In her stories, life was simple. Heroes did good deeds, faced many trials and succeeded in the end. Villains did horrible things, and they would get their punishment in the end, much deserved. The hero had friends, who always stood by his side, no matter what he did. The girl he would marry was always obvious, and their love was pure and strong. Loyalty and honour were paramount, and the endings were filled with the perfect amount of happiness. I didn’t understand why real life couldn’t be as simple.
When books weren’t available to her, my mother would make up her own stories. Actually, even if books were available to her, she would still make her own to suit my taste, but most definitely to suit hers.
You see, I hated school very much. I was living with my mother and grandmother in the countryside. It was a nice place, on an island and close to the ocean. No shops anywhere near, but a few houses away a woman kept horses and I grew up riding one of those horses or running to the beach on hot summer days. In the winter, I would ice skate very poorly on a very small pond on a nearby field. School brought the happiness I felt there to an abrupt end.
It was peaceful with almost no people. I was already, around the age of 6 or 7, having problems socially, but I had no idea how to express it to anyone. It was at that age my friendships started becoming ever more complicated, and I was growing increasingly afraid something was wrong with me. But, unable to express my feelings, I just didn’t say anything.
I hated school too much to hide it, though. Every day my mother would walk me from our house to the bus stop, which was quite far away. Then I’d take the bus alone to the school in a nearby city. It was difficult to make me go, but my mother soon realised that if she spent the walk there making up stories, I followed her. I would do almost anything for her stories. Sometimes, she would ask me what I would do or what I wanted to happen if I could choose, which was amazing, because I became a part of the story that way.
It didn’t take long before I wasn’t satisfied with her stories but started changing them in my head, so that I liked them better. It took a long time, however, before I started making my own stories completely and even longer before I started writing them down.
That was how she got me to go to school, and I loved and dreaded the walk to the bus every day. The bus itself was torture, and I still hate buses even today. They smell, there’s people close together and the noise the bus makes is so loud to me it’s like I can’t hear anything else and my head feels like it’s going to explode. I often worry about taking the wrong bus and fear getting off at the wrong stop to such a degree that I try to avoid buses altogether.
School was even worse. I would spend my time in a state of suspended terror, either struggling in class or desperately running or hiding from my daily tormentors. I didn’t know how to make friends or even dream of staying friends with anyone, and honestly, I didn’t really like anyone anyway.
People were mean and strange, they lied and tricked you while smiling so brightly their teeth sparkled white even in cloudy weather. I liked the people I made up in my stories. I liked the me I could be in my stories, and hated the one in real life who was always hiding, frightened in a corner, leaning so hard against the wall it was a miracle I was never swallowed up by it.
I have always been a very visual person and, even without moving, I can create universes inside my head and live out lives in there. I would sit and stare into space, which I never really noticed but everyone else said was freaky, and in my head I would go on adventures, slay dragons with my awesome friends and in the end, I could fly off on new adventures like Hodja, on a magic, flying carpet.
When I got older I started bringing books with me everywhere, because then I could imagine things while pretending to read a book. Then people just thought of me as a nerd, not a freak and that was definitely preferable at the age of 12. Maybe, if I had had friends and not just my awkward attempts at forcing friendly relations with random people in my classes, I would never have fallen in love with reading the way I did. Because I always had books with me anyway, it was only a matter of time before I started reading them too. In no time at all, reading became my greatest love, only occasionally challenged by my love of video games. I would spend hours digging through the library, loving the feel of the pages and the smell of dusty old books. Best thing was, the library was always deserted, so I had it all to myself.
My only problem was that I didn’t like the way some books were written, which was especially bad when I came across endings that I hated. Some books have almost traumatised me because they had so much potential and then they ruin it all out of nowhere, like when suddenly there are so many plot holes that even a sieve holds liquids better than the story makes sense.
Like so many others on the spectrum, I tend to get rather obsessive and plot holes and poorly written endings can have me spiralling down a black hole of frustration for long periods of time.
So, I started to change the endings, or entire plots or characters, in my head. Somehow, I started creating stories in a way I hadn’t before, and I wanted to write them down.
The only reason I fought so hard to learn to read better was so that I could write my own stories and read the books I wanted. Had I known I was dyslectic, I might have given up without trying. My first short stories and book drafts were quite bad, and sadly sometimes when I look at what I write today, I am not sure I have ever improved at all.
I feel embarrassed to even dare write my words down, and ashamed, that I want to share it with others. I have tried to stop writing for more than a decade, but I just can’t seem to quit. My head is always very noisy, but when I write, it feels calm and quiet in my head. If I don’t write for a long time, the noise in my head seems to grow and I fear that I might truly go mad if I don’t express myself in this way.
You see, I do not express myself well in social situations, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. I have trouble connecting with others, and yet I want to connect with others so very badly. Writing wasn’t meant to do any of those things for me, it was just a way to escape the hellish confines of my life.
Now, however, I have given up on ever stopping to write. I simply cannot, and now I often wonder if my dyslexia really is a gift. I used to hate the world for making me dyslectic, when all I wanted was to read and write, but I don’t any more. It forced me to fight hard to learn to read and write, and if I had not, perhaps I would not have learned to express myself at all.
I am still very bad at expressing myself in social situations, but I feel comfortable and safe when I write. I feel like perhaps I can express myself here, on the page, and just maybe it means I won’t be disconnected from the world, or other people, forever.
My writing is far from perfect, of course, but it doesn’t have to be. I have so much yet to learn and I am excited with the thought. Writing was always my escape, a natural development of my love of reading. It will always be my safe place in this chaotic and strange world.