Good morning, blog readers! The exciting part about this week is you get to hear from me. The sad part is you don’t get to hear from who I had planned.
I’m going to give you a random yet important topic today. Most people think that all authors love to read. That we have loved to read from birth and we have always loved to create stories from the time we were little.
I was not one of those people.
I passionately hated reading. It wasn’t until about seventh or eighth grade that I really picked up my first book without being forced and sat down and read it. I remember in third grade my mom knew I wasn’t doing well in reading. She talked to the school and they pulled me out of class for some testing.
Now, I was great at phonics. So that meant when they had me read out loud to them, they thought nothing was wrong. What they didn’t know was I had no freakin’ clue what I had just read. None of it made sense to me.
When we had reading time in class, I wouldn’t read. I had time the other students and averaged out how long it took them to flip a page in a chapter book. Then, instead of reading, I would watch the clock and wait for those thirty-three seconds to pass before I would change the page. Just because I didn’t read, doesn’t mean I wasn’t smart.
This pretty much continued until fifth grade when I moved to California with my mom. I went to a school for three weeks, and we had reading homework. Now that I think back on it, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who had reading home. Damn mom and her cleverness of getting the teacher to assign it. I had to read for thirty minutes each night. Bleh!
As soon as the timer went off on thirty minutes, I would shut the book and go do something else. It didn’t matter if I was in the middle of a chapter, a paragraph or even a sentence. Time rang, I sprang!
Later that year, in a new school, I was given the standardized tests. Oh boy… I was in the 36th percentile. 98th in math, but 36th in reading and language arts. I absolutely detested reading. None of it made sense in my head. The words didn’t go together to make sentences or anything that would create something beautiful. There wasn’t a story in those letters—there was a massive explosion getting ready to happen of confusion, frustration and stress. By sixth grade, with some poking and prodding from Mrs. Rogers my fifth grade teacher, I had managed to increase my test score to 41%. That’s still not great.
Throughout all of this, it didn’t mean I wasn’t reading. I would read. I’d read the same stories over and over again. I think because by the time I got through it six times, I might actually understand at least half the story. But it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t exciting. It wasn’t interesting. And it wasn’t anything I wanted to be doing.
It’s hard for me to look back and see this fifteen years to the future. I wish I could have just said, “Hang in there, kid. You’ll never guess what’s going to happen!”
I have a master’s degree. I graduated with just under a 3.5 GPA, and I rarely struggle with reading now, especially if it’s reading for pleasure. I started writing. I create my own stories, my own characters, my own worlds. I started a love affair with the words I had spurned for so long.
I’m an author. Go figure! I’m a freakin’ author. Do you know how exciting that is? Do you know how rare it is? How amazing it is that I, a child who detested reading, who hated writing, who hated doing anything with a blank sheet of paper and a pen or pencil, is an author!?
It’s something I had never imagined. Something I had dreamed of in high school once or twice, and something I never ever thought would happen. My high school senior project was on the publishing industry. It was just at the cusp of a great change. Self-publishing was becoming a viable solution to rejection letters from the big publishing houses.
For six years I didn’t look at the industry. There was a massive change! Small press publishers were around in floods. Self-pubbers knew exactly what they were doing (for the most part since it’s still all a guessing game). I wrote so much, but I had never published anything. It wasn’t until a publishing contract dropped in my lap that my past struggle with reading and words vanished.
I write about three books a year. For being a full-time student with a part-time job, I think that was pretty darn good. Now that I’m in transition once again, I wonder how much I’ll be able to write. I wonder if my love affair with words will fizzle out and the passion be lost.
5 thoughts on “A love affair with words…”
My daughter learned to read, without a single lesson, but in a house full of things to read and people who read (and, in my case, wrote) them. She was just about 8.
She;ll be 10 in a few days, and she can read pretty much anything she’s inclined to. She leans toward non-fiction (venomous predators and natural disasters are favorites!), and doesn’t care whether her reading material was intended for kids or adults.
This was possible because she’s never gone to school. I know a lot of later readers, so I wasn’t worried about it. But, if she had been in school, she would almost certainly have been labeled as a slow learner or problem reader or something else that would have made her feel that there was something wrong with her. Being forced to read what others decided she should, for set amounts of time, would NOT sit well with her, either, because she KNOWS what she wants to read, and when, and where, and for how long.
I wonder if that was the issue for you- others deciding the whys, whens, and wherefores of your reading, so that you couldn’t become ready in your own time, and through your own choices. I wonder how many others that’s also true for…
I love that you found your own passion for words, in your own way. =)
My issue was more that it didn’t make sense to me. I still don’t have the greatest reading comprehension and that bleeds into my writing.
I’ve known other people with similar difficulties. I still wonder whether the way schools approach reading, as though it can happen at the same age and in the same way for everyone, has something to do with it.
Interestingly, unschooled kids learn at a wide variety of ages. Some are as old as 16 when they learn, if given freedom to learn in their own way and time. They catch up very quickly to the level of their spoken vocabulary.
I’m pretty sure that without the school forcing me, I never would have learned.
It’s possible – but I know dozens of unschooling families, and every child has in fact learned, without force.
Thing is, of course, that there’s no way to know for sure. But what’s really important is that you found your way to a love that offers you not only pleasure, but avocation and a voice, too.
That’s something to celebrate, however it happened! =D