This is the final installment of our mini series of authors discussing our experiences with learning disabilities. Today author Christy Craig is sharing her thoughts. Welcome Christy.
There are young people in the world struggling with learning differences (sometimes called learning disabilities) who may or may not feel they aren’t as good as those who don’t have these disabilities/challenges.
The three of us—Bethany Averie, Ryan Jo Summers, and Christie Craig—have all faced learning disabilities/difficulties and based on our personal experiences, and what we see in the world today, were inspired to share our own stories with you.
Our wish is for you teens and young adults to never be afraid to dream big. In a world where less than someone’s definition of perfect can mean the difference between acceptance and rejection, we want you to stand up and pursue those dreams no matter if you do face learning disabilities/difficulties. Don’t let those things stop you. If we can do it, so you can you.
Given the sensitive nature of this topic, we ask that those who choose to comment only post positive and encouraging comments. We’re wanting to build people up and inspire them, not bring them down.
So, here are our stories, and we wish you all the best.
Briefly tell us about yourself (your name, your YA story titles, anything else you wish to say about yourself):
My name is Christie Craig. I’m an Alabamian who now hangs my hat in Texas. My thirty-fifth book will be released in October. I write under two names. As Christie Craig, I write humorous romantic suspense. My young adult books are written under C. C. Hunter. In addition to writing, I do writing workshops. And in my other life I was a freelance writer and photo journalist. I’m a mom, a wife, and a lover of wine, walking, and traveling. My life policy is if you want something, go make it happen. And never, ever give up.
What are your learning disabilities/difficulties and do you remember how/when you were diagnosed?
I’m dyslexic. I was diagnosed in third grade as being learning disabled. I had a very hard time reading, spelling, and am extremely directionally impaired. Left and right is still a mystery to me. North, South, East and West is like talking Chinese. I wasn’t actually diagnosed as dyslexic until I was 30. And this came after my son was officially diagnosed. I now read, and while I’m not as fast as most people, I love reading. I’m terrible at leaving out words like: an, and, the, and to. I confuse words like: two and to, and too, and mail and male. I know the difference, but when I write, my mind doesn’t recognize the differences. I will leave out letters in words. I’m told that I learned to cope with a lot of my issues by relying on my auditory strengths. So I hear my words in my head, and when I use that skill, it turns off the part of my brain that allows me to recognize my mistakes. The only way I can catch my own mistakes is not to read it for about a month, so my auditory side of my brain doesn’t kick in. I cannot take notes and listen at the same time. If I attempt to write something down, my brain will not retain anything else that is being said.
Since finding out, what are your emotions towards your learning disabilities/difficulties? Why?
First let me say, I don’t think I’ve accomplished what I have in spite of dyslexia, but in part due to it. Most Dyslexic people are intuitive. We read people. We read emotions. Because of this, dyslexics are often natural born storytellers. I spent my entire childhood making up stories in my head. Not even realizing that this was a talent. This intuitive ability allows me to tap into the emotions of my characters and create stories that pull at the heartstrings of readers. Being a writer takes the tenacity of a Tasmanian Devil. Being dyslexic taught me I had to work hard, and even harder that others for anything I wanted. I have over 10,000 rejection letters. But because of the lessons of never giving up, I just kept going, learning, and I made it where a lot of people who didn’t have the same issues, gave up.
What would you say to someone who has them who thinks they’re not as good as other people because they have learning disabilities/difficulties?
To this day I remember the first person who looked at me and said, “Wow, you are intelligent.” I was twenty-three years old. Because I didn’t do well in school, I quit school in tenth grade, I didn’t realize that I was smart. It was only as an adult that I realized my disability didn’t reflect my intelligence. Yes, it’s hard to find self-confidence when you have to struggle for something that comes easily for others. Find your gifts, and focus on how those gifts can help you succeed in what you want in life. For many, my choice career of writing may seem a difficult path, and yes, it’s harder for me than others, but because I tapped into my gifts of being able to write emotionally, the storytelling aspect comes easier to me than others.
How have your learning disabilities/difficulties shaped you/what you do?
As I said earlier, I’m not a quitter. I simply refuse to give up. I sold my first book ten years after I started writing. I didn’t sell my second book until thirteen years later. I deal with dyslexia in my writing career by having people proof my books even before they go out to an editor. Yes, my publishers have line editors and copy editors who also go over it, but I want to hand them as clean a copy as I can. Even this interview will be read by a proofer before it goes to Bethany. I used to whine about never being able to write a clean copy. I spend at least 50 hours of every week writing, you would think I would have overcome my issues. But I haven’t. Yes, I’m so much better than I was before, but generally, I still will have as many as five mistakes a page. And that’s with me going over it three or four times. But I’ve learned to accept that I will always have goofs in my work. I’ve learned to compensate.
Briefly tell us about your Young Adult (YA) books, etc
I write the Shadow Falls series. These are stories about a camp/turned school that caters to paranormal teens who learn to harness their powers and also to learn to get along with each other. The books are centered around three girls who are roommates: Kylie, Della and Miranda. The books have suspense, romance, paranormal elements, and a lot of laughter. This October, Midnight Hour, the final and tenth book in that series will be released. Miranda, my heroine in Midnight Hour, is a dyslexic witch. In her journey, Miranda is finally learning to believe in herself in spite of her disability.