Many writers I’ve spoken with during the years knew from an early age that they were destined to be writers. They read everything they could get their hands on and otherwise viewed the world through a writer’s prism. I’m not one of those people. I never thought nor dreamed of being a writer because it wasn’t even in the realm of possibilities for me.
From my earliest memories, the written word was my enemy. I struggled through school kicking and screaming, hating every moment of it. My frustration grew because I couldn’t do what everyone else could do so easily. I read slowly, stumbling through even the easiest assignments. And when it came to writing, it just wasn’t going to happen. I scratched and clawed through my work, my letters tilting one way then another, hardly legible. Spelling was a mystery. I was consistently at the bottom of my class in nearly every academic subject, which exasperated my parents to no end.
Since I couldn’t keep up academically with the other students, I soon began acting out in class, becoming the class clown of sorts. This didn’t help my grades any, but at least made school somewhat tolerable for me.
By the time I was in high school, I was so far behind there was no way I would catch up and graduate. I dropped out of school and enlisted in the Marines.
My feeble grasp of the English language still haunted me in the service. Whenever possible, I would have other people fill out my log books or do anything that needed to be written. By this time in my life, I had become quite adept at manipulating my situations so as to rarely have to face my problem at all.
Then one day I had a conversation with a man that would have a profound effect on my future. He had been one of the top rated high school quarterbacks in the nation, but was unable to go to college because of his abysmal grade point average. He, like me, was functionally illiterate. He told me he struggled with learning disabilities. As he detailed his problems in school—which virtually mirrored mine—he said he suffered from a learning disability called Dyslexia.
I had heard the word before, but never understood what it meant until then. I had already resigned myself that I was just not very bright and never would understand the English language. This new insight intrigued me. Maybe I wasn’t just slow and unable to learn. Maybe there was something indeed “wrong” with how I processed information.
I kept these thoughts in the back of my mind and a flicker of hope began to burn in my spirit.
After my time in the Marines, I switched careers and became a cop, which was a surprising choice because of the amount of writing police officers had to do. I barely made it through training. My reports were disorganized, illegible messes, but because I could run well and catch bad guys, they kept me on.
Shortly after my wife and I were married, she convinced me to go back to school. I had to take a year and a half of preparatory classes before I could even take credited coursework. It was a very painful process. I finally built the courage to get tested for learning disabilities. I discovered that I was indeed dyslexic and well as dysgraphic, which is a disability in the output or writing. After all those years of frustration and anxiety, my problem finally had a name.
After my conversion (read my testimony for a more detail account), I felt God leading me to write. It didn’t make sense with my educational background, but I still felt God guiding me in this direction. I shared this with my wife, who encouraged me to pursue it.
I switched my major to English and began writing my first novel. One day while reading the newspaper, I saw an ad for a Christian writers’ conference. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I attended and got a good review for my novel. I was hooked.
Although my first book wasn’t published, I learned a lot through the process and applied that knowledge to my first published novel—Rolling Thunder. I”ve been writing professionally every since.
Using computers and typing have been a tremendous help in compensating for my learning disabilities. I still have to be careful because I will always struggle in this area, and I rely heavily on spell-check, but, hey, I’m writing. That’s all that counts.
God has been gracious enough to allow me to write and heal the area of my life that tormented me for so long. My prayer is that I can continue to write and grow as God leads me in this new direction of my life. I also hope that those who read my stories might be touched in a real and relevant way, leading to a deeper understanding of themselves and the salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ.
2 thoughts on “Why I Write”
Mark, I just shared this with a mom who has a 21 year old son who cannot read. He thinks that he cannot learn to read because he was diagnosed with dyslexia before he quit school. I have also found a place in the town where they live where he can get free instruction in reading. Thank you for sharing this.
You won’t remember me, but I was in your class in 2010 at FCWC. You were very encouraging. I am still not published– three agents have told me the writing is good or the story is excellent but they don’t know where to market it. . . but I keep writing.:<)
I do remember you and that class. It was a lot of fun. I hope the testimony helps your friend’s son. Please let me know. Take care, and God bless!