How Dyslexia Helped Richard Ford
It would seem to me that dyslexia would be one of the more difficult disabilities to overcome in becoming a writer.
The International Dyslexia Association defines it as such: It is “a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.”
However, for Richard Ford, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Sportswriter and Independence Day, the disability has been a bump in the road that, he says, has actually improved his writing.
“I went all the way through school not really reading more than the minimum, and still to this day can’t read silently much faster than I can read aloud. But there were a lot of benefits to being dyslexic for me, because when I finally did reconcile myself to how slow I was going to have to do it, then I think I came into an appreciation of all those qualities of language and of sentences that are not just the cognitive aspects.
“The syncopations, the sounds of words, what words look like, where paragraphs break, where lines break, all the poetical aspects of language. I wasn’t so badly dyslexic that I was disabled from reading; I just had to do it really slowly.
“And as I did–lingering on those sentences, as I had to linger–I fell heir to language’s other qualities which I think has helped me write sentences.”
That’s pretty amazing.
And when you read The Sportswriter, which is my only experience with Ford as a writer, you’ll probably be even more amazed at his command of language.
He has a direct style, but it’s also poetic and even philosophical. I’m even more of a fan of Richard Ford after knowing that he’s overcome dyslexia to become the author he is today.
Image: Wikimedia Commons