In 1980, my ninth grade English teacher believed I couldn’t write. I would be destined to have an endless string of jobs ringing cash registers and popping out babies. Well, to be frank, she didn’t say that exactly. She did recommend remedial high school classes. Which I took and aced, as in A+.
What Mrs. Cannazzaro didn’t know was that I would later receive both a BA and MA in English Literature and go on to teach college writing.
In ninth grade I couldn’t spell worth a darn. Mrs. Cannazzaro based her assessment on spelling exams, which I consistently failed. No matter that I submitted a toothpick replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre or that I devoured the few classics we read in class that year. I couldn’t spell.
In college, I still couldn’t spell. In fact, I wrote a paper that had nine misspellings of the same word. Minus 45 points. Ouch.
Then along came spell check. That miraculous invention that puts little red squiggly lines under words it doesn’t recognize. I still had to look up the words, but at least I could figure out which ones were spelled incorrectly.
It became a game: guess the correct spelling before I found it in the dictionary. I won more times than not. I became a spell check champion!
In 1997, I received a dyslexia diagnosis. That explained many things…why I always turned left instead of right, why I constantly misdialed phone numbers, and why I couldn’t spell.
My personal struggle is like many millions of others who share in learning differences. Today I fashion myself a writer, not because of or in spite of Mrs. Cannazzaro. Rather, I write because I enjoy it. Writing allows me to express myself and to keep in touch with family and friends.
I write because I have stories to tell. Some are fiction, some are true, but to me, seeing my words on paper or a computer screen pleases me. I am my most important audience; I write for me…okay, maybe it also has a little to do with the fact that a long time ago someone suggested I should have an endless string of jobs as a cashier.