Words nearly defeated me. They made me an outcast but, in the end, that was what saved me.
My earliest memories are of the taste of words. The cool flavour of “mellifluous”. The mysterious tang of “ruminous”.
Words were a sound and a taste. I could say them, but not see them. I could hear them, but not decipher the marks on a page. As a dyslexic, I could not unravel meaning from ink on white paper.
I was a laughing stock, mocked for my idiocy, and the tears that came too readily as a result. At first the library was merely serenity. It was the smell of old covers and the comforting distance of the playground.
I learned to read eventually. It was slow. I am still slow. But I learned that it was worth it; that words can be miraculous. A picture can be seen. But words can conjure: the foetid smell of the Great Woods; the wind’s caress on spreading wings.
Words lift you from your backyard and show you life before you can discover it for yourself.
A nightingale taught me sacrifice, pressing her breast against a thorn for the sake of love. A rabbit’s wings, sprouting in the care of a woodcutter’s daughter, taught me what love can do.
I live by words. I have never conquered them - no-one could. But I respect, and love them. Working with words is not what I’d call fun, exactly. It can make you fearful. It can cause you to struggle. But it can also provide euphoria beyond our understanding. And that is worth anything.
All About Writing Courses
Jo-Anne Richards is an internationally published author, who has written four novels and several short stories. She and award-winning script-writer, Richard Beynon have recently launched an online version of their flagship Creative Writing Course, for anyone with a passion for writing – fiction or non-fiction.
They will give you the writing skills to turn your passion into print, and the personal feedback to make it publishable. They promise to be honest, but always kind. See http://www.allaboutwritingcourses.com/
- Post by Jo-Anne Richards
Jo-Anne Richards is a South African novelist and journalist, who lectures at Wits University in Johannesburg. Her fourth book, My Brother’s Book, was published in March by Picador Africa. See synopsis and extract from first chapter.
Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken, topped the South African bestseller list in the week it appeared and remained there for 15 weeks.