Christian motivational speaker, Joel Osteen, had an interesting sermon on Jan 24. Don't name your future by the bad or unwanted circumstances of your present. In the week since that sermon, that message has really hit home. You see, I recently started a fantasy writing critique or "crit" group and posted a piece for review. And I got crits, ones that reminded me of why I have a love/hate relationship with crit groups. It never fails, where ever I go, I receive crits about a lack of clarity on basic prose. I receive crits on sentences that are weird. I receive crits on convoluted sentence structures. I receive crits that readers cannot understand what I wrote.
Before last week, I couldn't understand why my writing didn't make sense to others, when it did to me. Before last week, I thought my unusual sentences was my style. Before last week, I knew it was a problem, but not why can't ever fix it. Then, in that week that followed Joel Osteen's Sunday sermon, I listened to another podcast I had downloaded and on it a comment came up about a guest speaker, a writer, having a writing style similar to how she speaks, and something finally clicked: people often write how they speak.
You see, I have uncommon speech disorder. As a two or three year old, I was told that I "spoke too fast". The disorder was not named and it was masked by a more obvious disorder in which I could only say about 30% of my letters. Speech classes fixed that obvious speech disorder; the other went unchecked. Until now.
I discovered what I have through online research. It is called cluttering, a fluency disorder, and the best description of it comes from Wikipedia:
"It feels like 1) about twenty thoughts explode on my mind all at once, and I need to express them all, 2) that when I'm trying to make a point, that I just remembered something that I was supposed to say, so the person can understand, and I need to interrupt myself to say something that I should have said before, and 3) that I need to constantly revise the sentences that I'm working on, to get it out right."
Cluttering affects writing abilities. Cluttering affects reading abilities. Cluttering affects listening abilities. And most people don't realize they have a problem at all; others around them do.
Now, I am aware of the problem and I am aware that it affects many aspects of communication. But that is not the only thing I discovered. You see, currently my writing is defined by this disorder, but in the future, it doesn't have to be. Currently, I am defined by this disorder, but in the future, I don't have to be. My past experiences with speech disorders proves this. My ability to write nonfiction that is readable proves this. That is what I discovered through Joel Osteen's message. Don't decide what your future will be by what is happening now. I have the knowledge of what is wrong, and I have the will to find ways to fix it and change my future. Starting now. How about you?
Every writer has some obstacle that is present now. Perhaps it is the economy, and no one is buying. Perhaps there is some imperfection in your writing that is holding you back. Perhaps you have the will to write, but no time. Perhaps you have the desire, but the words won't come. But that is all happening "now". What are you doing to make sure that is not your future? Need some tips? To check out the companion piece to this blog post, click here.
It is such a relief to discover what is wrong so you may begin fixing it. Since I "came out", the thing I have been most inspired to do is start a community for writers with disabilities. And I did it. Right now it is just me and a blog, just me and my journey to improve my communication abilities and stay motivated. Who knows, this community may continue to consist of just me, and that is ok. If I can help even one reader of that blog feel better about his own disability and how it affects his writing dreams, then I have reached my goal. But I invite others to join and become "authors" on that blog, and if that happens, who knows how many people we can reach. Please check it out by clicking here.