The Pen May Be Mightier Than the Sword But It’s Not Mightier Than My Dyslexia

Pen writing?! While we’re at it, why don’t we relinquish our radiators and make a nice fire pit in the living room floor? Or throw the washing machine out the window and take the laundry to the river, like great-great-great-grandma used to?

Okay, hyperbole aside, I do occasionally still write with a pen. I learned cursive in school and I use it. I make it a point to take my lecture notes by hand, not because I have good handwriting (as my mom used to say, judging my my handwriting I should be a doctor; sometimes I can’t read it myself) but more because I can’t afford a small laptop or tablet to take to uni with me like all the cool kids. And to keep in practice with handwriting, because honestly? I don’t really write anything un-electronically anymore except like shopping lists, or my weekly chores plan on the whiteboard in the hall. And stuff like Christmas cards but then I have to write in a way that other people can actually read and I have to pre-write with pencil so it’s pretty and well aligned and then go over it with ink and by the time I’m done I can feel every bone and muscle and sinew in my hand. But other than that? Nah. The day I worked out how to type on my phone was the last time I ever used a paper planner. My phone reminds me of everything. Paper just doesn’t beep.

Taking lecture notes really reminds you what a blessing a computer is. Not only are you so much faster typing with a keyboard, if you also have a slight brain impediment like me spell check will change your life. I mean, I usually know all the letters in a given word, but sometimes I’ll be damned if I remember in what order they come. The end result is a jumbled mess of letters on my screen which a simple click can transform into the word I was trying to type. It’s like magic!

I call it ‘brain impediment’ because it’s like 98.7 % sure I have some form of dyslexia, my dyslexia specialist teacher friend is absolutely convinced, but my doctor says I’m a bit too old for a proper diagnosis. At my age I might as well just have some brain cancer that affects my language centre. My parents shamefully neglected to take me to a medical professional when it was clear that younger me couldn’t tell left from right. (Or calculate anything more complicated than 2+2, but my country doesn’t believe that dyscalculia is a thing.)

Anyway, this kind of weirdness makes pen-writing pretty difficult because as you might have noticed at some point in your life paper doesn’t have spell check. And while I’m concentrating on whether u or o comes first in ‘ambiguous’ (and inevitably get it wrong like right now) I miss the next minute of talk and thus miss some important details. And then there’s that scritchy scratching noise an almost empty pen makes. Gyaaahaaah!

Ironically, all through school my orthography and grammar were always top of the class. Coping strategy? Was I more careful because of my disadvantage? Or is everyone else just a lot worse off than me?

Also, I’m very much prone to the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, a wonderfully interesting malfunction in language comprehension where you know a word but can’t for the life of you produce it. You usually know the first sound and/or the last, but the rest? Mystery. However, if someone says what you mean or you see it written you will instantly recognise it. Searching for your missing word works a lot faster with an electronic dictionary than a regular one, just saying.

I mean, I guess it’s a trend nowadays to go back to the roots, as it were, and do everything yourself as a counter-movement to the ever-increasing industrialisation and machine-made products (apparently there are people making their own detergent now), sometimes out of a sense of fear that the end is nigh and we’re forgetting useful skills, but I mean… If we have to keep some ‘old skills’ can’t it be something useful, like alliteration rhyme? Learning he entire history of your people by heart? Or, hell, sawing wood? Hand sewing? How to make leather? Design a useful spear or bow? Making fire, fire’s important. Basics of agriculture? Something? Because if this civilisation collapses your nice cursive handwritten poems won’t put food in your stomach or save you from the hungry, hungry wolves.

I’ve just misspelled ‘civilisation’ and ‘wolves’. And ‘misspelled’. Don’t diss the computers, dammit, I need them.


3 thoughts on “The Pen May Be Mightier Than the Sword But It’s Not Mightier Than My Dyslexia

  1. THIS WAS A GREAT POST! I’m liking the younger crowd to tell me how it is with technology. I grew up with pen and paper so ya. Hey and I’m not that old . Shania Twain, Keanu Reeves and Nicolas Cage’s age thank you very much :p

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! 🙂 I grew up with pen and paper too, but man, computers changed everything. Like, in school we absolutely had to handwrite our homework, but then when I first started college and suddenly had to write assignments on a computer it was a bit like culture shock. Totally worth it, though.


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