So you know you’ve been dyslexic for years, and I mean years. Diagnosed in 1998 and then sent out into the world with a degree… Oh, but there’s a story.
My first degree was done at the University of Derby a very, very long time ago. The course no longer exists but it was called Biological Imaging and earned you a BSc. Anyhow I thought (as did most other people with the exception of my parents) that I was a little slow. But luckily I could draw so the course I choose was 50/50 between the arts and science. I loved the science but wasn’t too keen on the art. Don’t get me wrong I can draw and well (www.katemurray.org.uk) but it left me a little cold. My passion was the writing, the research and the learning, so much knowledge… but there was a problem – me. I was slow; slow to read, slow to understand, slow to put the essays together… slow. And then there was the spelling – ouch! All I can do in retrospect is apologise to the poor lecturers, my essays must have been a minefield of spelling mistakes, bad grammar and muddled tenses. Still I struggled on, until halfway through the final year my lecturer said, “Kate are you dyslexic?”
My answer was a grunt. I really had no idea what it was, let alone if I had it. I was referred to the student support and then onto the dyslexia center in Derby. Low and behold six months later I held in my hand a form stating clearly that I had a learning disability. I marched into the student services and… nothing. Too late! TOO LATE!!! I couldn’t believe it… Where was the wonderful help they’d told me about. The support staff, the extra time on exams… Nothing.
Now to be fair I only had my dissertation to write-up and two more exams to complete, but the extra half hour I was meant to get would have done the world of good. Still not one to hold a grudge (honest) I shrugged and continued on. I did get a degree, a 2:2 but I always wondered… what if I had been given help?
So I started working life and this is where I could go on about the trials and tribulations of jobs and getting kicked out of them for not doing the simplest of things like counting boxes, although counting in general is an issue… The time I got lost because I can’t read maps, or the time I got the sack because I couldn’t teach my hands to move fast enough in a packing plant… The result was that 4-ish years later I was contemplating going back to university… this time as a dyslexic student.
And I decided to study what I wanted, no art, just research, learning and writing! So an Archeology degree it was. And it was fantastic! This is where I have to send a great deal of thanks to the University of Wales, Lampeter (or rather the University of Trinity Saint David as it is known now), and the student support people. They are good. Every lecturer understood and no essay was ever late because the support staff made sure I was able to manage my time well. So I came out of this one with a first… I know I was shocked! Me the slow one with a first…
Now we start to get to the present…
I finished my degree and opened a business (again a whole mass of stories about have to cope and unfortunately how not to), and it is quite successful (www.katessofttoys.co.uk). Then on Christmas 2010 my Aunty Jan and cousin Helen gave me a book. You see I’d always told stories and they decided to give me a chance to write them down… Actually this is what they wrote in the inside cover:
I saw this and knew it would be great for all those “important jottings”.
Little did she know where it would lead!
So I began ‘jotting’. I started a free creative writing course in Penparcau, Aberystwyth and began writing… A wonderful lecturer Dr Katherine Stansfield suggested I carry on with the writing. So I did and at the beginning of this year I had written 6 short stories, 3 of which are published… Two in actual books and one in an e-book. But where was it heading? I’m scared of writing long pieces and the prospect of a novel was so terrifying. With my problems anything with any length can become a real muddle. So I started to um and ah about studying… but I also have to run a business so it would have to be part-time, or so I thought. Then I stumbled across the creative writing masters at Trinity and everything seemed to fall into place. I knew what the support staff where like and as long as they were still there after eight years, I knew them. So my surroundings would be the same, I’d only have to worry about the writing.
So here I am running a soft toy manufacturing company, a pet portrait company and doing a full-time masters. Have I taken on too much? Not sure only time will tell, but one thing is for certain I intend to fully enjoy every minute and to tell you about it.