Today (Saturday, August 10, 2013) I had the opportunity to listen to one of my favorite authors, Amanda Kyle-Williams, talk about writing and how she got started. I have read many things about Amanda and I have talked with her through social media, but hearing her speak this afternoon gave me a new insight into her life…and my own.
Amanda started out thanking libraries, library staff, and friends of the library for what they give to the community. She explained that the first book she read was in a library at the age of twenty-three. She told us that she had not read before then because she had to work through dyslexia. When she approached the librarian, she asked where she should start. The librarian recommended “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen. Wow! Now that is quite a book with which to have a new reader start. I’m glad it didn’t make her give up! Instead it inspired her to read more and to begin writing.
Amanda told us about sitting alone in a corner of the library and working on reading. She said that people called her slow and stupid and she didn’t want anyone to see her reading slowly. She explained that the best way she can read is to follow along the words with her fingers. She didn’t want anyone to see her struggling and have to face the embarrassment of feeling stupid or slow. What shocked me is that people call others slow who follow the words with their fingers. I’m always surprised by how mean and insensitive people can be to others…although I shouldn’t be since I have faced some of that kind of judgment myself. Over the years, Amanda has continued to go to the library. It has become a safe place for her. We all need that place where we can go that we know will always be safe. I’m glad the library can be that place for Amanda.
Amanda continued to talk about her character development, her setting, and how she came up with the ideas for her books. She gave wonderful advice to new writers. She talked about how she didn’t start working as a full-time writer until 2010 (later in life). When she was talking about how she came up with her first book (published by Random House), she talked about seeing her niece and how a creepy tow truck driver influenced her characters and the story line. She said, “you never know what the universe will hand you.” She told us to let our world around us influence our writing. Tonight I’m following that advice in this blog entry.
As I listened to Amanda’s story tonight, I was inspired to keep pursing my goals. I’ve heard people tell me to never give up and that age doesn’t matter but I think Amanda’s story of perseverance is what changed all that advice for me. As I endeavor to continue to read/review books and to start my chain maille jewelry business, I have to remember that my lupus does not have to hold me back. I still need to work on my self-confidence and my self-motivation, but I can achieve my goals.
I knew Amanda was an incredibly talented writer but I had no idea that she writes through some frustrating challenges. It is an inspiration for me. If a writer can write despite having a learning disability concerning words and reading, I can work through lupus. I can...and I will…continue to reach my goals. I will persevere. I know Amanda was not talking directly to me this afternoon but it hit home like she was talking directly to me. I’m sure she didn’t write that speech with the intention of changing a life but she changed mine. It will be something that stays with me forever…don’t let your disability hold you back and “never, ever give up on your dreams,” as Amanda said at the end of her speech.