A Comment Award for the boy who couldn’t write

Yesterday, I received an award for this blog at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards. I was very pleased to be chosen and I really didn’t expect to win it. No really, I didn’t!

It was a particularly sweet moment for me because writing was something I struggled with for much of my early life. For some reason, although I had no problem with reading, I found the physical process of producing words on a page very hard. My mum still talks about going to school on parents’ evening and finding exercise books with nothing in them. I would get 5 out of 10 in maths, not because I got 5 sums wrong but because it took me so long to copy the sums off the blackboard that I had only managed to do five before the lesson ended. Eventually, thanks to the perseverance of my parents and some good teachers, I learnt to write properly but I never found it easy.

Even at university, I used to sit with a dictionary by my desk to look up what most people would regard as quite simple words. I developed a succinct writing style in exams because, knowing that I didn’t write very quickly, I had to be able to make my points clearly in three-quarters of an hour. Where I could, though, I always avoided writing. I never got involved in student journalism. I had plenty to say but the effort of spitting it out was too much.

All this changed when I started to use computers. Once I didn’t have to make words on a page and I had a gizmo to correct my spelling, I found writing much easier. I was fortunate to enter the workplace just as word processors were replacing the longhand draft and the typing pool. It would still never have occurred to me to write anything I didn’t have to though. Having spent so long avoiding writing, it had become a habit. I did a master’s degree, got good marks and presented an academic paper to a conference but even that didn’t tempt me to start writing.

Eventually, technology intervened again and I discovered blogging. Here was a platform where I could just write stuff and see if anybody was interested in reading it. After a few tentative steps I got going and six years after starting this blog I ended up being given an award for it.

If you had told my 8-year-old self, or even my 18 or 28-year-old self for that matter, that I would one day be given an award for writing stuff they would have said you were mad. Sure, I had things to say but it simply would not have occurred to me to put any of them down on paper. Writing was something that other people did.

So I’m thankful for the invention of word processing, spell checkers and blogging. I’m glad that Editorial Intelligence decided to create an award for independent bloggers and I’m delighted to have won it.

I phoned my mum yesterday to tell her. She was pleased, as I knew she would be. Remembering the time when I had to be cajoled into putting pen to paper she said, “If your teachers could see you now….”

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16 Responses to A Comment Award for the boy who couldn’t write

  1. TickyW says:

    Well done for winning the award.

    Your blogs are usually interesting, which is why I think you deserve the award.

    It’s interesting what you say about technology. In an earlier epoch, you would have been condemned to silence. Now your voice is heard and, what’s more, wins a prize. A sort of technological determinism.

    I recall being occasionally slippered and frequently admonished at school for getting my sums wrong.. I understood the principles of adding, subtracting, multiplication and division etc but just could not physically do it when required to do it with pen and paper Even now, I can make senseless mistakes when adding up manually. Nowadays, I just stick everything on a spreadsheet and don’t need to worry about getting the arithmetic correct.. So where you faced a barrier with words, I faced a barrier with numbers. Happily, the “new technology” has set us both free.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for your kind words Ticky. I’m a bit the same with numbers too, I’m afraid. When I worked for a big accounting/consulting firm we were supposed to be able to reel of lots of performance numbers from memory. I used to complain. “I’ve got it on a spreadsheet. What’s the matter with you?”

      Technology has saved the day for both of us, and a good few others I reckon.

  2. Pingback: A Comment Award for the boy who couldn’t write - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  3. Juli says:

    Congratulations, Rick! Well-deserved – you and your blog! And hail to the liberating effects of technological progress! 🙂

  4. Shane O'Mara says:

    Super and well-deserved. FCFT is one of the best blogs around. I always learn something from it.

  5. Anjana Ahuja says:

    Your post is very moving. I was there yesterday, and picked up the award for science commentary but, unlike you, words do come easily to me (and strong opinions with them!). I wish I had said hello to you. I’m now trying to blog, which I find difficult – not the words, just the paraphernalia of updating, posting and adding links – but, like you, I persist in the hope of becoming better. Good luck for the future.

  6. patrickhadfield says:

    Exceleent! Congratulations – and a great post to celebrate!

  7. Bernard Martin says:

    Congratulations – well deserved. Not only for the writing which tends to be succinct, incisive and warm, but also for the research into often obscured (deliberately so?) data and its clear presentation. Thanks, for all that.
    The story raises wider issues: about society’s readiness to write off people who don’t do things ‘right;’ about the tendency of the ‘right’ way of doing things to drive out alternative ways of doing things; about the use of the educational system as a means of competitive exclusion (this on the day B Johnson reported in the Guardian as wishing to see more selection in education); … and no doubt others, but I’ve run out of time.
    Thanks and congratulations, again!

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for your kind words Bernard. The education system and me never really got on, although things got better as I got older. My mum was a teacher and she always said that schools were not great places to educate most children but no-one had come up with a workable alternative.

  8. fiona riley says:

    Rick, I follow your blogs regularly and really enjoy the factual, key relevant social messages and the point of view that you take. However, I was very inspired by your blog on your award – congratulations. I have a dyslexic son which means we have had to challenge many ‘traditional’ teaching methods and assumptions about education. Your writing and your personal and honet story, gives my son hope as he starts his first term of University. Thanks for sharing.

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