The term Achilles heel refers to a person’s weak spot. It comes from the Greek hero Achilles in the epic poem called The Iliad. Thetis, Achilles’ mother is a nymph. When Achilles was born, she dips him in the river Styx to make him immortal. His heel doesn’t get wet since she is holding him by his foot. An arrow shot into his heel causes Achilles’ death. Therefore, we refer to a person’s weak spot as an Achilles heel.
One might assume that a writer is someone who reads all the time. You might also assume a writer is someone who reads well or reads fast. Did you know that there are many productive, successful writers who have dyslexia? Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person’s fluency and/or comprehension accuracy in reading.
She created Miss Marple and wrote about her adventures. She gave Hercule Pierot his monocle and fussy ways. She holds the Guinness Book Record for best selling writer of books. Learning to read was a great mystery for Agatha Christie.
She said, “I, myself, was always recognized . . . as the “slow one” in the family. It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was . . . an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.”
This talented lady has written over 50 children’s books. She describes her school days like this:
“When I was a student in elementary school I wasn’t a very good student. Had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn’t! I thought I was dumb. I didn’t like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn’t do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero’s, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course , now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL!”
Famous for his novel, The Great Gatsby, he is deemed one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, He had a learning disability, mostly likely dyslexia. Fitzgerald was kicked out of school at the age of 12 for not focusing or finishing his work, and he had a very hard time spelling.
She put her writing career on hold for many years, working as an actress and comedian instead. Dyslexia challenged her writing ability and she felt discouraged and embarrassed because she couldn’t, and still can’t, spell. She is best known as the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was made into a movie and earned her an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay adaptation. She returned to writing in the 1980s, much to the celebration of Fried Green Tomatoes fans.
If my daughter, Matti, were here to talk to you, she would probably tell you she completely understands Flagg’s heart. She struggled in school but like these great author’s she didn’t let that hold her back. She studied hard, much harder than most children because that’s what it took to make the grade. I admire her determination. It’s one of many qualities that make her special and strong.
Matti’s all grown now and she enjoys reading fiction. She earned that pleasure. She has a family of her own, a husband and 4 children (number 4’s in the oven in this photo). I couldn’t be more proud of her. Obstacles, tough things come her way and she keeps her head held high, reaching for the stars of hope to be all she can be. She’s one of my heroes. Today is her birthday and I am so glad she was born.
The common thread I see in Matti’s life and the successful author’s above is a spirit to overcome the odds. I admire these writers and my sweet daughter.
What about you? Do you have an Achilles heel? How do you overcome it? Does your hero have an Achilles heel?