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Writing first claimed me out of counter-struggle, out of a need to cope with self-generated inner turmoil.

Many people have internal struggles that manifest in all sorts of ways. Cutting and other means of self-harm, eating disorders, and gender dysphoria are just a few examples of what a person might face. Others around the person may see some sign of the struggle or they may not, depending on how well the afflicted can hide or cope with their issue.

I buried gender dysphoria for over four decades, from six onward, and the length of time I hid it away is no measure of severity. The issue taxed my mental and emotional resources from childhood into adulthood, to the impairment of other functioning. Comparable to RAM memory in a computer running at its limits, I spent significant time coping, surviving, and looking for feedback.  I needed some reassurance that mine was a life with value and not a failed being, best discarded. I looked for ways to shed the issue and bury it somewhere where it could not get at me again, could not gnaw away at my soul.

I lost that fight; self-deception never gains anyone good ground. In the process, After a decade of reverberating turmoil, I gained writing as outlet and perhaps vice, a pressure release valve that draws venting steam from my past struggles and gives it purposeful release, my personal flywheel taking otherwise discarded energy and turning it into something pent up, lasting, and productive.

Gears turning gears, writing not only is inspiration to create and tell stories, it hones the editor in me. I find myself playing the role of wordsmith, developing vocabulary, venturing into the British version of our language and sopping up words given different and (to me) eloquent spelling, rooting out the lame, inane, and cumbersome, enhancing the intriguing, deleting the repetitive, and adding dimension to characters that exist only in what I type and carry in my mind.

With these learned refinements and skills, there is no off switch. Once in us, the editor-in-mind is ever-present, ready to go into action the moment we read a sentence – any sentence, no matter the author. If I nest in with a novel, a concurrent track – a mental sidebar – runs along with my absorption in the story, that sidebar track editing, deciding on whether a given phrase or paragraph is of note or mundane, sloppy with repeated words or shorn of fact-checking that leaves a pool sized body of water described as ‘a lake.’

Is this a reading curse or is it proud newfound skill? So far, it has not diminished a story in my eyes. I plough onward with reads, not allowing the bias of my preference to affect my enjoyment of the work. While it may one day, I suspect there is a greater chance that will result from my social outlook (say on racism or homophobia) than from technical writing issues.

My learning curve is an upward-sloped 60° angle; steep, but I am ascending. Will I tire of an always-on mental editor? There is only one way I will learn the answer, and that is through living life.

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