Image of AA Gill

As someone who stays away from the broadsheets, (I find them difficult, long winded and energy sapping) the writing of AA Gill was something I was never really aware of. But three weeks ago, I received a message in my inbox with the subject line, ‘Sean you should really take a look at this!’. In the body of the email was a link to a video called, ‘Five Minutes With: AA Gill’.

Most of my colleagues, friends and The Codpast fans know I’m on a perpetual mission to find the next great podcast guest. My inbox is constantly peppered with emails with subject lines like, ‘Did you know x is dyslexic!’ or, ‘Potential Podcast guest?’ or, ‘Just met this great guy/girl, who does this great thing, who you NEED to get on your show!’ The quality of the recommendations I get vary in quality, but after watching this five minute video I salivated at the prospect of what an episode of The Codpast featuring AA Gill could present.

In this video AA didn’t seem like the easiest of interviewees, you really had to work for your supper. But these are the interviews I love doing. They do present a challenge but once you get on to a subject that evokes passion, it’s a case of light the touch paper and sit back and enjoy the ride.

After watching the video I did some more research into my potential guest, and sadly realised he been diagnosed with cancer. Knowing that cancer is more survivable than ever, I was still hopeful that one day I would get to record an episode of The Codpast featuring AA Gill. But as the news of AA’s death spread across the media, it was obvious that this was never meant to be.

On hearing the news, I looked back at some of the research I had done on AA Gill. Looking back at the ‘Five Minutes With: AA Gill’ video, I realised in those short five minutes, there were some real nuggets of truth that should resonate with every dyslexic.

Sucess and-Failure Postit Notes

1. Failure is the best path to success.

“Like most journalists, I failed into journalism”

Failure is unfortunately an inevitable part of life and as dyslexics we often fail more than most. But Failure does not need to be seen as a negative. I see failure more as a rudder that steers you towards a career or vocation that’s the right fit for the way your brain works. If you fail enough.

Switzerland Street View

2. We should all find our own personal Switzerland

“[dyslexics] we are not that artistic, we’ve just gone to Switzerland”

For Gills, the art room was a bit like Switzerland. It was a neutral space where there was no need to fight with letters and numbers, there was just colour. No matter how bad dyslexia can make you feel, it’s important to find a place or an activity that brings you joy and at which you excel. Growing up, my Switzerland was the music room. More recently I’ve found a little bit of Switzerland in the space just in front of the microphone in which I sit when I’m recording my podcast. The confidence that your own personal Switzerland can give you, can be a WMD against the self-esteem issues that dyslexia can bring up.

Girl in Window Writing

3. Being dyslexic can make you a great writer

“It’s how you write and what you find to say about it…that’s the pleasure in writing”

It can be disheartening seeing your coursework covered in red ink or being targeted by grammar trolls on social. But AA Gill and many other dyslexic writers have proved, that no matter how good your grammar or spelling is, what you have to say will always be more important than knowing where to place a semicolon.

Super Office Worker

4. Once you find your gift you’ll be a force to recon with.

“I know exactly where I am with writing, I’m a good hak”

As I said earlier, the path to success can be bumpy, but once you’ve found that sweet spot in your career, your likely to be at the top of your game. It may not be fun, but that bumpy journey builds stamina, tenacity, ingenuity, and compassion. These are all attributes, that when you finally find yourself in a roll that suits the way you think, they will allow you to excel in anything you do.


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The Codpast is a multimedia production from www.extraordinaire.tv