I was a weird kid. Or rather, I heard often from many, many people: “You are weird.”
Unfortunately, I heard other things too. But I’ll get to that later.
Back to me being ‘weird.’
I have dyslexia. Like, super hardcore dyslexia. Like I couldn’t read or write when I was 8. Back in the 80’s, when I was a kid, they diagnosed me as “retarded.” This was before a wealth of research had been done on dyslexia, autism, sensory processing disorders, OCD, ADHD, etc. So all kids fell into one basket: Slow. Weird. Retarded.
Words have meaning, we all know this. We know how words can cut and make you bleed. How they leave scars that are unseen. The right words and the wrong words color a person’s perspective for his/her entire life. I know this because I used to come home from school every day with cuts caused by words. How I think, how I respond to life is filtered through my scars.
My most current book, ‘The Cad and the Co-ed’, uses a word that was once applied to me many, many times. It is a word that used to send me home to cry in my bed, believing that I was stupid and worthless.
This word should never be used unless to show that a person is a villain, to demonstrate the depth of that person’s callousness. The problem is, our *hero* used that word. It was a throwaway line, where the hero was referring to himself, which almost makes it worse.
It was written by someone who lives in Ireland (and, believe me, this has been a learning experience for her) I didn’t catch it when I read it 100 times (I’m in the USA). Nor did our editors or proofreaders (located in Australia and Canada). But it’s not their fault, it’s not their job, it’s our job as the authors.
Specifically, it’s my fault. Because words have cultural connotations. This word isn’t applied in the same way in Ireland as it is in the USA. It was my job to catch it and I failed.
When the word was brought to my attention via a private message by a reader less than an hour ago, I was HORRIFIED. I immediately did a word search and found it and all those horrid memories came back.
I was 8 again, crying because I’d been called a “fucktard” by Rhena. She’d whispered it in my ear when she passed. Or Will had said it when he wouldn’t let me sit at his table. Or Kara when she’d passed me a note with a single word which I struggled to decipher.
In the USA, in my cultural experience, this word is not okay. It’s never okay. It’s not a knife, it’s a sword. I know this. I have the scars to prove it. And I will be eternally dismayed and disheartened that it make it into a book that *I* published, as I believe LH is as well.
We write books meant to lift people up, because we *love* love. And this word is only ever used to tear people down.
We’ve already replaced the manuscript file with a corrected one, removing the word. We’re appealing to Amazon Kindle Publishing, asking them to push a replacement of the file ASAP on all devices. I don’t know if we’ll succeed, but I pray that we do.
I apologize. I am so deeply sorry. I hope you can forgive me, but I understand if you cannot. I know what that word feels like to wear. So, I understand if this is something that you cannot look past.