word craft


“A Rocky Road to Literary Success”

Avi Wortis, photo credit Kate Milford
Avi [pho­to: Kate Milford]

In the Novem­ber issue of On Wis­con­sin, the alum­ni mag­a­zine for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin, there’s an arti­cle about my career. “A Rocky Road to Lit­er­ary Suc­cess” begins …

Edward Wor­tis ’59, MA’62 entered UW–Madison after a lifetime’s strug­gle with dys­graphia, a neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­der that impairs the abil­i­ty to write. It’s not that Wor­tis had trou­ble com­ing up with ideas; it’s that he had trou­ble get­ting words down on paper. Ever since ele­men­tary school, teach­ers had thrown up their hands at his spelling errors, ungram­mat­i­cal sen­tences, and illeg­i­ble handwriting.

But Wor­tis yearned to write. He majored in his­to­ry and the­ater with the goal of becom­ing a play­wright. That led him to a UW play­writ­ing con­test and an embar­rass­ment he remem­bers to this day.

Here’s the rest of the sto­ry.

My thanks to Dean P. Rob­bins, co-edi­tor of On Wis­con­sin and author of a num­ber of pic­ture book biogra­phies, whose book ¡Mam­bo Mucho Mam­bo!: The Dance That Crossed Col­or Lines was pub­lished by Can­dlewick Press last week. Like most every­one else, I don’t often like pic­tures of myself but Kate Mil­ford’s pho­to shows her skill.

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