autism

Be Aware! Autism!

April is Autism Awareness Month.

 

Remember to be unaware of autism between 1 May and 31 March!

 

Some activists are trying to change the narrative to “autism acceptance month.” I can’t say I disagree, because yes, I am “aware” of autism. I am also aware of rabid dogs, my allergy to orange peel, and of the slugs in our garden. I’d argue, however, that “autism,” as in the word itself, is already widely accepted. Autistic people, not so much.

Among many other fun things, about which I’ll write some other time, autism is a communication disorder.

#ActuallyAutistic people are only acceptable to most neurotypicals (NTs) when our lives are either a motivational “success” story or a tragedy.

 

Autism is accepted when it’s either undetectable or crippling

We don’t understand and we don’t know what we’ve done or what you mean. When we ask questions, we do so to learn how to make you more comfortable. We adapt our behaviour and reshape ourselves based on this feedback. This costs us a lot of energy and destroys our sense of self. If you don’t tell us what you want us to be, we won’t know. We won’t earn the “you don’t look autistic” prize. (I told Husby that the next time we hear this he should say “Bjørn, please perform An Autism for the lady.”)

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How to earn a burnout

So I went and gave myself a burnout, because I don’t learn.

I’ve sent the next Why Odin Drinks story to my editor and decided to tackle the genre that I’ve always found the most difficult: romance. I’ve done a lot of reading first, both of craft books and various sorts of other authors’ romances, noting what I did or didn’t like. I settled on sweet (nothing sexual happens on the page) m/m (it didn’t work, gay men have too many cocks to spend the night cuddling without at least one’s interest getting aroused, so it’s sweet-with-heat now). I started writing the first draft and here’s where I made the same mistake I always make: I stopped watching what I was doing.

I can, as in I am able to, work approximately three hours a day. Unfortunately, tasks that for most people are either unnoticeable or, at worst, irritating chores constitute work for me. Folding the laundry; cleaning the bathroom; cooking something more complicated than an egg; taking a shower; often simply reading. Therapy, obviously. Unfortunately writing is also on that list.

It’s escapism, I love doing it, and it exhausts my energy without me noticing, because I don’t want to notice. If you love your work, it isn’t work anymore, we all know that. So I’ve spent two weeks drafting my romance, navigating the complications and changing the plot as I went, and accidentally completing NaNoWriMo (fifty thousand words – an average romance novel clocks at 60-80 thousand) within two weeks. I wrote every day, of course – “you’re only a real writer if you write every day!” Then, to nobody’s surprise but mine, I crashed. Badly.

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We are default people too

“When we say that someone is ‘writing from the margins’, what does that mean? […] They’re writing about race, or gender, or country of origin, or disabilities, or… the list goes on. But. Why are they still in the margins? Why is it still considered that?” (Morgan Hazelwood, Writing SFF From the Margins)

Krystle Matar and I decided to talk about this topic, and how we refuse to keep both ourselves and our characters on the margins of SFF literature.

Shifting the default: what does it mean to you and why do you want to do it?

Krystle When talking about how much of your characters to include in your books, I’ve seen the advice, “if it serves a purpose to the plot, absolutely talk about their sexuality/identity.” This advice always rubbed me the wrong way. When have we ever asked if a character being heterosexual and male “serves a purpose” in the plot? Why should our characters being full and complicated humans have to be anything more than aspects of who they are? Why should they have to justify their existence by a checklist?

Maybe it’s because I’m a character writer first and a plot writer second—every part of them serves a purpose, but no particular part of them is more important than the other. In my head, they live and breathe. Those of us that don’t fit the default shouldn’t have to “serve a purpose” to be allowed to express ourselves to the fullest breadth of our existence. We should be allowed to just be—and I wanted to give my characters the same multifaceted depth that I’ve seen in the real world.

We are default people too Read More »

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