One of the more “exciting” things about getting an autism identifier later in life is that you spent an enormous amount of time for the first several years trying to assess which of your behaviors are “you” and which are autistic tendencies. It doesn’t help that there are often legitimate overlaps between those two things.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had problems with a very mild form of dyspraxia. That’s where you have problems with language, especially the speaking parts. When I get stressed out, for instance, I tend to get a nasty stutter. I have a really, really hard time finding the right word, even if I use it all the time. There are a few words that have gotten “coded” into my brain wrong (caterpillar always comes out as “callipitar” and I have a really really hard time saying “cinnamon”), but overall, with a moment to collect myself, I can get the right words out in vaguely the right order.
However, I’ve also noticed of late that stress and writing are not fast friends, either. I can be struck with a massive inspiration of OMG RITE AL TEH WOORDS!!, but those “woords” will utterly suck – and I won’t realize it until I’m way past it. I’ve started going back and reading things that I thought were more pure stream-of-consciousness, and I can’t even figure out what the hell I was going on about. (In a small fairness, I rarely if ever try to write stories while stressed out, so most of it’s pretty personal stuff.)
And then, enter in Goddamned November of Goddamned 2016.
Y’all know that’s writer-speak for National Novel Writing Month, and here’s this AMAZING sequel I need to get knocked out because look at all the fantastic support that “Middle of Nowhere” is getting. So, I started writing “Shooting Blanks” as a November challenge, and also agreed to host a group at the Roanoke Library to get a community vibe going and garner and give support…
And then… Goddamned 2016, on a personal level.
My dear friend Jack lost his battle with kidney failure. He wasn’t even close to 30 years old.
My husband spun out on a miscommunication and misunderstanding that went way the hell and gone too far on both sides.
The OAG decided that I didn’t actually need my money to take care of the kids that I have full-time custody of.
My “new” car developed multiple small but intensely irritating issues.
Oh, yeah, and how about hosting Thanksgiving for the whole family, which is not actually a big deal, unless you’re dealing with a surly husband who is actively NOT helping with anything AND also nursing a gaping hole of grief…
I utterly and completely failed at my attempt to NaNoWriMo this year.
I mean, I got some words out, but then I discovered that stress-induced dyspraxia can bleed over into writing for me; it’s not just verbal. I spent probably ten minutes staring at a screen, trying to remember the word that kind of meant “is going to be getting here later today”. (I ended up rewriting the entire paragraph to avoid that concept altogether because “imminent” was just not happening.)
And then, when I got past that hurdle, I banged out all the words like I normally do – head tilted back, movie playing in my head, words falling out through my fingertips…
… and it was a jumbled up plot-tangle of wtf.
Okay, yeah, it’s important that these characters talk about this other event because the new characters don’t know about it, and this information strongly affects the decisions that come immediately afterwards, but so much happened to the first characters that the new characters need to know, how to you prioritize that information in a natural conversation without looking like a data dump?
… fuck it. Let’s try that again.
So, to my lovely readers who are the lifeblood of my anti-depression, anti-horrific-writers-self-esteem, anti-why-the-hell-did-I-think-I-could-do-this-I’m-a-terrible-writer-and-a-total-hack-and-I-will-die-doing-nothing-of-value-probably-working-retail type feelings…
Thank you. You keep me going. I fear letting you down, but I know that you wouldn’t have faith in me if you didn’t see something awesome, so we’re going to focus on that right now and get through this.
And maybe, if the holidays don’t completely kick 100% of my ass, I’ll have a sequel for you by the … let’s say, end of January.