Tag: Autism

Taking the Next Step

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, which is pretty bad. A lot of things have happened, some good, some bad, all life. Even so, I wanted to set out my vision for the next steps here and what it will look like:

One day, I hope to make this site a fully interactive, dynamic lexicon of all things Viredia, with schwifty graphics, animated maps and databases filled with the errata that sits behind the books I’ve planned and one day will bring to life.

Until then, though, there are a few things I can do…

I’m working on that map myself and may even be able to show some sneak peeks over time before the full reveal in the final novel! I’ve lots of ideas to draw from and am excited to see if my idea of a multi-layered map is of interest to you all; let me know what you think in the comments!

Putting some of the world bible into hidden pages, ready for future publication. I know, it’s mean to say it and not pony up the goods, but think of it as a carefully planned reveal. Much more fun!

It all rather feels like a walk down a road shrouded in mist with a hand-drawn map as a guide! XD

I’ve also thought about posts talking about writing itself, my methods (such as they are), how it feels as an autistic writer to travel on this path and even the odd post on autism. If any of these interest you, please let me know and I’ll explore them.

Lastly I’m going to (slowly) start to post the odd review here and there about books I’m reading or have read, simply because I need to talk to people about the incredibly rich and vibrant worlds people craft that let me just tumble in and become enraptured.

So, I’ll leave it there, but I truly would LOVE to hear from you! Comment or use social media to spread the love!

G’night, Legends.

Challenges of an Autistic Author

If I could go back in time to speak to myself in my twenties, I would probably shake him half to death and continually scream, “WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?!” in sheer frustration that it’s taken me this long to get to where I am today. But the truth is that I’ve had to go on a monumental paradigm shift over a number of years to reach this point. (Spoiler: I was diagnosed with Aspergers when I was 11. Surprise? Did the title give it away?)

Back then, if you’d walked up to me and said you’d heard I wanted to write and you would pay me a million quid for a finished manuscript, even a first draft one – warts and all – aside from the truly insane reaction I would have utterly failed to deliver. Not through lack of trying, but through sheer inability to focus on anything.

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

Even now, I still struggle to focus a lot of the time. I am lucky, I have a very strong preference for sci-fi and fantasy – that’s it – which obviously is such a wide net that it covers books, comics, video games, TV and film plus dozens of other things besides. But back then I was dipping and diving into all of it. Over and over in a continuous cycle.

I would get surges of confidence and inspiration to write, but suddenly would see a book I liked and start to read it cover to cover, only to then get distracted by something else like a giant humanoid squirrel.

All of this is complicated by the fact that when I read or play I am THERE and can practically touch the things I see in my mind. Writing, while the same, was competing. And losing.

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

The above image may seem dramatic, but with so much input available – both then and now – it’s a bit like drowning in a sea of opportunity. I usually pendulum back and forth from several different types of content – gorging myself on one before flopping into another in an endless cycle. It’s pleasant, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately means I am horrifically unproductive.

Twenty years is a long time. Within that time I’ve grown and began to recognise the signs I was due to switch my focus to a new medium again – usually following a kind of fatigue from glutting myself until I couldn’t stand it any more. Honestly the birth of my daughter broke me out of that a little, but it still is hard and I definitely struggle when I cannot satisfy my need for that immersion.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

I’m rambling slightly, but it’s hard to truly encapsulate just how slaved to my needs I have been, even if I am able to exercise some measure of control now. With all of that cyclical consumption and immersion, my ideas continually rose and fell like a seasonal flower, poking up, briefly flowering and then withering away to go back to a bulb wintering beneath my subconscious after I had feverishly scribbled them down into a notebook or app. I’ve mentioned that I mind map before, I think (hopefully) and I believe when I started to mind map that was the slow tipping point to accumulate enough concentrated, tangible information to get me to where I am today.

Everything changed when my daughter was born, for sure. But the birth of my son kickstarted another evolution of my sense of self again. I was in the kitchen, and imagined a conversation between both my son and daughter.

I wondered to myself, what advice I would give their teenaged selves if they came to me and said they wanted to work in a challenging, competitive industry – like acting, music or…writing. I thought about what I would say:

“Do it right. Research, dig, talk to people in the industry until you know what you’re getting into and what you need to do.”

I realised that I wasn’t doing that. It made me feel a hypocrite, ashamed that I had truly had the tools to do what I wanted to do, but I had not used my neurodiverse gifts. Instead I had hidden away inside them, used them as excuses and distracted myself away from my dream. But how could I look at my children and say that they could work for their dreams and make them come true when I wasn’t doing so myself?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

So I set out to do what I had imagined telling my children to do. Research, talk, commit. I set my lunch times as my writing time so that evenings are still family time with my children and wife. I set small, manageable milestone goals (micro goals, if you will) that I could achieve if I actually knuckled down and wrote.

And it’s working. For the first time, repeated success and discipline is working hand-in-hand with my ecstatic imagination. I feel the thrill of achievement and know that I can do it. I will get there.

The struggle was not in vain.