Fortuitous Subconscious

Posted by on Nov 16, 2015 in Writing | 3 comments

head silhouette and tree digital illustration

I’ve heard other writers talk about subconscious (my word, not necessarily theirs) choices, but never had the experience myself until yesterday. I knew that one of my characters (I’ll call her 1) would be searching for a new career, starting with some sort of entry level job, but I had no idea what it would be. In a scene I wrote two weeks ago, I had 1 show up at another character’s (I’ll call her 2) place of work, looking to reconnect. She’s rebuffed and has to find a way to earn back 2’s trust over the course of the book. And 2 will be in serious trouble at work about half-way through the book.

I didn’t want 1 to just walk straight into 2’s place of work, so I put a receptionist desk out front. I also didn’t want 2 to have any advance warning that 1 was coming, so I made the receptionist job open and unfilled for a bit, so they’re anxious to have it filled ASAP.

Yesterday, I came to the scene where 1 has to figure out what kind of career she wants and where she will get a job. I started with classified ads in a town similar in size and make-up to the imaginary town in the book. Lots of jobs that don’t fit what she needs, which was perfect. Then I went on Monster. More jobs that don’t fit, plus some that struck me as funny for her circumstances, even better. Then I had her get frustrated and go talk to another character about something else. In the course of their conversation, she mentions the job search and he starts suggesting things. One of the things he suggests is the big organization where 2 works. He starts listing off types of jobs she could get there.

I’m sure you can all see where this is going, but I honestly did not, even at this point. Which is why I suddenly got excited when my character mentioned that she could work in the Human Resources department because I thought how great it would be that she could snoop through HR records to help 2 when the trouble comes. Because the trouble is with a co-worker.

It was then that my subconscious whispered, “Psst. Hey, you. Over here.” I looked where it was pointing and there was a big, shiny, perfect job all set up with a gleaming, satiny ribbon. Thank you, Subconscious.

And now that I’ve actually met my subconscious, I need a name for it. Because I don’t want to keep referring to it as my subconscious and thanking it as such. It just sounds weird. One writer I admire calls hers the Girls in the Basement. I think that’s brilliant, but I want my own name for mine.

I’ll be thinking about it, but I’d love to hear suggestions for mine or the name you call your own subconscious in the mean time.

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50k or Bust!

Posted by on Nov 2, 2015 in Writing | 0 comments


Hoping for this...

Hoping for this…

I wasn’t planning to do National Novel Writing Month this year. I just didn’t want the pressure, especially since it hasn’t really worked for me in the past. And there’s the fact that I haven’t written a word of fiction for almost a year. That one’s just sitting there, staring me in the face.

But I have been thinking about an idea. I’ve even jotted some notes down. It’s been ruminating for a few months, coming into a remotely recognizable form, so I decided to just try to get it down on paper.

There’s romance in it, but that’s not the main focus. It’s really about repairing trust in a friendship and making it even better than it was before. At least, that’s what it’s about right now. It could be about space monkeys taking over Las Vegas by the end of November.

...but feeling like this.

…but feeling like this.

I made the decision last night, on the eve of NaNo. Today I’ve written 1730 words, which is a little more than the average I need to finish on November 30. So far, so good, I guess.

I have some trust issues with my ability to commit to writing goals. Kind of like the betrayed woman in my novel. Coincidence? I guess we’ll see.

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Truth in Fiction

Posted by on Apr 3, 2015 in Autism, Writing | 0 comments

AAM-logo-300x278Happy Autism Acceptance Month, everyone!

Haven’t heard of Autism Acceptance Month? Follow this link to the official site. Then watch Amethyst at Ask an Autistic give her take in the video at the bottom of this post.

But wait! read the rest of this post before you run off!

I’m planning posts I feel are related to acceptance for the rest of this month. Those topics include:AAMwordcloud3

  • Nuanced social learners
  • Drawbacks to LRE
  • Limitations of autism diagnostic criteria

But right now I want to talk about the book I finished reading today. I’m torn about how much I like it. The writing was good, I liked the story and the plot, there was a heavy focus on forensics, and there was a mystery/romance aspect, which is my favorite genre. It was about an autistic teen obsessed with forensics and setting up crime scenes for his mom to solve, who suddenly finds himself the subject of an investigation and subsequent murder trial. What’s not for me to love, right?

The exposition, as it turns out. I am of the opinion that expository writing in fiction should be kept to the absolute minimum. Here, though, it’s not the presence of exposition that bothers me, but the content. The author needs to get information about autism to the reader for the reader to follow the story and she does it rather skillfully through a combination of dialogue and narration. She also draws the autistic teen well, showing how he feels and the reasons others misunderstand him.

Where she loses me is with her opinions of the cause of autism. The author is clearly in the vaccine camp. I say this because that’s the only opinion given in the book and it’s combative in tone. Most of it comes from the mother in the story and the psychiatrist who first diagnosed and still treats her son. There is also one point where the autistic teen himself throws out a reason that his mother believes the vaccine theory. That’s actually the point where I threw the book across the room.

I’ve thought a lot about why the content and tone of this author’s exposition incenses me. I believe that authors should not push their own agenda onto the reader. Would it have bothered me if it were a different agenda? One on a different subject? Or one I actually agreed with?

Yes, it would.

But it wouldn’t have made me want to scream.

The anger is because she’s wrong, dead wrong, and she’s wrong about something I care deeply about. The vaccine theory has been disproved time and again. There is no causal link between autism and vaccines. I won’t say more than that here because it’s not the point of this essay.

The point is that my own autism is causing me internal discord over this book. It’s my black and white thinking. I like the writing and the story, but I can’t reconcile that with the blatantly incorrect theories put forth in the exposition. I can’t like the book and dislike it at the same time. Except that I do.


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First Draft

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Autism, Executive Functioning, Writing | 1 comment

writing messI’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but I never thought I had that kind of creativity in me. I’d never been able to sustain writing in a journal for longer than a few weeks at a time, let alone follow a fictional idea through to the end. So I resigned myself to telling books I thought were marginal that I could have done them justice. I could have written them better, which is what I think most aspiring-writers-who-don’t-actively-pick-up-a-pen do.

Ten years ago, something changed. I saw an ad in a magazine for a course in writing children’s literature and decided to try that. It didn’t go very well for me, but it did allow me a format to process my father’s illness and death. Then I stumbled upon a writer’s conference in Vancouver, Canada. I know now that there are several writer’s conferences and writer’s groups much closer to home, but this one had my favorite contemporary writer as the key note speaker. And it was within driving distance. And I’d never been to Canada.

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A New Plan

Posted by on Aug 1, 2014 in Autism, Autism in Adults, Autism in Children, Writing | 6 comments

ChangesAheadI was working on a post about how miserable I am when the temperature goes above 75°F, but have decided to table it until next week. Don’t get me wrong, I still find it nigh impossible to function in the heat, I’ve just found a topic that’s worth the Herculean effort this sweltering (to me – don’t judge) this Thursday afternoon.

I wrote last week about the pending re-evaluations for the boys. We won’t have the written reports for a month or so, but Sparky and I met with the neuropsychologist yesterday and were blown away. In addition to autism, he had a new diagnosis to add for each boy. Zoo Keeper has nonverbal learning disorder and BamBam has ADHD. I made a joke with that one about it being no wonder I’m so tired all the time, but rather than taking it as I intended, he said, “Well, yeah.” Then he told us that in a room of 100 five-year-olds, BamBam would be one of four who were unable to control their impulses. The other 96 would all have the ability to focus and their parents wouldn’t have to follow them around reminding them not to touch this or that and then taking it away from them when they touched it anyway.

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