Let’s Talk About Sex.

“Why do you write gay romance?”

Author interviews always seem to include that question for me. And my answer is probably never entirely satisfactory, mostly because I don’t have the answer. There was no epiphany or grand moment. No critical thought process that I’ve heard other MM Romance authors give.

Gender and sexuality have always been a bizarre concept to me. It’s an autistic thing. I feel a bit detached on the idea of both. So, for me, romance is romance is romance.

While I am a woman and I identify as one, gender is one of those concepts I’ve always been quite detached from. I’ve spoken with other autistics who also find the male/female thing confusing. It’s a hard feeling to accurately describe.

It doesn’t affect my writing–and yet it does.

And by that I mean, when I write my brain doesn’t get caught up on gender differences necessarily in the same ways I see from allistic others. I do, however, seem to get into a rhythm of writing something in particular and struggle to shift into a different area. So, after starting with After the Scrum, my flow has continued with M/M, though all things considered my novels tend to include a diverse group of relationships amongst the cast of characters in the stories.

Sexuality or sexual orientation is equally different in my head from how I hear a lot of allistic authors talking about with their writing.

Sex scenes whether m/m, m/f, mmf, or mmm are the hardest bits of writing for me.

Another part, as a panster, I never genuinely set out to do one or the other or a variation. The story just spontaneously shows up from wherever my muse lives in my brain. I barely manage to plot out…the plot.

(The annoying part that I have zero control over. Fucking muse lol.)

I swear I had a point when I started this blog post, but I’ve gotten distracted.

I genuinely considered deleting this and starting over, but other autistic romance authors might appreciate and relate to seeing my struggles.

 

 

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword.

 

I thought I’d share a bit about how I write–or more specifically, what I write with.

While I do write at my computer a lot, I tend to use paper and pen quite frequently. There’s nothing like the feel of using a pen and paper. It’s almost magical.

But, I’m quite particular about my pens. Like, particular.

  • They can’t be too thin, or they hurt my fingers.
  • They can’t make any weird scratchy noise when I write them.
  • I won’t use a pen that skips with ink. It needs to flow smoothly across the paper.
  • The ink can’t smell weird.

The photo above shows my favourite pens for writing plus an honourable mention or two. The black and silver Dr. Grip is my favourite and also the oldest. I’ve had it for probably fifteen years or so. It’s comfortable, writes smoothly, and I love it. The red one to the right is also Dr. Grip; it’s a multi-pen that I adore as well. It’s from Japan, so I had to get it sent to me.

The other three pens in the group are also Japanese. Two Coleto multi-pens and a duo pen from Platinum (I think that’s the brand.) The Coleto I actually got from Tokyo Pen Shop. I love both Coletos but find the one on farthest to the right to be easier on my fingers.

My Snoopy Coleto and the light blue pen are a little too thin to use for extended writing. I use them in my planner & bullet journal instead. Also, neither of them have the rubber grip. I know you can buy grips to add to pens–but those annoy me.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, do you hand write at all? Or prefer to use a computer?

 

 

 

Normal.

I can’t count the number of times a non-autistic has told me, ‘wow, you seem so normal.’ Or some version of that sentence, when told that I’m autistic.

And I’m not the only one.

I imagine that most adult autistics have heard it at some point–or repeatedly.

So, here’s a list of reasons why non-autistics SHOULD NOT tell autistics ‘but you seem so normal’ or any variation of the same.

  1. Because WE ASKED YOU NOT TO DO IT.
  2. Because we asked you not to.
  3. The implication feels as though you believe we are not autistic enough for you–which makes us wonder what exactly you are envisioning as the behaviour of an autistic.
  4. It’s rude.
  5. But mostly, because autistics repeatedly ask you not to do it.

I mean, I could honestly come up with fifteen or twenty reasons. The most important one remains, autistics continue to talk about why you shouldn’t do it…listen to us.

The most frustrating thing in the world is finding your voice as an autistic and finding non-autistics aren’t interested in listening.

Please. Do better.

Here’s a great video by an autistic activist about what things you shouldn’t say to an autistic:

Can You Hear Me Now?

Sound.

Well, honestly, it’s more the volume of it that has always been a tricky thing for me. Many autistics struggle to regulate the pitch and tone of their voices as well. We often end up too loud or too quiet–never just right.

Monotone is another word we hear thrown at us. It’s part of what I think convinces people autistics have no emotion. Our speech tends to be spoken with little to no inflexion. For what it’s worth, we also struggle to understand the subtle inflexions when a neurotypical speak.  (And let me tell you that leads to a lot of ‘fun’ if you happen to married to one.)

You can’t learn to add the inflexion either.

Trust me, I’ve tried.

Add to these issues my inability to instinctually grasp the flow of normal conversation, you can start to see how difficult group settings can be. I often end up either monopolising it or not contributing my thoughts at all. I never quite know when I’m supposed to interject.

I tend to speak too quietly to be heard in a group situation. I know don’t regulate my own volume well, so I prefer to err on the side of quiet. There’s nothing so embarrassing as shouting when you don’t know you’re doing it.

That’s the thing about being an autistic adult.

I’ve lived long enough to understand when I’m standing out–and not in a good way.

The other additional issue with group conversations for an autistic is that we usually need time to process what is being said in order to respond. If you have three or four people conversing, it becomes impossible for me to register everything being said and formulate a response. I get overwhelmed and since group settings don’t happen in a void–my brain is usually trying to decipher this through the prism of all the other sounds in the surrounding environment.

On any given day, I probably ask my husband to repeat himself at least twenty times. Not because I didn’t hear him the first time, but usually I need the extra time to process what he said. I often end up answering his question in the middle of his repeating it for the second time. It frustrates him.

And it frustrates me as well.

If I could tell the neurotypicals in my life two things, the first would be to have patience with the neurally divergent.  We’re doing our best.  Our best just might not be your idea of ‘best.’

The second thing would be–don’t tell us that ‘we’ll be fine’ when we’re expressing a frustration or concern. It feels dismissive. For most autistics, dealing with ‘normal’ life isn’t a matter of ‘it’ll all be fine.’ We’re going to push through the situation and on the other side of it, we’re going to struggle to decompress.

That’s the thing I think a lot of neurotypicals miss out on completely.

Can I go out in public and deal with large crowds?

Yes, I can. I’ll probably look just like everyone else when I do it as well–unless you know me well and are looking carefully.

But what you don’t see is me afterwards.  The migraines. The long, long hours I spend watching the same episode of a TV show over and over until the stress bleeds off.

So, don’t be dismissive. Sometimes autistics just want to know their fears have been heard. Maybe instead of ‘it’ll all be alright,’ you could say ‘wow, that sucks’ or ‘That’s rough. Can I help?’

This ramble was brought to you by the letters R and T.

 

 

The #AspieAuthor Guide to Travel

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Or, how I make flying easier on myself as an aspie.

I’ve traveled a lot in m life, and have learned the hard way that it can be very painful for myself to fly. So here’s a list of things I do to help myself.  It’s not comprehensive, but…it might help you.

– Purchase ticket online early.

I know I find being seated either by the window or aisle works best. I don’t like sitting in the middle and I prefer to be in the front of the plane as opposed to the back.

By getting my ticket early, it means I have a better chance of selecting the perfect seat.

– Arrive Early.

It allows me to check in early, get to the gate early and get through security without a crowd.

– Getting Through Security

Take off all jewelry, things from my pockets, etc and put in the front pocket of my carry-on backpack.  Wear sneakers that I can easily slide on and off.  Don’t wear a belt.

– Check in online if possible(or at the kiosk inside the airport).

Means no lines, no drama, no having to talk to people at counter.

– Headphones.

Bring headphones and an iPod (or kindle or tablet).  Even if I’m not listening to music, it looks like I am.

– Distractions.

I always bring a back-pack on the plane with me.  I put a change of clothes (or all my clothes I’m bringing if it’s short trip), notebooks, pens, books and fidget toys.  If the flight is long, I’m going to need them.

– Clothes.

Dress in my most comfortable clothing.  I’m not there to impress perfect strangers.  I’m trying to get through a stressful thing without a meltdown.  Ensuring my clothing is comfortable is one less thing to worry about.

– On the subject of packing.

Check the TSA guidelines out carefully for carry-on luggage. Nothing stresses me out more than getting something wrong and having to throw stuff out to get through security.

– Food/Water

Wait to buy water/snacks until you get through security. There’s always little stores/restaurants near the gates.

– Reserve Energy

I know people are going to talk to me either on the plane, or at the gate.  It’s going to happen.  So have a quiet evening the night before, indulge in my special interests to recharge my batteries so I’m capable of handling it.

– Lotion

Keep lotion handy in backpack.  My hands get itchy and can cause sensory overload. Lotion helps that quite a bit.

– Remember to say Thank You.

It goes a long way with airline employees. Be polite.

Seems silly to remind myself of that, but I’ve found as an Aspie, sometimes I get lost in my head and social niceties don’t come naturally to me.  I’m not trying to be rude, I just don’t always remember that I should say things like good morning, etc.

 

 

A Friendship Guide

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I think I’m going to start giving this out to my friends.

How to nurture a friendship with me, your friendly neighborhood autistic.

1. Remember that my brain works differently, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work at all, and it doesn’t mean I’m not human.

2. Remember that I find you as difficult to understand as you find me.

3. Vaccines didn’t cause my autism.

4. You are not a little autistic, unless you are actually autistic.  You claiming to be what I am, isn’t showing empathy.  It’s brushing under the rug the things I deal with.

5. Don’t hug me unless you know for 100% certainty that I’m okay with physical contact from you.

6. If I’m not talking, it’s not personal, I might’ve just reached my social engagement limit for the day.

7. Yes, certain sounds really do bother me as badly as I act like they do.

8. I’m not throwing a temper tantrum.  I am having a meltdown because I have gotten so much input, my brain can no longer process anything.

9. I would love to talk about my special interests and obsessions with you.

10. Don’t promise me you’re going to do something then not do it.

And most importantly, remember that I’m an actual person with feelings and emotions.  I might not always understand them, but I have them.  I need friends just as much as a neurotypical does.  It’s just a little (or a lot) harder for me to find, make and keep them.

I need friendships which are reciprocal with people who are patient and understanding.

 

Sounds.

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The frustrating thing about my sensitivity to sound is that nine times out of ten, I can hear something that my neurotypical family/friends can’t hear.

It leads to the most ridiculous arguments:

Me: Can you hear that?

NT: I don’t hear anything.  It’s all in your imagination.

Me: No.  I can hear it. Can’t you hear it? It sounds like a tapping.

NT: I’m telling you, it’s all in your head.

The frustrating thing about it is that it makes me feel like I’m losing my mind.  I’ll go thirty minutes hunting around until I can find the source of the sound just to prove I’m right.

I remember once it was the middle of the night and I kept hearing this quiet tapping.  It drove me batty, I had a meltdown because of it. All the while, my hubby was convinced I was either making it up or that it was just my imagination.

I finally turned all the lights on and located the sound–the bedroom fan was causing a small picture frame to bash against the wall, making a very slight knocking sound that my hubby could only hear if he got right up close to it.

It’s beyond aggravating to know you are hearing something, and no one believes you.

The moral of the story? Sometimes when a picture frame knocks in the night, it’s actually knocking.