Free to a Good Home–One Used Special Interest.

My special interests can be broken into several categories: collections, games, TV/movies, books.

And hobbies, but hobbies are the special interest that changes most.

Now, I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with the phrasing ‘special interest.’ It sounds patronising to me, and I know I’m not the only autistic who feels that way. But, I haven’t heard or come up with a better word for my autistic obsessions.

Hobbies I’ve tried and abandoned: knitting, chainmail, and many others. Most crafts wind up being more flash in the pan than a lifelong special interest.

Collections: mugs and notebooks mostly.

Video Games: Mass Effect trilogy, Dragon Age series, Watchdogs 1 & 2, Deus Ex, Assassin’s Creed.

Books: this is another one that varies. I tend to switch genres a lot. Currently? Cosy mysteries are my reading obsession.

Movies: a few, but the ones I rewatch obsessively when stressed out tend to be Jane Austen adaptations.

TV Shows: As Time Goes By, Bake Off, True Crime shows (like on ID network), so many shows, honestly.

How One Line Becomes Fifty Thousand Words

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I can’t speak for others, but my ideas come from a variety of places and almost always surprise me. At War with a Broken Heart was no different. It started with a song.

In my typical autistic way, I listened to Be Still by The Fray about a hundred times. I became obsessed. It even lulled me to sleep for months.

And then, from the vibe of the song, came a single line: “You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

I had that line rolling around in my head for days.

It didn’t fit anything I planned to work on, so I jotted it down in an empty A5 Muji notebook (I use them for my book bibles.)

One line became a conversation.

“You broke me. You lost the right to put me back together.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Well, I hope it made you feel better to finally say the words. I still feel like shit.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You sent me to war with a broken heart.”

The characters hadn’t even been named yet. I didn’t know who said which part. Or if this would turn into a second chance romance.

It didn’t.

And then, Fie Morogh Russell came first. Beardy bear of a man who makes pottery. The painful, heart-breaking words were his. His character clung to my muse.

Very distract and annoying since I was working on a different novel.

Some characters make me work for it. I tug their secrets out like a dentist with a wisdom tooth. Fie flooded my brain with more information than I could handle.

I knew he’d gone to war with a broken heart and returned a shattered soul. He’d lost friends—and himself in many ways.

He hid away with his dog, his music, and his pottery.

But those words wouldn’t leave me.

And At War with a Broken Heart finally came to live with Fie, Davet, and Sid.

It’s amazing how one line of dialogue can spawn a fifty-something word novel.

Quoth the Raven

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(I was going to start this out with, these are a few of my favourite things. But now I’ve got that damned song from The Sound of Music stuck in my head.)

I wanted to share a few of the quotes on writing that I go to when I’m floundering.  This first one from Neil Gaiman is actually pinned on the board above my desk.

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“I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on till I am.” ~ Jane Austen

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~ Terry Pratchett

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ~ Octavia E. Butler

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.” ~ Doris Lessing

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ~ Neil Gaiman

 

The Poisonous Influence of Perfection.

Me to my brain:
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Perfection is a toxic poison that strangles out my creativity.

And really, it’s less about perfection in the end product of my writing–and more about attempting to be expectations I’ve set up for myself of what I think others can do–or think I should do.

It’s a theme that has followed me throughout my adult life working first in restaurants, then as a teacher, and later in insurance.

A theme I didn’t truly understand before learning I’m autistic.

I’ve always needed to demonstrate my abilities at work. Striving to be the best. Not to overshadow others, but more to appear capable. I’ve had a fear of seeming unable to manage: work or life.

And as a result, I work myself to the point of exhaustion.

It’s a trend that followed me into writing.

Setting schedules and deadlines I can’t possibly manage.

Overachieving.

It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

It is when you’re ignoring your health.

Autistics, at least from my personal experience as one, tend to battle inner ableism. This little voice that tells me I’ve not only got to be at the same level as non-autistic authors but better. It’s poison.

It really is.

The same inner voice that tells me I don’t need help or accommodation when I do.

It eats away at your accomplishments and makes missed goals or deadlines seem like monumentally massive failures.

This year, I managed to almost double my word count.

Brilliant, right? Except not, I didn’t take the breaks between projects that I usually do. I’ve ended up not enjoying writing as usual.

And the last two novels I’ve worked on have been a painful slog until the bitter end.

Next year, one of my biggest focuses will be to enjoy myself with writing.

Deadlines are important and so are word counts, but I can’t write myself into a serious health issue again.

 

 

Top Five Holiday Movies

Well, it’s December. Officially. That means I can watch holiday movies and listen to holiday music without getting side eyes from people.

So, here are my top five holiday-themed movies, in no particular order:

– Love Actually (Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson kill me every time.)

– A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart version)

– A Christmas Carol (Animated version with Jim Carrey

– Last Holiday

– The Holiday

Bonus: A White Christmas

And honestly, you can add A Christmas Carol with George C Scott as well lol. Oh, and I always watch at least one of the Harry Potter movies in December.

Do you have a favourite holiday movie?

Remember to Breathe.

(Actual representation of me last week.)

I’ve reached the stage of NaNo where I hate words. I’m convinced I could happily burn my WIP. And I’m definitely questioning my sanity.

I’m tired.

In 2017, I wrote approximately 140k across several short stories and three novels.

This year, I’ve written a 90k novella trilogy, a 52k novel, and I’m on track to wrapping up another 65k – 70k novel. Plus a handful of flash fictions. So if all goes well, I’ll end 2018 having written over 200k words in total.

For me? That’s a lot.

In all honesty, this year, it was too much. I didn’t allow myself enough time to rest.  I didn’t set enough boundaries around my time.

Being a pantser (and not much of a plotter), my brain works best with breaks. I don’t really know where my ideas come from. I tend to just…sit and write, whatever comes out–comes out. Burning myself can be worse than writer’s block. More like writer’s too fucking tired to remember what words are.

I’ve promised myself to do better next year by taking breaks between my projects next year.

In part, my drive to do more and more comes from being autistic. I’ve an inner need to do and be more because of a less than healthy desire to make up for other areas where I can’t quite do what others do. (It’s hard to explain if you don’t experience it.)

On my list for December?

Relax, read through my massive TBR list, watch my favourite holidays movies, and wrap up this fun Urban Fantasy.

I’m not kicking myself if I don’t quite hit the NaNo deadline.

Writing should be fun, and if I add too much stress, I’m not doing myself any favours.

 

Find Your Joy.

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Can I be honest?

2018 has been a bit of a trash fire of a year, hasn’t it?

Stepping away from the chaotic whirlwind of bad news has been a struggle. Being creating in 2018 has been even more difficult. It’s important to write, even in the middle of the muck.

I think, more than any other time, it’s also important to find happy moments and pursue them.

For me?

This weekend, that meant baking, reading, and video games.

Baking? That went brilliantly. I made Mary Berry’s recipe for profiteroles, photo evidence above. They tasted AMAZING. They also didn’t last the weekend lol. Yum.

Reading? I finally got around to reading Alison Weir’s Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen, which I enjoyed immensely. I love a good historical fiction. And this one was definitely half fact and half fiction. Brilliantly done though.

Video games? I’ve gotten completely obsessed with the latest Assassin’s Creed game, Odyssey. Epic, brilliant, amazing. Love it so much.

Now, I’m back to writing on my new work in progress–an urban fantasy. Should be great fun.

How about you? What moments of joy are you finding for yourself this year?