Knowing now…

It changed my perspective on the world. Reading that horrible book.

My reaction, the twitter threads, my review

Not only in the obvious way, in that I still feel like I waded through sewage to read it, and can’t quite get the stink off my soul.

But also in finding out how deeply caring the #actuallyautistic community is.

I sort of knew that, I mean, I’ve never met a more empathic group of people than autistics, (most of them, there’s bad apples everywhere, but by and large, autistics are wonderful people) but I’ve never been deeply involved in the community. Mostly because I only got my DX a couple of years ago.

I post on the #actuallyautistic hashtag when I remember to, but I’m ridiculously busy.

It feels like all of my time is taken up by being a mom of two, a spouse, a writer, an editor, a sensitivity reader, a reviewer, and a critique partner to several other authors as well as trying to be a good friend to the people I’m close to.

So the outpouring of appreciation and love from the autistic community and our allies has just amazed me.

I didn’t expect it.

I’m so grateful for it, because after reading that book? I really needed it.

Thank you, all of you, so much.

The faith I lost in a lot of NT people has been replaced by faith in all of us. Together, I really do think we can make our voices heard.

And for the sake of future generations of autistics, I think we have to.

I’ve been contacted privately by dozens of NTs who really do want to learn to do better.

So no. As tired as I am, I’m not shutting up and I’m not backing down.

It takes a lot to make me angry, long, long fuse, but I’m both angry and determined now.

My kids, all autistic kids, all autistics… we all deserve a better world than the one that lauds a book like To Siri with Love.

I have no idea how we’ll make that happen, but I think if we stand together, and we don’t let ourselves get too exhausted by it all, we can do it.

So, in all of this, do remember to take care of yourselves. I know the emotions are strong, they really, really, are, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Remember to rest, and care for yourselves.

Kae-

 

A reaction to reading TO SIRI WITH LOVE from an #actuallyautistic author.

You know. I started reading that horrific book as a bit of a whim, thinking it wouldn’t be that bad.

I’m the autistic mom of autistic kids, my husband is autistic, we value and appreciate our children and ourselves in pretty much every particular. Are there challenges? Absolutely. But they aren’t anything that neurotypicals don’t deal with, we just deal with them differently.

Usually by communication. We use text a lot with each other, because a lot of times it’s far easier to type or sign than it is to talk.

The point isn’t how we use adaptive technology to make our lives run smoothly, the point is that we communicate.

So I honestly, to the soul of me, didn’t understand how a mother could write and publish a book that would be anything except a joyful celebration of her child’s uniqueness.

I had hoped, foolishly, I guess, that the screenshots of the book I’d seen before reading it had somehow been… not so much taken out of context, but perhaps were just… I don’t even know, overblown maybe?

I didn’t understand how a mother could think those things about her brilliant child.

And never for a moment did I think, reading about Gus, that he’s anything less than brilliant.

He’s so smart I have a feeling he’s manipulating his mom because of how she so very clearly infantilizes him and shows overweening favoritism to his twin Henry, who is also autistic.

Though obviously, neither the author nor Henry know this. Henry shows all the markers of autism, he just presents differently.

We ALL present differently. Which is part of why autism is so hard for most people to recognize when they see it, and that absolutely includes so-called professionals (most of whom are neurotypical) in the field of diagnosis.

It’s a common reaction for autistics when we are abused by ABA practices (to learn to manipulate) especially if ABA therapies are impinged upon us by parents who believe the revolting bullshit that Auti$m $peaks tends to tout.

We learn to do everything in our power to protect ourselves, because we don’t have any choice.

This author… the things she does to both of her sons. It’s utterly appalling.

I can’t, even still, after reading that atrocity… I still can’t believe that a mother could write those things about her kids!

I can’t believe she’d share such personal things about her KNOWN autistic son, without his permission.

Without his knowledge.

Medical information, daydreams about having a ‘normal’ Gus… I just…

Reading that book broke something in me. It really did. It broke a faith I had that neurotypical society didn’t really hate me and the way I’m made.

And a couple of days after reading it and posting my review, I’m still shaken by it. I’m recovering, but it’ll take a week or more to regain my emotional equilibrium.

The outpouring of love and support I’ve received from the autistic community and a large number of neurotypical people have restored my faith in most of humanity.

“Autism parents”, however? They’re on my shit-list for life.

You can read my full review here, with links to the live-tweet threads I did as I broke it down, chapter by chapter.

If you want to know about the experience of being autistic, the hashtags #actuallyautistic and #askanautistic are far better resources than pretty much anything else I can think of.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017, Let’s Do This!

Okay. So.

Everyone has to find their own method for writing novels. Shhh. I’m serious! Pipe down!

There is a metric TON of ‘writing advice’ out there but there isn’t a skeleton key or a magical panacea that is going to help YOU get YOUR novel written.

‘Cause that’s on you. You’re the one who has to BICHOK it (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard)

And it’s HARD. Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying!

I figured I’d outline my methodology and the tools I use, so that if any of them can be of help to you, you can steal’em.

First things first. I rarely wait until exactly midnight on nano eve. I know, I know. But I try to make sure I sleep during dark hours during nano. I have insomnia, so on the nights when I’m likely to sleep, I try to make that happen. You need to be aware as you’re going through nano, especially if this is your first one, that if you want to ‘win’ you’ll have to write, a LOT. That means it’s really easy to neglect your health. Drink water! Take your vitamins! Try to be aware of that thing called sleep as well as that thing called writing.

One of the things me starting a day or so ahead of time gives me is a bit of a cushion. Usually by the time nano rolls around ‘officially’ I have a word count cushion of between 6 and 20K. This year, I started with 17k, most of that was actually cut from the end of the first book in this series and will be part of the second act of this second book, because it fit better in the timeline.

It equals out, because my goal for nano is never the 50k. It’s always the first draft of a full novel, and my novels range between 80 and 145k. This year, I’m shooting for 100k.

Nano is me lighting a fire under my butt to help myself remember how much I really do love fast drafting (and I adore it. It’s wonderful.)

Now, to the tools and techniques.

I outline ahead of time. It was a hard-won skill for me because, at heart, I’m a pantser. I learned in nano 2015 (when I drafted what became Ilavani) that in order to write that fast, you NEED to let go of ye’old editor brain and just WRITE.

Having a skeleton outline helps me do that. (It also saves my butt on revising and editing, too, which helps, a lot.) I focus on making it pretty AFTERWARDS.

I use Scapple to outline. It’s free-form, so you can use the Three Act Structure or the 8 point story arc or whatever version of outlining works for you. You can do a free trial of it, it’s made by the same peeps who make scrivener.

You Don’t Have To Outline. 

But it works for me.

Secondly, I use word count goals, I write in Scrivener (you can get a free trial of that too). Under the PROJECT tab, click PROJECT TARGET. It’ll let you customize it to how long your books should be and how many words you should shoot for per day. (NaNo suggests you shoot for 1667 words per day.)

I use AeonTimeline for keeping track of what is supposed to be happening when, and making sure that X event happens before Y and Z comes after both. Downloading the software automatically gives you a free trial. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but there’re videos on youtube to help you out.

I utterly love the word counting function on Nano. I found Pacemaker to be quite helpful when NaNo isn’t available for tracking purposes.

Don’t forget that I have a resources page here on my site, some of the weird stuff I link there may be of help.

Now, go out and write some words!

 

 

Asexual Identity and the Power of Fiction

Growing up, after I learned to read (I’m dyslexic, in a time when it wasn’t recognized or treated) I was always the kid with their nose stuck in a book.

Books were a way for me to live lives that weren’t as abused as mine was. They were places I could escape to when life, as it often proved, hurt too much.

That hasn’t really changed.

But when I think back to the youth I was, and what words I needed to be reading then… how much they would’ve helped me…

How having words to describe my ME, back then… would’ve saved me so much pain, it makes me wish, fleetingly, that I actually had the skill to write YA. (I don’t, we’re not really in much danger of that, writing for kids has to be the hardest type of writing there is.)

But that’s truly beside the point. Having words like asexual, demisexual, autochorisexual, aromantic, bisexual, pansexual… all of the queer words I needed then in the fiction I was able to access at the time. It would’ve been so world changing for me.

Never forget that kids (many young adults read up, I know I certainly did) learn from our fictional words and worlds. We need the words on the page and we need them by own voice authors so that we can get the full spectrum of aromanticism and asexual identity on the page for people to read.

People who. like me, needed it when they were younger, and maybe even people like me at 39, who’d never heard of the term ace or asexual or demisexual… we need these words on the page and we need publishing to give us books WITH these words.

A while ago, I wrote this letter to my younger self. If I could send it back through the years, so many choices I made back then would’ve been made differently.


Dearest Kae,

You won’t believe this, but I’m sending you this letter from the future. I need to tell you some very important things. Things I wish I’d known when I was you.

Right now, you are surrounded by people who are doing terrible things, trying to convince you to do things you will regret even when you reach as old as forty.

I know, you’re sixteen, you probably think forty is ancient. It’s a long time to carry a regret, I can tell you that much.

There is a word for why you’ve never understood wanting to have sex and relationships like everyone around you is so very convinced you should.

Three, actually.

Demisexuality means that you must have an emotional attachment to someone before you can enjoy sex or a relationship with them. You may not even feel physical desire without emotional connection. You don’t feel that with him, you know you don’t. You will regret letting him pressure you into things you don’t want to do.

Gray aromanticism and autochorisexuality are the words describing how romance doesn’t make sense to you outside of books. That too, is something you’ll regret pressing on with until it happens naturally.

All three are forms of asexuality, and being asexual is not a curse. Above all, you need to know you aren’t broken.

And it’s truly okay for you to say no until you meet someone who you do feel romantically inclined for. It happens when you’re twenty. Sex will be all the more worth waiting for, if you do.

I promise.

It’s not the same for people like you are, like me, as it is for many people, and I wouldn’t suggest this to someone who actually wanted to have sex. For someone who wanted to, I’d suggest they get education and protection and enjoy themselves. But you and I both know that you don’t really want to go there.

I know, from the advantage of age, how much you’ll regret it, and that it isn’t worth it.

Unfortunately, the books you read don’t have the experience or the words for you to learn. I wish, with all my heart, that you did. It’s 2017 now, and I’m writing from a time period when we’re finally seeing these words and these experiences on the page.

Giving in to the kind of pressure you’re under, it will not make you happy. I know that, because I am you.

What will make you happier is concentrating on your studies so that you can have your pick of Universities to go to. Whole new worlds open up to you in University. You’ll be shocked at how many friends you end up making. At the wonderful doors that open to you.

I needed to share my hard-won words with you. I wish I’d known them when I was your age. I would’ve made many different decisions.

Chosen other paths.

Words are important.

There is so much more. Remember, never stop writing, no matter what. Oh! Before I forget, you’re pansexual and pagan, too. From my vantage point, you’ve written several beautiful books, have a beloved husband of 19 years and two wonderful kids.

Told you I had some things to tell you.

Kaelan

 

 

Atypical

I’m apparently a masochist. (Why, yes, I actually did know that.) Because I just tried to watch the Netflix show Atypical.

I’m autistic, so are my kids.

My choosing to watch that show may possibly have been one of the most painful things I’ve ever inflicted upon myself (and considering I’m a recovered cutter, that’s rather saying a LOT.)

Breaking down the thought process that led me to that… I was annoyed that a show I liked (Musketeers shhhh, it was trash, but it was fun trash w/hot people in cool clothes and it didn’t irritate me too badly) had wrapped at three seasons.

AND I heard today that Atypical got renewed.

AND I saw some ppl in a facebook group I’m part of lauding what a wonderful show it was and how glad they were that it was renewed.

AND I’m sick with something flu-like and I can’t sleep.

AND I’m rather massively and perpetually annoyed at Netflix for constantly canceling diverse shows I adore. (Musketeers was a BBC and/or creator decision, not Netflix, SENSE8, Marco Polo and The Get Down was Netflix and I’m still sore about that.)

I still pay for the service for two reasons, 1) My kids like the cartoons and it’s better than letting them watch youtube vids when I need 30 seconds of peace. 2) I’m waiting on the Sense8 series finale.

Frankly? After that? If Netflix doesn’t clean up their game I’m out. It feels like they’re just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick, then when they find something that people love (like any of the above mentioned shows) they pull it for whatever reasons they have. I’m betting on cis-allo-het-white supremacy by the people who run the joint, but hey. I’m annoyed at Netflix.

The first episode of Atypical (all I managed to get through) lasted 40 minutes. I did a thread on it for my twitter peeps.

It felt like a lot longer, and I think it took me three hours to get through with the number of comments I had about it. I will NOT be going back. I have no idea how any autist managed to get through it, though I’m pretty sure several have.

I’m left with the feeling that if that’s what most neurotypical peeps think of us? There’s no way on the goddesses green earth that you’ll ever understand us.

Because you don’t even try.

A mutual on twitter who is also autistic reached out and shared their threads, in case you’d like to see someone else’s opinion. Share with authors permission.

April is MUCH stronger than I am. I don’t even want to watch it for the coded autistic sister.

A general opinion thread on the show

 

Self Harm

People don’t like to talk about self-harm. It scares them, it makes them uncomfortable.

Even though so many people do it.

You probably do.

The thing is about self-harm, there’s ways and there’s ways. There’re the active ways one can self harm, like cutting oneself, taking drugs and drinking too much, too often. Driving too fast, taking physical risks in the name of feeling alive and so many other ways I could never list them all. Being demisexual, I’ve punished myself by having sex with people I didn’t want to because I SHOULD want to. (Yes, I know… shush, I have a point to make here.)

Then there’re the passive ways of harming oneself. Things like failing to take one’s medicine on time, staying up to ridiculous hours at night when you don’t HAVE to because of pain or insomnia, not resting when you need it. Continuing to work and push and harm yourself further so that you don’t feel ‘lazy’ and ‘unworthy’. Not exercising (if you CAN exercise, I can’t, and I miss it). So, so many ways.

Lately, I seem to have developed, (since roughly last year at this time maybe? Or maybe when my brother killed himself? I don’t know, exactly when I developed it) but I don’t eat when I’m upset.

This is the diametric opposite to what I’d do when I was younger, when I’d go through a huge box of donuts, stuffing myself with them even though I didn’t really WANT a donut. In some sort of misguided attempt to feel better.

In the past five days I’ve eaten two half sandwiches, three granola bars, two bites of macaroni and cheese and three tiny sauteed mushrooms.

Yes. I know. It’s not healthy. It’s not sustainable, and I don’t know why I’m doing it to myself.

I AM trying to eat. But the act of eating is extremely hard right now. Maybe subconsciously I feel like I don’t deserve food if people can think such ill things of me?

I don’t honestly know.

Frankly, I’m not really great at remembering to eat in the first place, but I usually DO eventually eat what I’ve made. Often after reheating it twice because I’m doing something more important.

Lately though, I’ll make the food, it’ll get cold (or warm) and I’ll eventually force myself to eat a bite or two, then I’ll feel like my body is gonna upchuck it all and I’ll give it up.

It’s probably great for weightloss, which, yes, I could still stand to lose more weight, simply because I don’t like the way I FEEL when I’m this heavy, but this is in no way, shape, or form a healthy way to go about doing it.

I’m sharing this part of a very personal struggle for me not to cast blame or anything, I don’t hold grudges against innocent people.

I’m sharing it so that anyone else who is going through a similar struggle might know… you’re not alone. If we can keep talking, maybe it’ll make the stigma of being mentally ill less ostracizing.

Less… damaging.

And maybe we can start healing as a human society. Lord and Lady know we need to.

 

 

Autistic Burnout

CW Self-harm, trauma reference, sexual abuse reference

Autistic burnout is where I find myself right now. It’s a lot like a nervous breakdown, and maybe a bit like clinical depression, but not quite like either. It’s got me right to the edge of a full-on psychotic break with regards to my PTSD and anxiety. I’m a recovered cutter, and yeah… I had to go back on anti-depression meds recently to cope with the desire to self-harm. I got my kit out on Friday. I didn’t use it, I have to give myself credit for that, but I haven’t even looked at it in over ten years.

The fact is, though, that I WANTED to use it. So for me to say, “I’m not in a good place right now” I REALLY MEAN THAT.

I’ve been through a psychotic break before, as well as a nervous breakdown. I have a very long history of trauma, sexual abuse, self-harm, and assorted mental health trail mix. I know the signs, I also know what I have to do.

I’ve had to remove the twitter app from everything but my computer. I can’t remove my presence there completely, and if I did, I’d miss people that I HAVE come to think of as closer to being friends than not.

I’ve already lost my joy and desire to be there. To even be on the internet at all. (and I LOVE the internet, or I used to) I’m having to make myself get on. Currently, I have an alarm set to go off for when I need to get on and try to interact.

Considering it’s 99% of my social interaction? How I get my sales, clients for editing/sensitive reading etc, communication with my editor who is working on my pre-pubbed book BLOODBOUND and my own editors as well as work? It’s how I communicate with my CPs and do my research for books? It’s even how I pay my bills. Yeah.

But right now? If I don’t make an effort to get on… in case you’re wondering, I’d probably never come back.

I will recover, I hope. I’m taking care of myself, but I’ll be scarce while I build myself back up. Much as I hate the symbology of the puzzle piece for autism (because of who uses it) it’s a lot like putting the puzzle pieces of ME back together.

In no uncertain terms, I’m shattered. I have to rebuild myself. Again. I often wonder when I’ll have lost enough of my pieces that I won’t make a whole picture anymore.

I know several autistics who won’t go near the internet because they’ve run into similar problems. Being misunderstood, running themselves into burnout…

I don’t want to be one of them.

In reality… and what helps me do the rebuilding, it’s clinging to the things in my life that are REAL. I’m holding my kids longer, just so I can feel that they’re real. I’m taking more time with my food, when I have any appetite at all. (I think I’ve eaten breakfast today? Which is the first thing of any solidity I’ve eaten all weekend, so it’s an improvement?) That’s a part of how autism affects me. The very idea of making myself eat, because of the textures in my mouth, the feel of the food in my belly, it all makes me nauseous. So that too, is something I’m making myself do, when honestly, all I want to do is make myself bleed so the pain has someplace else to be. (If I didn’t do it this past friday, I probably won’t. I’m not as low as I was then… I put the kit away, so I think I’m okayish.)

I’m making myself try to go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Tactile sensations are helping a lot, if they’re ones I choose.

I have to step back and away from just about everything for a while. Until I can be sure again what is real and what isn’t. Cause right now, nothing feels that way. I feel like everything I know, or thought I knew is just dust in the wind. (Yes, I listen to Kansas, shush, I’m old.)

The fact that a lot of my problems tie back to a horrifying event that I had nothing to do with… yet still got blamed for, and am, to this day getting blamed for (the harassment I suffered a few months back was also part of that, though I didn’t say so at the time) is playing a very large part in my reaction.

One of the things a lot of autistics really have a problem with is injustice. But we’re usually accused, easily, because 80 some odd percent of the population doesn’t understand us and most don’t bother to try. (If you know 50 adults, you know two passing autistics, and it takes a toll to pass.) In the past year, I’ve been accused, hounded, harassed (seriously, you should see my harassment folder in my email inbox… if it were paper it’d be as high as my head) threatened, and my family has been too. There’ve been death threats, threats to out my legal name, my husbands and my kids. There’ve been accusations of so much I’d never, EVER, consider doing. Just… so much peeps.

I didn’t honestly know what the final straw would be. I was hoping never to find out. I thought… because I’d been wise enough to go get meds, and that they seemed to be evening me out… that maybe I was on the mend.

Not so much.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing the official letter of delay for my authors at Multifarious Press. I have to, because of my inability to cope with anything right now, put the anthologies on hold until 2018.

If the contracts are already signed, I’ll be giving the authors a chance to break contract to sell their stories elsewhere. It’s not my intent to be terrible to people.

I’ll put up further notices when I know for sure what we at Multifarious have decided to do going forward. I’m not making any final decisions right now, but frankly? I don’t think I have the heart for it anymore. I’ll make any decisions after I’m more stable, but… you need heart to deal with something like a press, and I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. Who knows… maybe I’ll surprise myself. I keep thinking of all those (truly amazing) stories by marginalized authors I have in my query inbox. I hope it’s enough. I truly hope that time and the brilliance in my To Be Read folder will be enough to restore my heart.

Sitting here wrapped in my fuzzy blankets, earphones on to help ground me to what is REAL (that’s a large part of how I recover myself when shutdown) I’m not making any firm decisions about anything, not even dinner. Which I suppose I should go eat.

It’s not fair, nor is it right to the people I’ve promised publication to. It’s not fair or right to me, my family, anyone who has come to count on me, but I absolutely cannot push myself further right now without risk of utter collapse that might see me institutionalized.

For the fulls *I* have requested for the press. (Unless I learn differently, Cit and Kieru are still open for queries, Jamie and I are closed) I’ll work on getting them finished and an answer back to the authors while I’m closed to queries. These stories are so good guys, and I want to see them in the world. Don’t wait on me, just let me know if the situation changes and someone else wants them, please, so I can work on someone else’s.

I’m going to be concentrating on my writing a lot, I have an opportunity to sell a novella to my editor, so I’m going to do that. Maybe sharing my writing lines in the hashtag games will be enough of an internet presence for now. At least until I’m less fragile.

Writing has saved my mind and my life more times than I can count. It’ll help.

You know, I started the press to help marginalized people. I just have to figure out if closing it, or keeping it open will do the least amount of harm. To the marginalized people I opened it for… and to me.

Maybe I’m just too broken to be any good to anyone except my family and my stories. Life sure does seem to delight in throwing me into the deep end and failing to throw me a life-line.

I just need time to remember how to swim, before I drown.