Those of you that follow this intermittent blog know that last year was… well, it was a thing.
A lot happened, and a lot…. didn’t happen.
I had a whole heap of mental health stuff that broke me. I don’t think I wrote a single thing. I allowed myself to become small, and bland, and grey. It got me nowhere. It hurt me. It hindered me and, quite frankly, fuck that!
The start of this year was full of revelations about all this. And so, I promised myself that this year I am going to do things whole heartedly my way, not only this but I am going to return to being unashamedly myself. I am going to return to failing hard as I just TRY things and learn the way I need to. I am going to return to throwing myself into the things that bring me joy.
Those promises are…. well, we’re only ten days into January, so I can’t beat myself up too hard, but I suppose they are going.
I still feel defective, though; I don’t know if that’s the job loss, the revelations, or something else, but it’s still rearing its head. Popping up to say hello and remind me I was correct, my brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s and so things are, almost by nature, going to be harder.
I feel though like I’m moving forward slowly, I mean, I want to say like walking through treacle slowly, but again, it’s only the 10th January. Anyway, I’m moving forward; I’ve set up a post on Instagram for a free editing opportunity so I can try to build a portfolio in order to apply for jobs in line and developmental editing (which I think I’d be fantastic at). I’ve queued up my reading reviews from over Christmas so I’m ahead on my bookstagram and I’ve decided to cannibalise my first ‘proper’ book I published in order to repackage it as YA – because I think it would work better as the upper end of YA. I’ve also got the second novel I can use and then a third YA novel planned.
I decided, as I move forward slowly (I have a nice cushion of five months before I have to look at heading back into something officey or god forbid retail), that I’m going to share this experience.
I’m going to blog and gram as I go through this. As I learn, as I grow and as I inevitably fall flat on my face.
So, I suppose this is where we start.
Here I am in my living room, paralysed by something that’s making it hard to put pen to paper. The funny thing is nothing actually caused this, well not really, I didn’t get some awful critique, review or scathing message about my writing that made me cry. I’ve never felt upset if writing/stories doesn’t garner attention (because my view is write expecting to be ignored, because most people don’t care – then anything else is a bonus). I tried Tumblr again earlier in the year, but I was halfway to paralysis and it didn’t help, it didn’t make it worse either. If anything, it should have made it better because I had people wanting to write with me.
I could say this is all about self-confidence and how it was stripped last year, but that was me. It wasn’t my writing. There must be some connection there though, I just haven’t quite put the pieces together yet.
I decided in the last few days to help with this paralysis, still be productive and get some writing done that I was going to cannibalise my first novel The Search for Silverdeer and repackage it as YA. Normally I would turn to fanfiction for a boost but there isn’t much I want to write fanfiction about at the moment that I haven’t already done. To ease myself back into writing, then I figured Silverdeer would be good to rework. It would also work really well as YA and we all know YA sells.
I worked on Silverdeer for ten years; I told the story I needed to tell. The filmic one I wanted. I got that out of my system; I published it and people enjoyed it. I’m immensely proud of it because it’s a bloody good story with some bloody good writing and characters, but Silverdeer has more potential. I know in my bones it does.
There’s also a whole area of authordom/writing that gives me the ick – it’s the marketing, the numbers, the business side of it – and now I understand that it’s because of how my brain works. It’s because of my neurodivergence and since learning more about myself, about how neurodivergent (autism in this case) brains work. I’m able much more easily to rationalise and partition my feelings about those things. I’m able to understand that my brain is lying to me about certain things I’ve felt strongly about.
I feel like somewhere, buried in the chaos of a neurodivergent crowd is a tiny little business man with glasses and a squeaky voice coughing and trying to tell me I can do the business stuff too, I just need to learn how to make it work for me.
This means I’m going to have to give Nigel (that’s what I’ve called him), some room to breathe, to have his voice and to help me. It means I’m also going to have to do a lot of reading and 95% of my brain can’t process, but Nigel will hopefully be able to.
I’m not sure if my plan is unconventional but it’s my plan.
I can hear you saying ‘but Laura, there’s lots of advice out there for writers’, and that’s true, there are a lot of amazing resources, authors, and members of the publishing world offering advice. Good advice. A lot of it is free too. Advice geared specifically towards neurodivergent authors appears to be lacking though, which means, from the simple searches I’ve done, it’s harder to find. This means I feel a bit like I’m stepping into the unknown, but also because neurodivergence can be so wildly different for each individual, I also have to navigate my own path and I don’t mean the ‘everyone has their own path’ that neurotypical’s can follow, where they can mostly pull advice from various corners of the internet and mesh them together. I mean the forging your own path through a thick forest of vines and spiderwebs and various oversized plants.
Because being neurodivergent is harder. No matter how many ‘we’re all a bit weird’ and other such sayings people throw out. There is fundamentally something different about my brain that cannot understand a lot of what neurotypical people find easy, especially when navigating spaces, like the indie publishing sphere, that rely heavily (especially when funds are low), on what I see as schmoozing people, but in general it’s being sociable, interacting, and engaging, with people I might not be particularly interested in. My brain, my neurodivergence – which is not officially autism yet, but let’s be honest I’m 95% sure it is – sees this as being false and therefore inauthentic and sees it as lying. Which, at its base level, I suppose it is. The sense of justice in me finds it incredibly wrong and immoral, even though the other half of my brain understands it’s not. Not just this also the idea of interacting with lots of people and them believing they have more of a relationship with me than they do terrifies me.
So, there it is. I’m hoping blogging/gramming about my experience will help keep me accountable. I’m seeing this as a way to record my journey (though I feel so late starting it – even with 15+ years writing experience under my belt), I’m seeing it as a way to help keep me reflecting, learning and growing and if some people want to come along for the ride they are more than welcome too.