I have something to get off my chest. Bear with me for a moment. I’ll get there.
There’s a huge number of people I know, who I consider friends. I recognize that some of them are closer to me than others, and that some have known me a LOT longer than others. At 54, I’ve had plenty of time to make and lose friends in my life.
The universal truth in this is that some of my friends think that their relationships to me gives them the right to say thing that might on the surface sound helpful, but actually turn out to be quite the opposite. So let me take a moment to clarify something and then I’ll just move on to the real topic here. If you want to know more about my motivation, read on.
I’ve been writing a long time. When my dad first handed me the portable Smith Corona (which in hindsight must have belonged to my mom), I was a young teen. I got involved with my high school newspaper as a freshman or sophomore. By my senior year, I’d launched a literary magazine to replace the newspaper, when we stopped producing it. We only printed three or four issues, but in The Spectrum we provided a platform for poets and artists who wanted to have their works seen and read by their fellow students.
In college, I helped found Midnight Theatre as a platform for students who wanted to share their work, poetic or theatrical, in an informal jam-style setting. That Midnight Theatre still exists, 33 years after I graduated, is a tribute to the students who want their voices heard as much as it is gratifying to know that something I founded is still in operation, or if it isn’t, that it lasted so very long.
Since then, I’ve launched one other newsletter, for an organization that needed to rethink its communication tools. It’s different in scope from what I envisioned, but only because each new editor has contributed something meaningful to the structure I created.
The writers I admire most–Jean Kerr, Andy Rooney, Robert Fulghum, Erma Bombeck, and others like them–wrote their observations on life, often with humor, mostly with sharp recognition that humans aren’t perfect. Each of these writers has a distinctly unique voice, as it should be.
I’ve worked hard to find my own voice when I write, because getting what’s in my head out and on paper (even if that paper is actually intangible electrons) is vitally important to my sanity. It’s awesome that other people read what I write, and even better when what I write resonates enough with them that they share my work, but let’s get one thing straight: I’m not trying to be any other writer. I’m me.
I’m going to keep on writing whether you like what I have to say or not. I’m not writing for you. If I choose to post a link to the things I’ve written, it’s not because I think you need to read my writing. It’s because I already answered the question you asked and I’m not going to cut and paste my well-considered work into someone else’s social media feed, to be shared out of context.
Does that rub you the wrong way? Is my work TL;DR for your attention span? Tough. That’s your problem, not mine.
Criticize my works for content because I got the facts wrong? Tell me about it so I can edit the work and fix the error.
Criticize my works for not being like Jim Wright or any other popular writer? You can fuck right off. I’m a Stonekettle Station fan. I’m not trying to BE Jim. And the same goes for all the other bloggers out there. If I like their work, I’ll post links to what they’ve written. I’ll quote them when I think it’s better than using my own words. With attribution and a link back to their work.
Do us both a favor: Never ever use our friendship as a way to shut my writing down, or you will find really quickly that we are no longer friends. Not in the Facebook sense, and not in real life. If you have the impulse to shut me down, make room for someone else on my wall instead. I guarantee you I’ll be just like this in real life, too.
I don’t have the filters built in to separate your online snark from your in-person mask. I understand why, now, thanks to all the recent media about how high functioning autism presents in girls and women, and it’s freeing, really.
At my age, acutely aware of mortality (thanks to my mom’s long-term battle with Multiple Sclerosis) I know that life is a limited time offer. So I’m just going to keep on doing my thing, and you can read or not as you see fit.
Got it? Good.
Stuff you should read:
Scientific American: Autism—It’s Different in Girls: New research suggests the disorder often looks different in females, many of whom are being misdiagnosed and missing out on the support they need
NOTE: From the Scientific American article, see these additional resources:
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism. Expanded edition. Temple Grandin. Vintage, 2006.
Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome. Rudy Simone. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2010.
The Autistic Brain: Thinking across the Spectrum. Temple Grandin and Richard Panek. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
Sisterhood of the Spectrum: An Asperger Chick’s Guide to Life. Jennifer Cook O’Toole. Jessica Kingsley Pub, 2015.
Seeking Precise Portraits of Girls with Autism. Somer Bishop in Spectrum. Published online October 6, 2015. https://spectrumnews.org/opinion/seeking-precise-portraits-of-girls-with-autism