I’m afraid to write neurodiverse protagonists.
I know, I know – why should I, seeing how I’m neurodiverse and all that? Well, here’s the thing: I’m not doing it right. I’m not being the accepted and known kind of neurodivergent. I’m not showing an inspirational struggle. Come to think of it I do not show my struggles at all.
Not saying there’s nothing, mind you. It’s just – you won’t understand. Like, really, you will not.
I meet some other nd squirrel and they get it without me having to say a word. But the nt world at large? No such luck.
So I don’t use the a-words when I write. I am careful with what I show. Is the protag stimming or are they just nervous?
Listen, LISTEN …
My protags get their weighted blankets. They have their routines and need their breaks from people. Their brains spin around like that hamster overtaking himself in the running wheel gif.
You don’t get it? That’s fine. Just enjoy the ride and take in the sights. It’s a whole new landscape. Nobody forces you to make sense of every last detail. Bathe in the flavour. This is the world experienced through somebody else’s eyes (and brain). Isn’t this what you want from reading? New experiences and adventures!
And we are expected to – and continuously do because what choice do we have? – translate neurotypical stories all the time. Nobody ever wonders – will this scan for nd people? Does it makes sense outside a neurotypical frame of mind? Are these nt character relatable outside their own in-group?
I’m pretty sure nt people reading my protags have several wtf-moments. Because their brains are not wired like that. I am not making sense (which, tbt, nothing new). And then the feedback piles in: can’t connect with the character, unrealistic, not making sense, nobody would ever…
Sounds familiar? Yeah. It is. And it’s nothing new for me because I heard that kind of thing about my-fucking-self for over 40 years.
So maybe sit down with a smoothie and listen for a sec.
- I’m not here to make sense for you.
- I’m not here to translate my experience for your brains.
- I am here to give you a glimpse into what it is like.
- I am here to write for people like me.
We deserve to see ourselves in stories. As we are. Not as NTs need to have us translated.