Musing on the State of My Writing Career

It’s been about 2 years since I started querying Sava. The only agents left on my list (of 142 agents) by now are those who were closed whenever I looked (maybe even all the time) and those whose agency siblings have a query at the moment.

I sent 102 queries in these two years. Of those, 68 were passed on. Only 2 of those 68 agents said to send more materials should I query something else. One pass was personalised but with no actionable feedback which was fine.

I hat 1 request of a full and 1 request for a partial so far. The full came back with a form rejection which broke my heart. The request for the partial came from a query I CNRed to query somebody else at the agency. (And got a quick pass on.) I am grateful for the turn of events but also very confused.

I CNRed 6 queries to query somebody else at the agency. 9 queries are at a place where I could CNR them but since there’s nobody else I wanna query, I do not. If they have no time line to when “no reply means no” those queries will just keep floating around as undecided until I need to do an action.

I keep thinking to call it quits for Sava. I will keep querying her until I have my next fantasy ms ready to send. I’m at a point where I can’t muster the energy to send e-mail queries. Query Manager exists. I love the thing. Maybe there will be days when I can send e-mail queries. I don’t know.

Also, I have been querying so long, that by now agents changed agencies. Something my spreadsheet doesn’t always catch because it’s sorted by agency. I do not need the mortification of realising I sent another query to an agent who already passed on the ms.

I have learnt a lot in the past two years. Unfortunately, a lot of that made me disillusioned about tradpub. Why even bother getting an agent when editors sell their novels in-house in six-figure deals without jumping through any hoops?

In general tradpub is very conservative with their choices, so what chance do I even have? I am tired of the staples that tradpub loves. Who will even want my autistic protags when the story is in no way centred around that fact at all? How do I make readers realise their protag is neuro-atypical if simply writing people like me just makes them unrelatable?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m finding my niche that is just be autistic enby protags in fantasy and sci-fi. I’m just not sure what to do here now.

For Sava? I think once she died in the querying trenches, I will overhaul her to make her autistic traits more visible. That won’t be anything major, so I can’t yeet her at agents again afterwards. Maybe my next ms will score an agent. Maybe they will be happy to have another ready-to-go autistic fantasy.

I’m mostly disappointed and resigned, though. I’m going through the moves because it is what you do and right now I have nothing else. I started to save a little each month for selfpub. If by the time it amounts to enough to get a book out sensibly, I am still in the querying trenches, Sava might go that way.

Or maybe the erotica thriller (or so I have been told) goes that way first. I know nothing about the genre and don’t see myself returning to it. Maybe I’ll throw out my novellas that way. There’s a play in the depths of my portfolio and one or two volumes of poetry.

What I wish for most is the time, energy and money to pursue selfpub. But I gotta eat and my full-time job eats most of my time and energy. I make my peace with the possibility I may never get published traditionally. It helps that one of the major reason I want this (marketing) is a game of luck in tradpub anyway and there I a great chance I wouldn’t even get any.

On a positive note, I have seen friends get/become agents in the past two years. I see time and again that it is not completely hopeless. At least not for others.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere.

Publishing has a survivors bias and I’m just shouting out before it swallows me whole.

Afterword on short stories

I write a few of them. And I accepted from the get-go that subbing shorts is a lottery.

But it is overall easier. My heart is less invested in most of the short subs. I shrug the passes off more easily. It feels more like a hobby because there is no way in which selling shorts could be a noticeable contribution to my income.

I sold my first short to the third market I subbed to (the first always being Clarkesworld and Asimov’s because of their fast reply times). I have been shopping around other stories for over two years now. That’s just how selling shorts goes.

My Hive Mentor Experience 2023

Mentorships are a big thing and twitter made them an even bigger thing. I remember applying for them and crying when I didn’t get in. So this time I decided to do things differently.

You never stop learning about your craft, process and self. I have learnt a lot in the last year which enabled me to change my approach. And my expectations.

Today I know that once I put my heart’s love into the story through edits I am a lot less open to changes. I have been writing for over 25 years. Many things are my style, my way of writing, my voice. A lot of that is not marketable right now. I am AuDHD. It can be difficult to connect to my characters because of that. But I won’t have my lived experience invalidated by tradpub preferences.

This time, I chose a manuscript I had not yet edited my heart into. They always say to send a the ms in the best shape you can get it into. I could do that. But then you’d be running into walls with all improvement ideas. Let’s not do that.

The manuscript is decent. I needs editing and some work. I am ready to do that. I hope that outside help will show me bits I am blind to already. Ways to tread the line between being authentic and sellable. Not to mention advice for whatever path of publishing the mentor does.

I found a whole of 4 mentors who might take on a ms with as much porn as I put into mine. So selection wasn’t really that difficult. I chose somebody who knew what they’d get into with me (or so I hoped) and people who shared my marginalisation, baring that were from a marginalised group.

Did I think my ms had the best chances with those mentors? No.

Did I hope they’d chose me anyway? Also no.

During the selection period I heard back from exactly one mentor who had all the questions I’d have had in their place as well. I answered truthfully. Which didn’t increase my chances any but I have to be truthful in situations like that.

It was a good conversation. I got Christmas presents out of it.

Was I chosen?
Nope.

But I’m cool with it. I don’t think I make a good chosen one. I dislike the trope. Also, I mostly participated to shut up the FOMO gnome. Would it have been great to work on Horny WIP with a mentor? You bet! Will I get it done without one? *indistinct mumbling*

The lesson, if there is one to be had, is that it’s fine to do stuff to shut up the FOMO gnome.

See you next year in the application piles. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Nightsky of A Hundred Shattered Dreams

Querying is hard and we do what we can to stay afloat. Having a writing community is of utmost importance. I don’t know how anybody stands the pressure, consistent hits on the self-esteem and doubting your writing abilities without people to cheer and uplift one. I know I could not.

What else can you do?

I decided to have a visual (and pretty) representation of the passes that come in. I expected there to be many because fantasy is a tight market, and my stories are niche and not on trend. So I got myself a nice canvas and glittery stars and decided to count to 100 passes with it.

Lo and behold, my WIP:

A square white canvas that is partially covered up with black clour onto which glittering stars of many colours are glued. Where the canvas is unpainted, you an see a grid drawn on with pencil. . Two of the stars are bigger ans silver. One star has a tiny, handwritten name tag. The canvas is a little over half filled with stars.
Nightsky of a Hundred Shattered Dreams

The big silver stars are for agents that asked to see another manuscript, should I get one finished. Personalised passes got their name tacked onto the star. Yes, yes there is exactly one of them and no, that was not on the full I had out.

It includes the stars where I thought in retrospect that I dodged a bullet. There’s passes on there when I am in hindsight happy it was a pass because I don’t think it would have worked on a personal level.

Querying is highly subjective โ€“ from both sides. I have a little insight on querying from the other side and it’s not much easier for agents. They are flooded with good work each day every day and have to make the hard decisions on who they can successfully represent. The reasons for a pass a varied and many of them are not about the quality of the work.

Still, each star on this canvas represents a pass. If I added stars for each query, I don’t expect to hear back from I’d probably be close to done by now. But I am petty, and I have petty dreams for the future. In case I ever get an agent, my plan is to inform everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, who didn’t officially pass on my manuscript an update note.

Then I shall imagine, most incorrectly, I know, how those agents search their inboxes for a query I sent over a year ago. I started querying at the end of 2021 and the longer I’m in the trenches the funnier it gets for me. I know I’m petty. But Query Manager exists, and every agent is free to close for queries any given time.

I still have agents many on my query list. Most of them have been closed whenever I looked to send more queries. Some, I think, were actually closed since I started querying.

I don’t really have a point to make. Just โ€“ make sure you have your community. Find ways to keep track of your querying distress in a way that helps. Hype your friends when you can. I know sometimes it’s hard when you feel it’s never gonna be you.

I’m rooting for you!

The Unrelatable Character

Not so long ago I wrote books with protags that I kept getting the feedback on that they were not relatable. I cried. Because those characters were like me. In lieu of finding protagonists that were like me in SFF, I wrote them Only to be told that they were not making sense, nobody would be/think/act like that.

And that hurt immensely because while those characters are not me, the things pointed out often were things that made them more like me. Especially the way they experience and process the world and emotions. (Not that I haven’t been told that I’m doing that wrong before.)

I have learnt a lot about me and about publishing since then. Do I write character that are more relatable now?

Half body shot of David Tennant as Benedic from Much Ado About nothing. He is wearing a superman tee and holds a can of soda with a curly straw while he says: I think not.

But no I do not cry about it the way I did before any longer. I have learnt that the things that make my protagonists stand out (like a sore thumb), the things that make them like me, are traits of my autism ADHD.

And agents have been no more trained to interact and relate to autistic characters than normal people. Of course they have difficulties relating. What am I expecting?

Truth be told? I don’t even know any longer.

Of course I could just reign it in and make my protags palatable. I thought about that, naturally, since I want to get pubbed really bad. Right now, I’m like, fuck it! With each book, my protagonists get more autistic. Maybe being blatantly obvious about it will work better.

But I want to be unapologetic about who I am. And I don’t want to have to justify and explain why I am the way I am. If you need an explanation to accept that I like eating the same thing over and over and love to bury myself under 13kg of blankie at night โ€“ fuck you.

People are weird. People are different in all directions. I don’t need to know why. (Unless they ask for help being less weird. Which generally, we don’t.) You can’t tell me people can’t relate to my character because they are like me, when I related to characters that were not like me my whole life.

I am also certain that there are people out there just waiting for more autistic protags in SFF. We want to see ourselves in the main character. And as it takes one to know one? We know. Better believe we know. We see it, when it’s there. And we want it. Want more of it. (Please rec me SFF with autistic protags. ๐Ÿฅบ)

To circle back to writing unrelatable characters. I thought it was a me-problem, that I was incapable to write characters that readers can identify with. I have made it into a you-problem. I am writing characters you were not confronted with before. I am refusing to spoon-feed you the autistic experience. I am offering it to you in the form I experience the world (and it’s reactions to me).

I understand that tradpub doesn’t like it because it is new and untested. I understand that my voice is not seen as marketable. While some readers will easily identify with my characters, the majority is not used to them and will have to put some work into relating to them. Don’t worry. It gets easier over time. I’ve been doing it for over 40 years now and barely notice any longer.

This will not improve with more books. I am veering away from traditional, tightly-wound, fast-paced, three-act structure stories. I write what I want to read. And I know by the time tradpub deigns to publish some of that, I will be long dead.

Being relatable is a non-measure for a character. It is usually cut down to how much of a background you share with the person portrayed. And how much work you are willing to put into understanding them. I get now that for many people this amount is none. I feel I should be less surprised because it’s exactly what happens most times in life.

It was probably naive to think that things will be different in publishing just because it is allegedly a creative business looking for the fantastic. It’s still a business and what it looks for first and foremost is selling books.

My characters aren’t unrelatable. They are unprofitable.

When Plotting Isn’t About Things That Happen

I never really got the whole deal with plotting. Not just because I’m a pantser, maybe torch writer. I wondered why what happened in the story was so important and how it could come first. How did you know what you needed to happen?

I think I figured it out.

I start my stories with one protagonist and, so far, one main character. The goal of the book is to get the two from the constellation at the start to relate in a different constellation to each other at the end. Plus a few emotional ups and downs for the protag.

Have bad graphics:

Sava starts out emotionally bad, goes through ups and downs while getting close to Thanhan and end in a better headspace.

Salma starts out emotionally better, has deeper falls because she’s higher up but ends up with Samson and overall on a higher note.

If you look at the emotional graph from above, it’s just a line, going through the story. I’ll chose a straight line for the protag (because a token straight thing can’t hurt). They are the constant other characters are put in relation to. Because the second important thing is the protag’s relationship/constellation with the main character(s). This, so far, has also been easy because there was exactly one and the motion was getting the two closer:

A time line showing the story progress with a black dart going left to right at the bottom. Over it are a purple line for the protag and a dark green line for the mc. On the left the lines are fat apart, on the right the lines almost touch.

So on the one hand, I’m putting my protag through emotional states that usually correspond with shifts in how they relate to and/or feel about the main character(s). So far the latter was easy because it was mainly, separate at the beginning, close and committed in some way at the end.

This is my foundation for anything that happens. I cannot plot before I do not know what emotions and changes in constellation I want my protag to go through. What use is a quest for riches if that doesn’t move my characters into new constellations that will lead the emotional roller-coaster for the protag?

This became clear to me with the current ms. Poor Yles is going through a lot. I tried for a happy end but so far I am failing. The nice thing about this method is that I can start writing easily because the first motion of the emotional graph is always up. Protag gets something they can lose.

By the time I have set up things, characters have arrived. Now begins my work. I knew that without the happy end the emotional graph for Yles looks something like the above, only with a drop at the end instead of a final high.

There are drops and plateaus, each strengthening Yles in their belief they will make it. (But they wont.) So my “plotting” was taking the possible emotional hits and seeing how they’d bring the greatest pain. Which emotional turmoil would bring the desired effect on the emotions graph?

So I decided to go from small to big punches. Mam dies first because it is a difficult and distant relationship. Yles has their brother and a burgeoning love to absorb the pain. They get really close with their brother. Unfortunately, they are now caught in their mother’s dream, tasked with executing a life they never wanted. But for their brother and friend, Yles sure will.

They have friends, too and are generally on a good trajectory and open themself for more love, even if that one comes with pain packed. In Yles words: it’s better to cry at the end than not have you scent on my soul.

So I can slowly move out the brother and move in the second LI. At the moment when the brother is removed, Yles can fall back on their stable polycule. They can make it, even if it is hard. And they still have friends and a place to call home and improve.

Enter the removal of the second LI. Yles has only their first LI to fall back on and that is not enough. So they reach out to their friends. It helps a little, but catalyst friend takes the chance to push their agenda and cause the final disaster.

Emotional graph plunges. See you in hell.

This, this is my plot. This is what my story is all about. The events I make up to make this happen are secondary. Many will serve their purpose. It’s pretty much a game of luck about what I come up with from where my peeps are, their resources, the environment and what I need out of the events.

And this is what the emotional graph and constellations timeline look like for Yles. Characters come into play, get closer or leave the scene (line stops).

It’s more complicated for me because I have to align the above curve to the shifting constellations below and some of them are working opposite directions. Things need to compound and I am bad at maths.

So yeah. Plotting doesn’t make sense for me. Things Happening is not the underpinning of my stories. People Relating To Each Other is.

And that’s why I will always fail to plot a book from scratch. I need my emotions and constellations. If the events are not serving a higher purpose, they are useless.

The WIM Experience

Weclome to my end-of-experience ramble. ๐Ÿ˜…

I really loved free-styling last year’s WIM. I waffled about signing up because I was sure that if I did the official thing, nothing would work any more. In the end I did it anyway. (I argued that I could still drop out if I couldn’t whip up a shitass story in the first week.)

I already needed help from a friend (Thanks Erin Fulmer ๐Ÿ˜Š) signing up. Might have been a sign. Almost missed the prompt too.

I like the picture, don’t get me wrong. But last year, I took one look at the prompt and the story flowed out of my veins like liquid smoke. This year โ€“ not so much. I was work. I stared at that winter landscape and didn’t know what to do with it.

The first thing that came to me was the feeling of being cast immovable over the ocean, hanging in the sky frozen with this view. Nest step was thinking what could get you into that situation. And then my general, undirected anger with the obsession with protagonist’s agency kicked in.

I cobbled together something that might pass for a story. If you squint. With a lot of goodwill. The first draft ended up feeling like a short version of my current novel WIP. (Though is is definitely not. It’s just a brainsoup thing.)

The first draft ended up about 200 words too long. I also did some soft editing while stitching the pieces together. Well, almost together. I left a gap I didn’t care for and just put a scene changer in there. ๐Ÿคทโ€

#

Self-editing now. Where do I even start. I hate editing. I hate it with a passion. Short stories are especially difficult for me because when I write them down and get to finish them, usually I think they’re really neat already.

This time was no different. I like how it came out and dig the prose. Some polishing, sure, but big changes? I don’t see it.

That’s also why I signed up because if I can’t see where the story need editing, maybe somebody else can?

I did what I thought necessary and helpful and sent to my CP. Asked for help cutting stuff. I’ll see how it goes. Ngl, I am worried about the editor round because I don’t know if I can cut 200 words and still love the story. And I’d rather have a story I love than a pass with an editor.

#

The edits of my CP were stuck in the outbox so I got them a little later than I would have liked. Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time. ๐Ÿคทโ€

Some of the feedback was surprising. Mostly in a prolly takes one to know one or target audience kind. Others was not. I knew I could save up on A Lot of words if I cut down my pretty prose. Some of it showed that what I wanted to do worked โ€“ my CP just didn’t know what to do with it.

I’m a little sorry because I am currently ranting against prescriptive writing advice and publishing wisdom in my shorts. The Power Of is basically me giving the finger to the idea that a protagonist needs to have agency. The protag does shit nothing in the story.

I thought about all the questions. I like getting questions as feedback because it makes me think about what I want to achieve with my words and if it is working acceptably. Took some of the suggestions. Called stet on others. Didn’t cut many words.

Accordingly, I agonised about the length of my story and the edit looming on the horizon. The choice I had was to send a story that was too long and not get an editing eye on it. Or to cut it down into 1k which I didn’t care if it rolled into Satan’s asscrack.

Being nd doesn’t help. I have a thing about rules. I like them if they are clear and consistent and easy to understand. I understand when I do not follow. And I am ready to accept the consequences. I could not โ€“ could not โ€“ send a thousand words I care nothing about to my assigned editor.

I explained myself and sent my too long story with little hope.

#

I started off this part by dying. You can kill me with the smallest bit of kindness. I don’t expect it, I’ll never see it coming and it will always knock me over. So getting the edit anyways did just fine.

Unsurprising to anybody but me (again) it was also not a detailed take-down of how the story is trash and I should find something else to do with my time.

Not sure how fun it is to find out the noun you were certain is a noun isn’t really a noun after all. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Thanks for nothing Marilyn Manson. OK, I looked it up and it seems to be a noun after all. Maybe not a terribly common one. Anyway, stet. ๐Ÿ˜…

One of my writing quirks seems to be the casual use of “you” constructions out of the blue. Not sure where that will lead me but since this is a thing that’s followed me for years now I will look into it. One day that will be its own blog post, I guess.

Also not sure if the number of times I called a stet on the editor suggestions bodes well for my tradpub future. I understand where the changes come from. I get it. On the other hand, I have chosen the words and punctuation carefully. Does it read like a slightly disjointed, unrelated staccato? Yes, yes it does. I actually meant to do that.

It feels a little like moving the “only” around in “She believed him” and thinking any position would do the same thing. Even if they are all perfectly fine. Moments like that I have to take deep breaths and remember that this is my story and my vision. Yes, it can be made more palatable. Yes, it can be streamlined. But I wouldn’t think of editing the nose off Barbara Streisand either.

#

Overall, I really need to learn to trust my process more. I need believe my inner voice when it tells me something is fine (for a first draft), it’s FINE.

The story didn’t change much. I thought about the feedback. I have made changes based on it, even if sometimes those went a completely different direction than suggested. I leant hard into poetic language in this story and I understand that that doesn’t always work with common grammar. Common grammar is a sacrifice I am willing to make. ๐Ÿ˜…

And something I need to learn even more, something I need to lean into hard, is that I am writing for my own pleasure first and foremost. I am old and I am stubborn. I know what I like and since I rarely get it served in the writing world, I’ll create my own.

And that’s where it may stop. My own. For me and maybe a couple of people who get to see it in the process. And that’s okay. Because I still have it to make me happy. Maybe someday somebody else in a relevant position will get it and lets me show it to the world. Hope dies last.

Anyway, see you next year for WIM. ๐Ÿ˜„

OMG You’re Hilarious โ€“ Thanks I’m Autistic

โ€”no no bear with me. Those two a not only intricately intertwined, they are causative.

But, how, I hear you ask. Autistics don’t understand humour! ๐Ÿ™„

Well, firstly, fuck you.
And secondly, fuck off.

I know humour is hard. You know what else is hard? Socially acceptable replies. There’s so fucking many situations. It takes forever to learn them all. I am far from done, I tell you. Just recently, when I couldn’t fall back on a joke in a conversation I was floundering. Absolutely lost.

But in 80% of situations, you can get away with a joke. Make that 95% if you are willing to take a little awkwardness. (Not comparable with the Big Awkwardnessโ„ข resulting from a Bad reply.)

And you know what autistics are good at? CORRECT! Pattern recognition. And humour has a pattern. It takes some time to recognise. I don’t think I was very funny before I turned โ€“ oh, 30 at least.

It is a tentative estimate and I put it with me starting to write my hilarious PoV which I have now honed very much. But it started back then and I learnt a lot from the kind people commenting on my updates and telling where they laughed. I put that to good use.

And once I mastered the trick โ€“ it worked.

I rarely have to fear spouting a Bad Reply nowadays. If in doubt, joke it out.

The time before tended to be excruciating. Learning humour isn’t fun and having jokes fall flat or bite you in the ass hurts. It was, overall, easier than learning my replies to all possible social situations. (Full disclosure, I don’t think you can do that.)

I also don’t know how I did it in detail. Trail and error at least because I remember some ear-burning shame for really bad jokes that didn’t make it. The positive enforcement from humour that did land would have been double, though: getting around a social interaction I had no idea how to master plus being seen as a fun functional person.

I may or may have neglected my snooping out how to properly react skills. (I think I did.) I’m a waking joke-machine. And while I like it for obvious reasons, I am not sure how good it really is for me.

Also, maybe I am completely wrong about this and the gods just gifted me with a late-blooming talent for utter hilarity. ๐Ÿคทโ€

Connect-The-Dots

I am playing connect-the-dots
with the bruises on my skin
each a silent memory
tiny cuts of glaring red
like strokes of paint and splotches of ink
retelling the recent past on brittle skin
and my hands hurt
and my head hurts
and my heart is aching, too
but it’s alright
it is all fine
just a memory of you

Nobody Writes like You

Do you have those moments when you just feel like putting down the pen because it doesn’t even matter? The idea isn’t new, the characters resemble archetypes or worse, clichรฉs. The plot is just hobbling alone and who wants to read all that rambling inner monologue anyway?

Let me tell you a thing: Your story is going to be a unique work of art and only you can do it. Because there is nobody else in the whole wide world who writes as you do. Doubly.

Let me explain.

Firstly: nobody writes like you.

Ideas are a dozen a dime. They wait everywhere, thereโ€™s generators for them. The real work is fleshing them out and writing down the actual story. When you tell people ‘I write stories’ how often do they reply: ‘I have this great idea, why don’t you write that?’ Because, letโ€™s face it, the actual writing is the short end of the stick here.

Few people bother with it. Why put down the story in words when it is so perfect and shiny in your head already? Why fight the battle we do when the words don’t come out the way we want or expected? You do. And your voice is unique. The vampire romance in the zombie apocalypse you write has never been done like that before. Your struggling heroes have never been these exact people. Their thoughts and words are new.

The shy girl finding she has superpowers and finding her place in the ‘real’ world and the world of heroes is yours. She will not get her say if not for you. We will never know her. We will only know her sisters. That would be a shame.

You’re slaving over a fix-it fanfic for your fave characters? So what if others have used the same characters or even the same way to fix things? They could never use your words. Your take on things is your very own. So will your story. Nobody before you has taken the words you took and put them the way you did.

You are unique and so is your story. Don’t be discouraged by feeling like an impostor. There are many heroes’ journeys out there, a deluge of coming of age stories, uncountable romances and still people always want more. They want your take on things and they want your story.

Secondly: nobody writes like you.

And I mean your process. It is as unique as you are.

There is a lot of writing advice out there. It will tell you to outline, to plot, to research, to do three arcs, to do five, to use the door system, to know your characters every detail, to avoid adverbs, to avoid ‘said’ to use ‘said’ whenever possible. There a character sheets that tell you what you MUST know, manuals on how to force your story into a certain structure.

But nobody writes like you do. You can find a lot of helpful advice out there. It is still likely that none fits you 100%. You have your own process that works for you. Experimenting to find it is a great thing. Sticking to what you know will work for you can be difficult.

I am a 97% pantser. I do not outline. If I am lucky I have a few places to visit while my characters work their way from the beginning to the end. Yes, I do know the end when I start. It’s like going on a road trip. There’s many ways I can take to the destination. And no, I don’t have character sheets either. Do I know the colour of their eyes? Possibly. If it had relevance at some point. I write those bits down in my little wikis as I go.

I have spent years in anguish over my inability to craft a plot and killed several stories by trying to outline them. But I wanted to write stories and if there was a right way to do this, I needed to learn that, right?

Then one day in my thirties (don’t laugh, ok, well if you have to) I found a summer class by Brandon Sanderson. He took the time to explain several ways of getting an outline for a novel done. Then he said not everybody does it. There are published authors out there that donโ€™t use an outline. I was saved.

So look at what works for you, tweak it, poke it, make it work better. Your best practice can change over time โ€“ give it breathing space. And shrug off anybody who tries to tell you you’re doing it wrong. If at the end of the process you have a story, you are doing it right.

Nobody writes like you.

The Eye of the Beholder

My last blog entry really got me thinking. A lot of things came together, and I am still sorting through the wild knots. But what is becoming clear that I cannot just write my experiences and expect to be understood.

If I tell my story in the traditional way by showing, the neurotypical reader doesn’t see me. Accordingly, how can a neurotypical agent or editor? If I just tell my story without explanations, the NTs won’t get it. This is where the dreaded “cannot relate” comes into play.

This experience of having to explain myself in order to be understood correctly, also informs my reading habits. (And how I consume media in general.) If you show me a thing without explanation, I assume my initial reading will be off. And I have to manually calibrate to an NT reading. For me, the creator chose a way of displaying things that leaves unquestionable openings to change the reading later on.

I can never believe you are telling me the truth about a character or a situation if you only show it to me. Hence, every piece of media is chock full of subtext and possibilities. What is going on behind the layers of masking I am shown? How do the actions relate in a system of reference that is not neurotypical?

To apply that to Heater Girl โ€“ if the book only shows the events (girl under heater, doesn’t come out until left alone), NTs will assume a need for attention. NDs may also assume a need for attention because we are very good at learning what the “correct” reading of a situation is from NTs. (If we don’t, we die.)

Without the explanation form inside the girl under the heater, this reading will stand. Other actors my bring up the ND reading as an option, but our NT habits are either hard to break, or dangerous to break. Usually, we just don’t.

This is why I have to tell readers what is going on. For those who don’t know and for those who don’t believe it. Only by saying “this is what is happening here” can I be sure the events aren’t misread in a NT way. This is how I make sure you get to see what happens behind the layers of masking. And to do that, I have to break the accepted form of writing which says: “show, don’t tell” what’s going on.

Right now, it feels like a vicious cycle. I can write to expectation and won’t be seen. My being and existence is overwritten by NT readings and interpretations. Or I can write against expectation and not ben seen either because the manuscript goes nowhere. Because it is not written correctly. Because my characters are not relatable, make no sense.

I have no solution or even conclusion. This is how things are right now. I am invisible even in my own words.

Hamster who holds up one paw making a peace sign fades out into nothing.