Friday 7 April 2017

30 Days of Autism Acceptance: Day 6


Day 6:     

Talk about music, art, writing, and other forms of creativity.  Are you a creative person?  What do you create?  Do you include autistic themes in your creations?  Does your creativity help you to deal with your autism?

I am definitely a creative person!

As I mentioned before, I write and one of my ambitions is to become a published author. I'm constantly writing! I haven't had anything published yet, mostly because I have so many different projects on the go that I haven't actually finished anything...! The novel I'm focusing on at the moment originated as an assessed 5,000-word creative piece for the Structures of Realism module on my MA programme; I got so into it that it was begging to be expanded on and developed into a full novel. It's taking quite a long time to come to fruition because it requires quite a bit of research into cults and fundamentalist Christianity, and I can only do the latter in short bursts. I've got another story that was the assessed creative piece for another module on my MA that's about an Aspie girl. That's much more on the back burner at the moment, though, while I work on the Christian-cult novel, so I'll come back to it at some point. I've got several others that I've worked on in the past and would like to work on and develop in the future when I get the opportunity.

When I'm not doing my own fiction I write fanfiction, mainly for Harry Potter and NCIS (as I mentioned the other day, I met one of my absolute best friends through HP fanfic!) I find it a really interesting area and have considered doing a PhD around it, something like the purposes of fanfic (I haven't thought it through in detail yet - there are 5 or 6 different things that I'd like to do a PhD in and one of the main reasons besides finance for me not doing one yet is that I simply can't decide which I want to do!) For me, it's an opportunity to explore characters and their worlds, possibilities, what-ifs and so on. I've got about 4 NCIS fics and 10 or 12 HP fics on the go at the moment. On top of my original fiction!

And even if I'm not actually writing, I'm thinking about writing - scenarios, characters, where a story is going, outcomes, etc. It can be great but it can also be really annoying if I've got something else I need to be getting on with, such as uni work! It might sound odd to someone who's not a writer, but the best way I can describe getting story ideas is that the characters announce themselves to me. The way in which they do this can be very telling - some barge their way in declaring that I will write their story and write it NOW, others slip in without me noticing and wait for a quiet moment to say, "Hi, I'm here", and yet others are suddenly there and have launched into their tale without checking that it's a convenient moment.

Besides the Aspie character from my uni work that I mentioned above, who was intentionally and consciously Aspie, I'm more and more coming to the conclusion that the main character in my boarding-school series is Aspie. I'd really like to go back to her and explore more about her, so at some point I will. Interestingly, my autistic characters tend to be female. It's not a conscious thing, I don't think, but with the overwhelming majority of autistic characters in fiction being male, it's long-overdue that we have the female autistic voice and experience represented. I didn't originally set out to do that but now I've sat back and thought about it, the more I want to expand that pool. For so long, I was certain I couldn't be Aspie solely on the basis that I was female (I knew females could be classically-autistic, but not Aspie) and we really need to do something to change that, because I can't be the only female Aspie to feel that. (That's another PhD idea - explore autistic characters in fiction, possibly zeroing in on female autistic characters, but that depends because there are so few of them it may not be viable.)

I've definitely found through my writing that I'm getting a better understanding of myself, and with the autistic aspects, of my neurology. It's not intentional, but I do think it's helping me be confident about who I am, the way I experience the world and so on. And accept and be proud of it. Now I have a drive to use that to reach other people. I don't want other autistic females to have to go through what I did, to think that they can't be autistic because they're "too high-functioning" and haven't seen any female autistic characters. That needs to change.

I'm also fairly musical, and I play the flute and clarinet. I was raised on English folk culture (music, Morris dancing and ceilidh dancing) so most of the music I've learned and I play is folk. I absolutely love it. I sometimes find that when I'm struggling, sometimes all I need to do is get out my flute (my primary instrument) and just blast out some tunes. It really does help! I'm hopeless at composition and so on, though, so I very much stick to playing rather than writing! I'm equally adept at playing from sheet music and by ear. A lot of classically-trained amateur musicians tend to balk at "no-dots" playing because it's so different from what they've been trained in, whereas folkies qill quite happily just slip into a session and pick up the tune by ear. A lot of top folk musicians can't even read music!

I do a bit of drawing and painting, but I'm not anything special in that regard. I mainly draw scenes and characters from either my fiction or other fiction (mainly books and a couple of TV shows, so fanart).

It does amuse me that for someone so visual, and who's also mildly dyslexic, my stongest area is in writing!

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