Yes, this is a rather eclectic set of topics and somewhat of a rambling post! Heh. But you’ll come to see how those topics are related. It started off as a footnote to my last blog post, but it grew and mushroomed and before I knew it, it was long enough to be its own post—and since I’m always in need of (and struggle with getting) new ideas for content for this blog, I jumped on it!
(To be perfectly honest, I’m not really into blogging; I force myself to do it, to maintain my platform, but I’m never itching with excitement when it’s time to whip up another post. This has nothing to do with you, my readers—I certainly appreciate you! I’d just rather be working on my second novel, or reading, instead of this. Although, actually, I did rather enjoy typing this particular post.)
So, here’s what started off as a footnote:
Sorry about the editing/proofreading nitpicks [in my posts about the books I just read]. I know from experience exactly how expensive editors are (if you’re self-published—no excuses, traditional presses!) and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with self-publishing in an unfair, swamped industry. I’ve read some brilliant self-published books. But some authors don’t want to go it completely alone, and that’s partly why I cofounded Thinklings. There aren’t enough publishers for all the great books out there, and the big presses—being overly focused on profit to the detriment of other areas—are afraid to take risks and branch out from publishing the same type of book over and over. Anyway, I wish all the self-published authors could afford great editors and proofreaders . . . and Thinklings would be making a lot more money if we charged our authors to edit their books, but we don’t/won’t because we think that’s unethical. (We refuse to compromise on quality, so we will never cut back on our editing. Even if it means publishing fewer books per year.) So . . . isn’t everyone in a nice little bind, no matter which route they go?? ;P
But I digress. About grammar, what I wanted to say is that I’m not trying to be mean or judgmental by pointing out mistakes. You’re not dumb if you’re not great at spelling or grammar. Also, I won’t ever leave a book a nasty Amazon/Goodreads review about its typos/editing, or anything else for that matter; I just won’t leave one at all if I thought a book was really bad. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. (And since I’m highly sensitive, I can’t bear to be mean to people like that. I actually can’t bring myself to give less than 3 stars.)
My “thing with grammar” is that it happens to be one of my autistic special interests. Yep, you read that right—I said autistic. I recently finished reading Unmasking Autism by Devon Price, and I very much relate to almost everything in the book. I have also been watching lots of videos made by autistic people about autism, and I found one that lists the current DSM criteria, which I do meet. (Not going to pursue a formal diagnosis because I read that that costs thousands of dollars! Also, I don’t really see the point in doing that.) So, yeah. Being autistic explains a LOT of things in my life—many of which I’ve kept hidden (“masked”), or think I have, since I was already severely bullied from K–12 and the last thing I needed was to give those jerks more reasons to taunt me or invite anyone else to join in. It also fits with how my colleagues call me a Walking Style Guide. It’s not like I’ve memorized the ginormous Chicago Manual of Style, or like I never miss any typos ever, but I do have a deep, fundamental understanding and intuition about how grammar works and how sentences are structured and the way words relate to each other. That and attention to detail are my “superpower” (and I make up for it by being very bad at a lot of other things . . . lol).
You know what? I really want to write an autistic protagonist after Melanie’s story is done. I don’t think Mel herself quite qualifies, and I won’t change her into one; that would be inauthentic and bad writing. But I want to portray someone who’s not quite as obviously or stereotypically on the spectrum as, say, Sheldon Cooper (love him, though) or Matthew from The Chosen (really love him!). I know in film/TV you have to make these traits more obvious, but in a book you can get inside characters’ heads a lot better and don’t have to rely on external clues. Just one of many, many amazing things about books!! <3
By the way, don’t let the rather emotional nature of my writing style fool you: I’m not just a big, soft sap who only feels “all the feels” and doesn’t think as much—I think way too much, and my brain is extremely logical and analytical. (And pretty darn literal, a classic autistic trait.) With all the feels added on top! So it’s a crazy place inside my head, and most of it never makes it out of my mouth. More so through my fingers. . . . Oh, and this reminds me: it’s an incorrect assumption that autistic people are all cold and unfeeling. Check out this girl whose YouTube channel I enjoy.
If you want to learn more about what autistic people really are like, read the book I mentioned above. It’s very enlightening! There’s also this YouTube channel and this one (and tons of others). There are a lot of hurtful stereotypes and misinformation about autism out there. It really helps to hear from autistic people themselves. No, we’re not all geniuses (or the opposite). No, we’re not all complete social failures. There’s no neat little box to put us all in, either; we’re all unique. Just like everyone else on the planet. Even though Unmasking Autism talks about it being a disability,* I’m not sure I can think of it that way, in regard to myself. What I mean is, I don’t want to develop a victim mentality (not that I think Price has one). Maybe I just have a tendency toward that, and I know I need to be careful in that area. I understand there are things I’m unable to do—but everyone has things they’re unable to do. We all need each other and have different strengths and weaknesses. I have learned to compensate for certain things, avoid certain situations, and I’m pretty good at “passing” as neurotypical, I think. In my 30-something years of life, I have learned by much observation how to, for instance, hold a “normal” conversation and what to ask people.
(It’s still a struggle to remember, when talking to people, that I should try and recall what I know about their life and then ask them, “Is your kid over his flu?” or whatever. It doesn’t come naturally. I hate small talk, and my inner world is very distracting! I’ve always wondered if I’m just a selfish person who doesn’t care about others, but I know I do care. Thus, it’s been so confusing!! But the pieces are falling into place since realizing I’m autistic. Now I see that certain types of conversation can be difficult because there’s a lot going on in my head and it’s hard to get past that to the outside world!)
All right, I feel like I could ramble on some more, but I have to get back to work and the “real world.” (“Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn’t want to live there” . . . love that song!)
See ya next month!
*How the author defines “disability” is different than you might think. I’ve returned the book to the library, but if I recall, Price talks about how certain things wouldn’t actually be disabilities if society would not call them weird/bad/etc. or discriminate against them. For example, if you have a harmless, amoral trait or behavior such as the habit of rocking back and forth in your chair, but society deems it “unacceptable,” then you are less likely to get hired if you rock or fidget during a job interview. If the stigma against that isn’t there in the interviewer’s mind, then it’s not a disadvantage or disability. (But if it is there, it makes you less able to get a good job that you might be perfectly qualified for, if you can’t control your movement.) It’s a social framework for thinking about disability. . . . This is probably why I can’t hold down a job in the outside world. I can sit still during an interview and give good answers to questions (with preparation), but it’s way too stressful dealing with the public when I do have the job. I about went out of my mind working customer service. Never, ever again . . . I suppose I could think of that as a disability I have. But instead I’d rather focus on the fact that God brought Thinklings into my life in perfect timing, which is not only a job I’m able to do, but I also love doing it. Now, if only people would start paying more attention to us. . . .
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Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.