Uncategorized

Thoughts on the past year

Hi everyone, as it’s that time of year when many people take a moment of reflection on the past year and think about the future, I thought I’d take a moment to do the same.

Last year was a mix of good and bad. On the personal side, I had a long bout of depression and autistic burnout, had frequent meltdowns and shutdowns, and suffered from intense imposter syndrome regarding my work. But I also learnt a lot about my neurology, began implementing coping strategies to reduce meltdowns and shutdowns (like using ear defenders, sunglasses and fidget toys to help with sensory overload and not doing too many tasks in one day) and celebrated a year and a half with my partner and, in November, actually moved in with him.

I also realised that I’ve achieved an awful lot with my writing, too:

  • I did my first edit of my YA sci-fi, Unsung.
  • I put together my short story collection, When The Bard Came Visiting, which comes out this February.
  • I re-edited my Half-Wizard Thordric trilogy to catch all the continuity errors that had slipped through.
  • I wrote a middle grade fantasy involving time travel.
  • I edited two poetry collections and submitted them to my publisher.
  • I did my first author visit at a school.
  • I did another edit on Unsung, and prepared a query and synopsis for submission to literary agents.
  • I put together a poetry pamphlet and a children’s poetry collection for submission to an independent press.
  • I wrote (and illustrated) a bespoke story that the client had won at a local school fair.

Writing it all down in a list like this gives it a lot of substance that I can’t ignore, because it wasn’t until I started writing this post that it fully hit me how much work I completed. When I think about how unmotivated I felt for most of the year, it’s incredible that I managed to do so much. I suppose it does make sense though, because no matter how hard writing can be, it’s the one thing I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do, and is the way in which I express myself best. I know a lot of the poetry I wrote released a lot of frustration and helped me to accept who I am, and writing fiction let me live an adventure I’d otherwise never know.

For this year, I haven’t made any strict resolutions. I simply intend to keep the same goals I always have: to keep writing, appreciate the small things and (this one is slightly newer) ask for help when I need it. I’m sure there will be times when I get distracted, overwhelmed and stubborn, but as long as it’s not too often, I know that’s all okay.

So, here’s to a new year full of self-care, appreciation for those who support us, and determination for whatever it is that we wish to achieve.

Poetry, Short Stories, Uncategorized

A letter about autism to my childhood self

Hey. Try not to panic. It’s you from the future, and

I’m writing to say don’t worry. Everything

that’s getting to you at the moment will make sense in the end.

 

Like the times you wait by the fence watching the other kids play

wondering when they’ll ask you to join in, and what you’ll do if it happens.

How you’re confused at the ease they interact, talking freely,

while you stand their silently, their shouts and screams of joy

overloading your ears – until the whistle blows and hits you like ice up your spine,

locking you into rigid limbs and wriggling insides. The hold authority has.

And those times you’re unsure what Miss is asking of you, fretting about if you’re doing your work right

because she didn’t go through it fully first. So you wait

and watch the other kids, trying to guess their thinking as they set straight to it

and hoping you can catch a glimpse of their work so you can copy.

Then there’s the time you have to go to the dentist during rehearsals for the school play. Should you put your hand up? Should you just stand?

You ask around in whispers, and everyone says put your hand up. You do, but the teachers don’t see, so then you do stand.

And get told off for not telling them to put you on the end of the row, even though your form tutor read the note at registration.

How about all those times the kids take advantage of your attempts to join in? Sharing

your cat’s cradle only for them to run off with it and claim to the others that it’s theirs,

or when a girl steals your toy and tells the dinner lady you stole it from her

and you can’t speak up properly so give in and let them keep it?

When they’re supposed to share textbooks

and drag them away so you can’t see?

Let’s not forget how you can’t co-ordinate your body in P.E,

or have so much trouble learning in class that you take your work home.

When you have your nose in a book at the doctor’s because you can’t deal with what is going on, and get called rude for not paying attention.

Then there’s your many attempts to get the timing right on Mario’s jump and fail at every try.

When you tell a stranger about how bad mum’s morning breath is

and don’t understand why she’s embarrassed. It’s fact, isn’t it?

Why you can’t understand why people play with dolls when you can just make up characters in your head.

 

Like I said. It’s all fine. There’s a reason for it, a simple explanation:

Autism.

A condition meaning

your brain is wired slightly differently to most people. You notice

things they never will while missing the unspoken signs

they give each other all the time.

It doesn’t mean you’re strange, weird, stupid or a freak.

It means you’re you,

and though you haven’t met them yet, there are others out there

who are wired in the same way

and know just how this feels.

 

So remember, you’re not alone. If you explain

your difficulties (and your strengths)

then eventually the world will start to understand.

 

P.S. In the meantime, try sunglasses and earmuffs — all year round.

Poetry

Sugar Coated

Behind that sweet exterior,

painted, crafted, structured:

a persona loud and clear.

 

I can see you.

See how your eyes do not reflect your

bright-red grin,

see how your long sleeves lift

to reveal silver filigree

around your wrists.

 

But whenever anyone asks

how you are,

you tell them you couldn’t be more fulfilled.

Everyone’s social media blares out their happiness –

so you have to keep up,

don’t you?

Poetry

Liquid Clay

You hand fits in mine so perfectly,

I wonder if they were cast from the same mould.

I can feel all of you

in even the slightest touch.

I know our thoughts of the future,

and I bathe in them every day, thinking

one day,

one day.

 

The leaves are browning; coppers, bronze, golds.

You are silver. A river of it,

a mirror

that I can swim in to the house we’ll have,

with a library,

a dojo,

a room of puzzles only we can solve.

 

Forwards or backwards,

past or future.

Not forgetting the sweet moments of present.

 

 

Poetry

Sliding Puzzles

When you slice an apple down the middle,

it splits clean into halves.

But the tang of its flavour can linger for hours.

 

When a room is reshuffled

to accommodate one person instead of two,

using the space to its full potential,

still the ghosts of memories surface

when you least expect it.

 

A promise of constant,

when what was needed to move the rain

was change,

however painful

the adjustment might have been.

Poetry

Calcified

You find it on the hearth, a tiny thing,

still a flutter beneath the calcified outer.

The warmth inside has faded to a simple prickle

that decreases every moment.

 

How did it get there, who cast it aside

to continue on their life without it,

hoping to never feel the pain and uncertainty that love can bring,

while forgetting how their view of everything

becomes just that little bit brighter for it?

 

You cradle it, unwanted heart,

hold it close to your own so it can share your heat,

build up a rhythm to restore its strength.

 

You guide it until it can beat on its own

and then let it make its way

back to the world

where it can find that reason to glow again.

Poetry

Mirror Pool

The tea in my cup is a mirror pool,

a pensive place of comfort

to gather my thoughts at the end of the day.

 

Why is it so hard to show passion?

To have dreams that are bursting from your body

invisible to everyone but you

and those select few

you trust and take into your heart,

who have no expectations

because they simply enjoy you

being you.

 

Why is it necessary

to fight the urge to fall into those few,

even though they’d catch you without hesitation,

and you’d easily do the same for them?

To see the look that says they will

hold you

if you need it, at any time,

and still not dive?

 

Why is love so difficult to express

in front of others,

to hold hands, touch nose to nose,

have that same solid certainty in our eyes?

None of the passers by care;

half

haven’t even noticed.

But there’s still this poisonous awkwardness

lingering in my bones.

 

I gather my thoughts at the end of the day,

reflecting in a pensive place of comfort:

the mirror pool in my teacup.

Poetry, Uncategorized

Thorn Mirror

Pricking my finger on the first thorn

of a young rose, I suck the bead of blood away

only to find that it’s already left a map on my hand,

pooling in my palm to create

a still mirror

reflecting someone I don’t recognise.

I shake my wrist, flecking the ground with red.

Seedlings sprout from the seeds,

readying their first thorns.

Poetry

Knitted heart

I hold the lines of my heart in my hands.

I stretch them out, red so you can’t miss them,

and splay my fingers so I make a cradle.

Into it you begin to pour yourself,

entangled in this pulsing, beating net

that is me and now you. One. Whole. Us.

Poetry

The Monologue

Can I touch you?

If I reach out, will I feel

your skin against my fingertips,

the loose strands of your hair

tickling my wrist?

Will your breath ebb out from your lips

in the cold air,

if you speak to me?

Are you real?

Really, truly real?

I’ve seen you so many times,

everyday, in fact,

and you always catch my gaze,

our eyes meeting

through the glass.

If I cut myself,

will you bleed too?

Don’t worry, I won’t.

I’m better now.

But I still need to know.

Tell me…please?