Poetry, Uncategorized

A complete ramble, plus the first piece of writing I had published…

Hi everyone, I’m happy to say I’ve now finished the revamp, line edits and proofreading I was doing on one of my books and sent it off to my publisher.

I’d like to say it was a pleasant experience – and parts of it were, like getting acquainted with my characters and falling in love with the world all over again – but on the whole it made me question every aspect of my writing ability, particularly my grammar. I didn’t know it was possible to spend hours agonising over the correct usage of was and were (look up subjunctive mood, and you’ll see what I mean – technically the rule is fairly simple, but I have oodles of self-doubt), but apparently it is. Even after I sent the manuscript off (after reading and re-reading and fretting back and forth), I was still worried I’d got it wrong (‘it’ being the entirety of my grammar usage).

So my conclusion regarding having to do line edits and proofreading on my own work is that I never want to do it again. Hopefully, this was a one-off scenario and whatever is happening with the editing team at my publisher gets sorted, so I won’t have to. Still, I honestly felt like I was losing my mind.

The other side of it is that now I have finished, I’m not sure what to do with myself. Which is a little ridiculous because I know full well that I need a break, but for some reason my sense of self-worth and achievement is so thoroughly linked to my productivity that I can’t shake it. I think I was relieved for all of ten minutes after I hit send, then the overwhelming heaviness of ‘What am I going to do now?’ hit me and I spent a good few hours stimming and being lost in my thoughts.

Anyway, now I’ve expressed my thoughts on all that, it’s time for something a bit lighter. I thought I’d share with you the first piece of writing I had published, which is a poem I wrote when I was ten.

My primary school encouraged years five and six (I think it was both, but I’m not quite sure) to write a poem for an anthology called Poetic Voyages, created by an organisation called Young Writers. I think quite a few kids in my class submitted a poem, but only some were chosen. This is the cover of the one my poem is in, as there were separate anthologies put together for each region. It was published in 2002:

20200822_120845

On the back it says:

Young Writers was established in 1991 to encourage the reading and writing of poetry by young people.

Young Writers’ books nurture interest and confidence by giving young people the opportunity to see their work in print in a series of regional anthologies.

The books represent a generation of voices having their say on a wide range of themes from home and school to the environment and sport.

These anthologies are a showcase for the writing talent in schools today. 

And here’s a bit more info:

20200822_125753[1]

Lastly, here’s my actual poem in all its glory…

20200822_121006

(The note about whisky in the last line was supposed to be in brackets, but my pa said it’d look better without. I still think brackets would be more effective.)

It’s interesting that, considering the wide range of topics I could have written about, I chose to write about ghosts and school. Perhaps my ‘ghost’ was actually a metaphor for how terrified I was at school (if you haven’t seen my previous posts, I was severely bullied at school by one of my teachers, and quite a few of the kids too. It was not a happy time for me). That, or I’d just been watching Ghostbusters or The Frighteners. Who knows.

 

Poetry

Little ol’ stimtastic me

I want to search for myself in the grain,

stills can only tell so much

and I need more.

So back I roll past white noise

to the start of my fingers

tapping out the sheet music on invisible keys

while my eyes put up their barrier against the hum

and I go off into space.

There it is. The movement

I’m playing right now, recorded in the background

twenty-one years ago.

Uncategorized

Processing my autism diagnosis – watching home videos

So, as I mentioned in previous posts, I was diagnosed as autistic in January this year. So far I feel I’ve done a pretty good job of processing it and letting myself recover from all the strains of masking throughout my teenage years and well into adulthood. (For those who don’t know, masking is a way for neurodiverse people to act so as to fit in with society, but it’s intensely draining and goes against all our natural instincts, causing anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. Think pretending to be a movie character for your whole life without ever getting chance to be yourself for fear that you won’t be accepted/judged/bullied etc – I’ve pretty much made a vow that I’ll only mask if it’s absolutely necessary to preserve my future mental health.)

However, one of the things I wanted to do was to watch old videos my family took of me as I was growing up to see if I could see any autistic traits, mainly because I’ve seen lots of vlogs by families with autistic kids and wondered if I acted the same as they did. I knew my nan said I flapped my hands and made other stimming/self soothing gestures when I was less than a year old and that she suspected I was autistic (sadly, not much was known about girls on the spectrum in the 90s, so I was dismissed by the doctor, a story I know is only too familiar for women my age who are only now being diagnosed), and I remember feeling on the outside of a lot of social stuff like birthday parties and playgroups.

After speaking with my awesome mother, she dug around and found some tapes of past Christmases, birthdays and holidays for me to watch. When I put the first one on, within minutes of watching myself and noting my body language, where my focus was, how I spoke and interacted with people around me, I knew that the signs I’m autistic have always been painfully obvious, the only problem back then was that no-one knew what they were looking for.

And it hurts that something so obvious was missed. But seeing myself so natural was also liberating, because I’ve spent all these months post-diagnosis trying to relax myself and not worry about being judged enough to drop my mask, especially regarding stimming – knowing that how I stim now is the same as back then makes me feel that I’ve found myself again. I didn’t lose myself in the masks I’ve had to wear.

I cried because of this, and rocked and flapped and did all the things that help me express my emotions.

Of course there will still be times when I don’t feel my difficulties are valid, because there’s always going to be people who don’t understand, don’t have patience and some who just don’t care, not to mention my own thoughts of feeling completely fine until I have to be social, but this has definitely helped me to realise that though I might have hidden things well as a teen and adult, I have always had these difficulties.

And if I need more time to think when I’m asked a ‘simple’ question, need help doing everyday tasks, or if I need my ear defenders just to walk down the street because the world is so loud, it’s perfectly okay.

(Side note: along with my difficulties, there are many cool things about being autistic, and I’d never want to change how my brain comes up with all the crazy ideas I have.)

Anyway, that’s my ramble for today. Time for dinner.

Poetry

Safe-cracking

The elation is bubbling, it’s brewing inside,

wanting to escape my body, making my fingers want to twitch

and hands flap, like a great torrential tide.

I know I can release it,

no-one’s said I can’t.

Yet the stares and whispers from ghosts

keep the iron-grip I have on myself

as powerful as an attack with a lance.

But if I do it when no-one’s looking,

release the hold bit by bit,

perhaps I can let myself flick out this ball of energy

and have it leave me content and happy

without shaming myself to quit.

Poetry

Shock Waves

My body charges, electric triggers,

kinetic activity without consciousness.

A way to handle it all, a dance

both natural and strange. Magic to me,

psychotic to others, turning, winding, spinning.

 

Should I stop? Can I stop?

 

The energy might come out

as fire or lightning

if I force myself to slow.

Poetry

Neurodiverse

I can’t think

how many times I’ve had to hold my tongue to please.

How many times

I’ve become someone else

because at the time, it felt like an easier option

than having to explain why touch makes me uncomfortable,

why I can’t concentrate in social gatherings,

why I’ll always interact with animals

yet give other humans a wide berth.

There are some who I know would understand,

but others, regardless of explanation and education,

never will.

Poetry

Earthquake

A thousand conversations in my ears,

snatches of words, flashes of colour

and the whole ground shaking.

 

My ground

is turning, thrown up and down

with no chance to recover

before the world is split in two

and my heartbeat

is both silent and rampant.

 

Unable to process what’s going on,

detachment takes hold

 

forcing breath into my lungs

and oxygen to my head.

 

I look up and see the sky.

Calm, blue and trimmed

with a neat green beard.

 

Ice flows forward to crash

against my ankles,

bringing with it the lull of evening.

 

The voices, now tired, begin to settle.

even as the roar continues.

 

Eventually

they take the leap and merge

with the shadows. Dark.

Tied with the night.

Poetry

Puzzle Pieces

I’m standing here on this bridge watching you

as I attempt to explain

how I’ve been searching myself for

the traces

of puzzle shapes, so I can pluck each one

out from the whole and analyse it.

My traits; behaviours over the years.

When I look at them individually, it starts to make sense.

 

The way I am me is quite different to the way you are you.

 

When we approached this bridge,

it made you smile when I leapt onto it, running.

 

Placing myself here is hard, but it is the right thing to do.

I know you see me clearly

whether my pieces show or not.

But it would be nice, just for once, if others did the same.