A couple of months ago I wrote my original “What’s my niche?” post. At the time, I decided to ignore the advice to focus on a particular niche. But a couple of recent events have me rethinking this.
First, last month was National Autism Awareness Month, and I stumbled across several interesting blog posts aimed at raising awareness. These caught my attention because I am an Aspie (as I mention on my About page). Asperger’s is considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder, essentially a high-functioning form of Autism.
Second, when I agreed to participate in The Bookshelf Muse Random Act of Kindness BLITZ I had to decide what I was going to offer as my RAOK. In the end, I offered a free manuscript proofreading. I believe that it’s my Asperger’s that makes proofreading easy for me, even with my own writing (apparently this is difficult for most people, because they read what they intended to write, not what they actually wrote). I don’t have to search for mistakes, they just jump off the page at me, almost like they were highlighted (of course I don’t claim to be perfect at it, I do still occasionally miss things).
My Asperger’s brings various advantages and disadvantages to writing fiction. Aspies generally do well with activities where there is a clear set of rules, even if the rules are very complex (this is why so many Aspies end up in science, engineering and computer programming). So, for example, I rarely make grammatical mistakes (the sentence fragments and sentences ending in prepositions you see in my writing are explicit style choices, not mistakes).
On the other hand, Aspies have trouble with both interpreting and expressing body language (in fact, these social deficits are one of the defining characteristics of Asperger’s). But this could actually turn into an advantage in my writing, as I’ve had to learn a set of rules for this, in order to successfully interact socially with others. So these rules of body language (length of eye contact, body posture, position of feet) are explicit to me, rather than being automatic, making it easier for me to consciously use them when writing.
I know I have trouble with writing overly complex sentences, as the complexity doesn’t bother me. I have to force myself to break them down into simpler chunks for readability. Conciseness is also a definite weakness. The Wikipedia section on speech and language of Aspies is very informative. I can see realistic dialogue being a problem for me.
I also have other issues at play in addition to Asperger’s. I definitely have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies, though not serious enough to look into getting diagnosed or treated (I don’t repeatedly check that the doors are locked or the stove is turned off). This can be both a plus and a minus. On the plus side, when I decide to learn a new skill (such as the craft of writing), I pursue it obsessively, reading everything I can find on the subject, to quickly become knowledgeable about it. On the minus side, this can get in the way when it’s time to actually sit down and use the new skill.
Right now, I’ve overloaded myself with the number of writing-related blogs I’m following (around 60). This is interfering with doing any actual writing, so I have to force myself to streamline, but I’m afraid I might miss some essential tip.
Of course, no two Aspies experience the same set of abilities and deficits, so I have a unique take on all of this. I’m thinking to focus this blog more on my personal experience living with Asperger’s and comorbid conditions, and how I see them affecting my writing. This could be an interesting and somewhat unique niche. Of course, I reserve the right to continue posting other random musings.
Please leave a comment letting me know what you think about this.
- The indie aspie has arrived (theindieaspie.com)
- Purple Aspie to I Wish I Didn’t Have Asperger’s Syndrome (autismpositivity.wordpress.com)
- Poetic Musings of an Aspie Mind (ireport.cnn.com)
- Missouri Man Chronicles Life With Asperger’s (stlouis.cbslocal.com)
- MyAspieLife to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers': #AutismPositivity2012 (myaspielife.wordpress.com)
- Special Edition – Aspergers (education.com)
- To I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers – An Autism Positivity 2012 Post (hereirawr.wordpress.com)
- Angie Norheim (@get2bfit) to “I Wish I didn’t have Asperger’s” #AutismPositivity2012 (autismpositivity.wordpress.com)
- Welcome to Aspie Land…and what do I mean by neurotypical? (robertmoran.org)
- Spectrummy Mummy to ‘I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers': #AutismPositivity2012 (spectrummymummy.com)
- Wordless Wednesday 23rd May 2012…..Pick the aspies :) (wonderfullywired.wordpress.com)
- Neo letter to “I Wish I Didn’t Have Aspergers”: #AutismPositivity2012 (aspieside.com)
- Autistic blogger writes from the heart The Orange County Register (robertmoran.org)