This is a post that has been bubbling around in my head for a while. First it was something that bugged me, then it was something that worried me, then I decided I had to write about it. You may have guessed it by now, I’m going to write about trying to tell stories and publish books while living with Aspergers Syndrome.
When I told my husband I thought I had Asperger’s his response was “well, duh.”
My realisation stemmed from a conversation, then a great deal of research and personal reflection. No, I haven’t been formally diagnosed yet because I’m not certain that it would give me anything I don’t already have, or anything I need. Suffice it to say, the traits fit me like a glove, and the more I learn about Asperger’s Syndrome the more I realise how many of the things that I thought made me a horrible person are actually just the way I’m wired.
That’s not the point of this blog post though. I want to talk about being an author, and specifically an independent publisher, with Asperger’s.
I absolutely struggle to be in public, to make engagements and stick to them, to speak to people I don’t know. I am constantly on fire with crippling anxiety and self-doubt when in social situations. Yet, I need to speak to book store managers and owners, readers, fans (maybe in the future if I’m lucky enough to have some). I need to open up about myself, in person. I need to have a coherent conversation, off the cuff, with strangers, with a microphone in my hand, in front of an audience.
To be honest I’d rather curl up at the bottom of a well and eat peanut butter (smooth, not the crunchy one!) from the jar.
I have often wondered if it’s worth it. I doubt myself every day. I am passionate about writing, I have the stories to tell and the skills to do so fairly competently. Yet, I fall on my face when it comes to the part after the story is complete and I’m terrified that this fundamental difference in the way my brain is wired will forever hamstring my ability to be successful at this.
I see other indie publishers in my circles who are out there in the bookstores having a blast and killing it. Travelling overseas, speaking on TV and radio, and I’d love to have those opportunities and experience that type of success. But I know I’ll never seek it out and I’ll probably have a nervous breakdown if I do.
If I can’t wear “baggy” clothes, if I have to wear makeup, and avoid touching my face, I almost can’t breathe. Hell, I get so fixated on the barcode numbers on my shampoo and conditioner bottles that I sometimes get stuck in the shower trying to memorise them and recite them back to myself.
There are so many things that make this difficult and so many reasons to give up, yet I carry on.
I carry on because I have stories to tell. Because these stories burn inside me hotter than a steel furnace. They have to come out and, for whatever reason, I’m not happy to only tell my family. I want to share my stories with as many people as possible. It would sure be less torturous if I didn’t, but the most worthwhile things in life are seldom the easiest.
I’ve also found an incredible group of writers who, for some reason, tolerate my brash-bordering-on-rude personality and offer me encouragement and support. I have a boss who, despite all my weirdness, somehow puts up with me and reads everything I publish, buys copies for the whole office, and tells everyone to read my work. And I have a husband who encourages me to take time for myself, away from our rambunctious toddlers, to settle my mind because he understands that I’m not horrible or mean, I just struggle with sensory input. And a mom who is literally like having a second me because she is so incredibly, constantly there for me.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you also find yourself struggling with what seems like immovable obstacles, don’t give up.
Feed the Fuel the fire of your passion, gather good people around you who support, accept, and love you. And never, ever, give up. No matter what.