Life so far: growing up, autism, and 100 blog posts!

Years ago, I often thought about starting a blog. With my big dreams of becoming an author, it sounded like the sort of thing that all the high-flying writers are doing. Of course, it was just a crazy idea I had. Nothing serious. Right?

On receiving Blogging for Dummies for Christmas, I thought I’d at least show my appreciation by doing a quick summary of my world as a trial blog post. Now, four years and 99 posts later, my blog has definitely stood the test of time. It’s my way of reaching out, entertaining, and making my mark.

And this is my 100th post! So I thought I’d offer a much bigger summary of my life up until now.

Starting with Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday 17th March 1993 at 1.13pm. My parents joke about how typical it was of me to come out at lunchtime. To which I say, how many people do YOU know who were born in the middle of the day, week, month, and academic year, on their due date?

People sometimes ask me what I remember about Taiwan. Kind of awkward because my earliest memories include me and my (British) mum hiding from my (Taiwanese) dad after they had been fighting. But hey, I also remember playing with our pets, walking through mountain scenery, and my 4th birthday party. It wasn’t all bad!

Just after said birthday, my pregnant mother and I hastily headed my grandparents’ way – Cam, Gloucestershire. My sister was born. I started school, and was happily oblivious to my teachers telling Mum how weird I was and blaming it on bad parenting. Then we found a council flat.

A year later, while we were on holiday, my now-stepdad made his debut. From then on, he kept turning up on our doorstep. And we on his. This went on for about three years, until he and Mum married, and we invaded his house for good. Did I mention what a cute bridesmaid I was?

Now in Loughborough, I ended up at a school that was actually competent, and hey presto, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My response to the news? “Oh…can I have a piece of cheese?”

Secondary school pulled my head out of the clouds with a jolt. It was a scary world of social hierarchies, sport, and teachers with varying levels of empathy. I struggled with friendships. I struggled in classes. Most of all, I struggled to accept that autism was nothing to be ashamed of.

But gradually, I got involved with various social groups at church, and I finally started to make friends and open up about my difficulties. Meanwhile, I was studying animal care at Brooksby College. It comprised manhandling animals of every size and species, essays, poo, and overnight lambing. Pretty grim, but I passed with straight distinctions!

Because I wasn’t ready for uni afterwards, I did a couple of years of home study, and realised that my heart was in becoming an author, not a vet nurse. The second year proved eventful when my Grannie died of cancer, and I still regret not visiting more. But it was also the year I started at De Montfort University, studying Creative Writing and Journalism. It was challenging, and falling out with my friend when we tried living together was hard. That said, I learned more about writing than I ever had before, and I don’t regret it for a second.

And now, here I am, coming to the end of my Christian bookshop internship. It’s been a great year, with great people, and I can’t help wishing I had more time left. But few things in life are permanent, and as I reflect on my significant life events, I do wonder what the next one will be.

 

 

A few key changes

Hello readers, it’s been a while. You can thank any lecturer who has given me coursework for that. I’m not really doing a proper blog post here, I’m just explaining how I will be doing things from now on.

I’ve just got back from a Practical Journalism workshop in which we started planning how we are going to blog as part of our course. Having kept this blog for a year and three quarters now (!!!) my Practical Journalism lecturer has said I can continue with this blog, with just a few improvements. At least, I hope they will be improvements!

So I thought I’d try coming up with a particular theme for each month and blogging weekly on a related topic. At this point, can I add that if anyone has an idea for a theme they would particularly like me to cover, could they please speak up? Much appreciated. In the meantime, if anything irrelevant to the theme but still significant to me happens, then I will either save it for a theme it would be suited to, or blog about it outside my weekly blogging day.

One last thing. To save bombarding my Facebook friends with a link to everything I write online that ever gets published, I am going to include said links in my blog posts from now on. Not only do I continue to write at the Derby Telegraph when I have time, I now write regular online articles for Demon Media (DMU news) about Asperger’s/special needs based topics. Starting here: http://www.demon-media.co.uk/features/an-asperger-guide-to-starting-university/

Happy advent! 10647144_10152858789693814_7103841215039414110_n

Creative writing

I have always been better at expressing myself through writing. I know this because I relied very heavily on my written work and hardly at all on social status to get me through the terrifying world of school and college. Apparently this is often the way with the autistic brain. Which makes sense really.

I mean in face-to-face communication, we are expected to read the other person’s face, understand what they said (taking into account how they said it), remember to only display body language of the deeply interested variety and come up with a response that won’t cause them to look at you as if you are speaking Martian (*takes deep breath after ridiculously complicated sentence*). And all in the space of about a microsecond. When you think about it, you can see how all that could send a socially challenged brain into a mental overload. And my brain is not good at dealing with overload.

Writing, in my experience, is a slightly different kettle of fish. Rather than having to deal with the stresses of instantly having to respond to spontaneous verbal communication, you can play with words, add some, remove others etc to your heart’s content. My earliest memories of honing my writing date back to the days when I would regularly communicate with my mother by writing letters and posting them under her door.

Such messages included “Dear Mummy: are you sorry I hurt my knee?” Or “I am sorry the book got broken, maybe we can fix it somehow”. Or Mum’s personal favourite: “Dear Mummy, (my younger sister) is being a beast. I picked her up and put her down and she went out. Love Grace.” An essay on my mum, written in year one, read “My mummy is good and kind and pretty and firm when me and my sister are bad. Sometimes my sister is bad but I am good most of the time.” Pure literary genius.

Over these past few months, people have often told me, unprompted, how much they love my blog. Having been told how witty or articulate they think it is, I can only assume that my blogging alter ego is on a completely different wavelength to my face-to-face-in-the-real-world-persona. Frustratingly, said alter ego has been reluctant to make an appearance lately, leaving me in the lurch with writers block of the worst kind. And a touch of what feels like the internet equivalent of stage fright, as I dread the possibility of running out of interesting topics and boring my blog’s multiple readers.

My application for the Creative Writing and Journalism course at De Montfort University saw me racking my brains for how to creatively write about a box. I understand that not doing an English A level meant having to prove my worth by actually sending in some work, but really, did the topic have to be that ambiguous? Apparently it did, and so I ended up writing a short story about a memory box, and the happy/sad/poignant memories linked with its contents. If that wasn’t enough, I then had to write an in-depth analysis on the whole thing, followed by an essay on why I want to study Creative Writing with De Montfort. However, it seemed that my luck was in, as I was given an unconditional offer, and will be starting uni a week on Monday. Hooray!

And so will (hopefully) begin my writing career…