A “MY ASPIE LIFE” UPDATE: The Editing Process

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There’s a good message in the caption below this picture, which is why I included it. Image courtesy of pinterest.com

 

IT’S BEEN A WHILE SINCE I’VE LET ANYONE IN ON HOW MY BOOK, “MY ASPIE LIFE”, DETAILING MY STRUGGLES WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME, HAS BEEN GOING, SO…

 

Last week I finally found the time to begin a task that needs to be done:

Editing the book that I’ve been working on, “MY ASPIE LIFE”.

Being that I finished my second draft of the book several months ago and was officially in manuscript form rather than handwritten in a notebook, I knew that editing was needed as the prevailing question, “How can I make this book better?” was and is the order of the day.

In essence, I was doing the same thing that editors at publishing companies do, save for the fact that was doing it instead of some random person.

Editing my book is very important to me precisely because it’s my book, not someone’s who doesn’t know me from Adam whose job is to cover something you’ve written with painstaking care in red pinstripes and tell you things like:

 

“This passage sucks.”

“That paragraph sucks.”

“This storyline sucks.”

“Your epilogue sucks.”

“You need to rewrite this whole chapter because it sucks.”

 

In my mind, who are they to say that about a book that they had nothing to do with?

I know that quite a few people will disagree with me on this, but the way I see it,

 

No one knows my book better than me.

 

And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to let some stranger rip me and what I’ve written apart.

I would rather fail at this endeavor while doing it completely on my own in the proverbial “Lone Wolf” fashion than succeed beyond my wildest dreams, in the form of “MY ASPIE LIFE” becoming a million-copy best seller – which I don’t expect it to be as while that would be great in a winning the lottery kind of way, that has never really been my goal – by having some stranger interfere in my writing process.

I’m sure I’m in the vast minority, but that’s how I see outside editors: interfering.

That’s probably my aspieness talking, in the sense that I don’t react to outside criticism that well, suicidal thoughts coming to me in the past in situations like that.

The bottom line is, I just feel that it’s best for me and everyone else if I edited the book myself.

Which is also why I’m eschewing sending the book to publishing companies and going the self-publishing route when “MY ASPIE LIFE” is finished; no way I’m going to have several dozen letters saying, “Thank you for submitting your manuscript to us. Unfortunately…” mailed to me as that would be a big waste of time, energy, and postage stamps.

Why suffer though all that humiliating rejection when I can simply publish it myself?

Contrary to what some may be thinking right about now, I am not so arrogant as to think that my manuscript is perfect and doesn’t need changing.

I completely understand that I’ll need to rewrite at least some chapters; get rid of paragraphs and change a lot of things that I’ve written such as names, as well as change the focus in certain chapters and passages that emphasize things that I no longer want to emphasize.

I know it’s a long process, but it’s more than worth it.

As such, I’m off to a pretty good start as I’ve edited the prologue and the first three chapters, and plan to continue this week.

I hope and pray that I’m successful, and that my book will generate at least a little interest, understanding, and compassion.

Because at the end of the day, that’s all I want.

 

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A common sight with neurotypicals as well as aspies; being left out of things due to the aspie’s differences, which is one of the things I cover in my book. Photo courtesy of additudemag.com

 

 

 

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THE GOOD POINTS OF HAVING ASPERGER’S SYNDROME (From a personal perspective)

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I like this picture, as it explains what those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder often go through. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com

 

MY PERSONAL BRIGHT SIDES TO HAVING THIS CONDITION 

 

For the first few years of me writing and blogging online, I wrote articles about my personal struggles with that high-functioning form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome.

I wrote about being thought of by many as a little strange at best and an insensitive, annoying dork who doesn’t realize that he is at worst, consequently being bullied and shunned during my formative years.

I have also detailed how being an “aspie” has contributed to depriving me of the ability to keep a job for any significant length of time, due to my inability to work well or cooperate with co-workers who I feel interact with me in a “You’re an inferior” manner, as well as certain authority figures whose interactions with me had led me to see them as totalitarian oppressors.

It became clear many years ago that having this condition has been a struggle for me, in that milestones such as being married to a woman I love with 2.5 kids in suburbia, a four-bedroom ranch house, and a career that’s fulfilling to the point where I can’t wait to get out of bed every morning to go to work has seemingly been too difficult a goal to attain, while most of my non-autistic peers were achieving that “American Dream” with relative ease.

However…

Surprisingly enough, it’s not my intention to write a “Poor Me” dirge as I have written enough of those over the years.

As much as having Asperger’s has not been fun from a social standpoint, I realized some time ago that there have been, and are, some benefits that I have had in having AS.

With Asperger’s manifesting itself in various ways with various people – I often like to say that people who are aspies are like something that I’ve never seen due to living in sunny Southern California all of my life; snowflakes, as no two are exactly alike – here are the ways that AS has benefitted me:

 

1.   At the risk of sounding arrogant, it has led me to being academically ahead of many of my schoolmates during my elementary and junior high school years. I was reading at age two, tested at an 11th grade level in grammar and reading comprehension in sixth grade, and for the majority of my K-12 years was put in gifted and advanced placement classes.

In short, I was one of those smart kids, getting more than my share of A’s for the first eight or nine years of my schooling.

2.   Like other aspies, I had a complete fixation with certain things and subjects during my early days, the subject being maps and globes in my case.

Because of that, I could tell you how to get somewhere in whichever city I lived in, as I can recall tracing street maps off of atlases and the backs of telephone books, staring at and memorizing them for hours on end.

I’m sure this aspie obsession of mine would have come in handy if my family and I got lost while traveling.

I also vividly recall, during my time as a young-un, other topics that I had a complete obsession with, on a level of about a twenty on a scale of one to ten,  Robin Hood and the Peanuts cartoon and comic strips completely holding my fancy during my single-digit age days.

Later on as an adult I became obsessed with things like college football (especially my alma mater’s team, UCLA), and Las Vegas, which I got hooked on during my first visit there in 2006.

Lately I have become fascinated with English Premier League soccer – or football, as they call it, going on different sites like Wikipedia.org to find out things about the different clubs like Manchester United, their rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton.

I don’t know if this knowledge has helped me in life, but I do know that it helps when I watch TV shows like “Jeopardy”; I have been told that I ought to try out for that long-running program.

3.   During my youth and adolescence, people told me that I had an incredible memory for various facts and events.

Even today, while my short-term memory sometimes goes on the blink, I periodically find myself remembering things that happened three and four decades ago without any provocation; it would be as if it happened yesterday.

When I later found that superior rote memory is one Asperger’s trait, I understood where that uncanny ability of mine came from.

4.  In a word: Creativity.

Which is another Aspie trait that I found that I had early on, in that it was somehow relatively easy for me to imagine different things and come up with ideas and stories; more so (I reckon) than the average neurotypical kid.

For instance, when I began to get obsessed with baseball at age ten, just for the fun of it I drew baseball stadiums and imagined myself playing in them; I particularly remember making a ballpark out of red Lego blocks and using it as a toy for a while.

Of course this aspie trait, and the others mentioned, were factors in some folks seeing me in a positive light, as a bright kid who was a bit further along than other kids my age as far as cognitive learning was concerned.

 

I’ll say one thing for these positive points of my aspieness…

For better or for worse, they have certainly contributed to the person I am now.

I suppose that has to count for something.

And I do appreciate being thought of as a unique individual by at least some of my peers and acquaintances, which is what I consider myself and which I’m forced to admit is a heck of a lot better than being seen as boring.

 

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What many young aspies – and older ones for that matter – often endure, being ridiculed and teased. This young lady should take heart that ten years (or so) from this pic, they’ll likely be calling her “Boss”. Photo courtesy of attributeattendant15.dtiblog.com

 

 

 

How People With Asperger’s Syndrome Should Be Treated

 

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Various perceptions of people with Asperger’s. Image courtesy of perceptionvsfact.com

 

FROM SOMEONE WHO IS ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

 

As many people know, Asperger’s Syndrome is a unique disability in that while the person who has this condition may look “normal”, his/her social and communication skills are crippled due to the different wiring in the brain than that of a “Neurotypical”.

Generally speaking, “Aspies” like me are often misunderstood and suffer from intolerance because of actions that largely can’t be helped, like saying or doing things that are socially inappropriate and having “meltdowns” when things get to be too much.

A few years ago I wrote an article on HubPages.com that listed five specific ways that folks on this spectrum should be treated.

While no one’s advocating any special treatment – I want to emphasize that – following these tips will go a long way to help the person with AS’s self-esteem, loneliness and depression being common side effects within this population.

Let’s go ahead and list these suggestions, pared down to four for this piece:

 

1.  DO NOT JUDGE.

As Temple Grandin’s mother told her in that 2010 HBO biopic about the livestock expert and high functioning autistic, “You are different, not less.”

Just because one’s an aspie who struggles with social skills and emotions, doesn’t mean they should be condemned by society.

It’s no different from if one’s a different race, religion, or sexual orientation.

2.  SEE AND EMPHASIZE AN ASPIE’S GOOD QUALITIES AND STRENGTHS

Or at least make an honest attempt to do so, though it may not necessarily be easy for some to do.

For example, if a person with AS has an obsession with animals and has an encyclopedic knowledge with them, they should be encouraged and hired to work in a pet store or volunteer at a veterinarian’s office.

Or if the Aspie can’t get enough of basketball but whose ability is the opposite of LeBron James’ , their talents can be put into a positive direction by putting him to work as a scorekeeper or stats person.

3.  DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

If a person with Asperger’s unintentionally says or does something inappropriate, which is the case roughly 98% of the time, rebuking him or her or harshly jumping on their case or being punitive is a bad idea.

Especially when the infraction is unintentional and minor in the grander scheme of things, i.e., not stealing from a store or committing a similar felony.

Instead, explaining to the aspie why what was done or said was socially wrong in a gentle and friendly manner is a much more preferable option.

Trust me, the aspie will appreciate it.

4.  TREAT AN ADULT WITH ASPERGER’S LIKE AN EQUAL HUMAN BEING WHEN ISSUES ARRIVE, NOT LIKE AN INFERIOR

In other words, talking down to an aspie like he or she is a stupid child is a terrible thing to do.

Of course no one, whether they are disabled or not, should ever be treated that way, but this holds particularly true for those with AS.

Personally, people talking down to me has happened quite a bit over the years, and it has brought me feeling of anger, depression and inferiority because in my aspie mind the one doing the “talking down” is seeing me as a dumb nothing.

Which hurts; sometimes to the point of having suicidal thoughts as it did in my case in the past.

 

When it comes down to it, these tips are essentially following the Golden Rule:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Which is quite the simple concept and is especially the case when it comes with interacting with folks with this high functioning autism.

By applying these tips to anyone with Asperger’s that you may know at school, in the workplace, or anywhere else, you may just find a new friend whose talents you find valuable and who you end up admiring.

And who in their right mind would not want that?

 

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Pretty self-explanatory, I think. Image courtesy of pinterest.com