People who have read my journal at length will probably have one of two impressions of me. Possibly even a third one, which is an uneasy hybrid of the other two. It probably comes as a real surprise to scum like Autism Speaks or the entire passive community that I do, in fact, have a mother. Continue Reading
It has occurred to me that I do not write nearly enough (in my view at least) about autism, what place there is in this world for me as an autistic adult, or the way forward for the autistic. I will try to correct this as best I can, but as anyone with a WordPress account knows, one can also look at their own statistics and see for themselves which tags and categories on their site are getting the most reads. Presently, the Media category gets nearly twice as many reads as does Autistic Identity, and a hundred more than its nearest competitor, Social Studies. Continue Reading
In my previous post, I set out to talk about how real, physical problems in my day to day world were placing a huge burden upon my ability to write, even in this journal. Yes, I know how that sounds, given that I have been churning out words in this journal at a rate that even Stephen King might be impressed by. But I will level with you here: the flow of ideas to mind and the flow of words from fingers to text file suffers terribly when the mind is suffering any form of discomfort. Continue Reading
At present, the number of folk who have read my stories is a select few. And the question I get asked most once the questions about why I am not getting them published (which is a topic I am not going to talk about for a while) are done is simple. What are the stories really about?
When I was trying to kid myself that I could succeed at a university course relating to media and such, I had the great fortune to attend lectures by one Geoff Portmann. Portmann, for the vast majority out there who do not recognise the name, has worn several different hats on a number of different productions. The most important of which, for purposes of this discussion was as a director on eight episodes of the Australian government-funded television comedy Mother And Son. What he did on this job or any of the others he has done is not really important to this topic. What is important is a piece of advice that he dispensed concerning the structure of a story. As I have mentioned previously, you introduce characters, explain what they want to accomplish before the story’s end, explain what is getting in their way, and then describe how they overcome that.
What makes every story different is how one goes about that structure. The details, if you will. And the details is where every individual artist, author, musician, or filmmaker puts their personal touch on the material. As you will expect, this is also where the influences of the artist show up.
Although I do not follow the traditional rules of structure, the first novel in the arc I have been working on is an expression of what I will call the stimuli deficit. Every person, regardless of the situation they live in, receives stimulation to all of their senses of varying kinds. One of the first things you learn when you study psychology, especially from a storytelling research point of view, is that our intellect serves our emotions, not the other way around. Hence, much of our actions are concerned with the acquisition of positive stimuli. And in order to do that, we have to defeat sources of negative stimuli in our lives. This is a major reason why there is a correlation between mental illness, child abuse, and drug abuse (among other things). Everything we do, even work or hobbies, revolves around attaining this emotional state we refer to as pleasure or happiness, or preserving it. When we work, we plan in our heads what we are going to do with the proceeds. When we are sick, we think of what we will do when we are well again. When we are told we are going to die, we think hard about making the best use of what time we might have left.
If we were to look at every case of addiction, and I mean the broadest definition of addiction possible, I believe we would find many of the same things that motivate my writing. In essence, I am talking about a deficit between the positive stimuli and negative stimuli in my life. In my case, the difference is so enormous that every time I see a mole in my skin that does not look right to me, I start hallucinating it laughing at me, praying that it turns out to be a terminal cancer, and then recoiling when I remember how excruciating death from melanoma is reputed to be. It might sound cowardly to some to wish for death so fervently. Believe me, I get that. But when your only motivation to live for another day is to see your masculine parental entity dead, you start to feel you need to reexamine your life and whether it is worth the effort to preserve.
Command And Conquer: Tiberian Sun was not exactly a great game, but it did have far superior elements compared to anything that EA Games has come up with for the series on their own. One such element is the presence of a faction comprised of mutants who have begun to physically show the effects of excessive Tiberium exposure. On the surface, such effects come in the form of crystal formations in the skin, similar to the way skin appears to bubble and twist after the prolonged presence of a skin cancer. The reason this is relevant is because these mutants collectively refer to themselves as The Forgotten. That is a good name for anyone who is autistic and was born prior to 1990. The Forgotten. And whilst it sounds “cool” in context of a videogame where society has all but disappeared in the face of an environmental disaster the like of which even the lunatics in Greenpeace cannot imagine, being one of The Forgotten in a real-world situation is about as much fun as a skin cancer removal.
Feeling scared and lonely on top of all these things is a hell I would only wish on the like of Suzanne Wright. Think about it. How would you like to have your only conversations that do not make you feel suicidal occur online or over a videogame that you pay to play, and have constant skin cancer scares? Or be told that they want to cut a gland out of your face, with the potential side effect of leaving one side of your face permanently droopy? At least my proposed solution to the curebie problem in the form of armed combat might entail a relatively quick and painless death for me. I have seen brief flashes of the final months of life for a terminal cancer patient, in this case a woman who was married to one of my masculine parental entity’s brothers. There is a reason no child in the 1980s ever said anything like “when I grow up, I want to be dying of cancer”. And the world that Australia’s who-cares attitude towards the disadvantaged or outright disabled has made entails waiting around to die. Maybe an Australian (read this word in the most sarcastic, Ironside-like voice you can possibly imagine) thinks this an acceptable situation. As a man who believes a society should be judged by the manner in which it treats those who are not succeeding by conventional standards, I cannot think that way about it.
Is it all horror and terror? Well, no. Sometimes, when one looks back over their life and thinks about what it means, one thinks of the people who have inspired or moved them throughout their life. I have already mentioned many of the ones who did this indirectly through their work in the media. People like Paul Verhoeven or Michael Ironside, to name the best examples. But every once in a while, you meet people in person who also make you wonder if it is really possible to be something better. I wrote in a much earlier entry about neighbours I had with the family name Spencer. On the same token, if a gentleman by the name of Shane Curl who was working as a music teacher out of the Windsor area (what used to be the extreme edge of Western Sydney in some accounts) during the 1990s is out there reading this, I would welcome his contacting me, too.
I mentioned balance in my title for this post. Presently, lately, what I am vicariously balancing the woe with is my writing. It is a poor substitute, but it beats the hell out of having nothing at all. Which brings me to a question. If anyone who is reading this crap (I know there must be some of you out there) wish me to post anything I have written here, please leave commentary to that effect. I will see what I can do about it. For now, if you have gotten through this rambling, thanks for reading.
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When I create a character for use in my own work, merely starting the process begins a lot of asking of questions. Probably the first and foremost question when writing any story is “how important is this character going to be to the story?”. In the cases of characters like Linula and Ruby Amelda, the answer is exceedingly obvious. They are the entire basis for the story, and in one case, the story is going to be seen almost entirely through her eyes. The first of the stories in which Linula and Ruby appear is in part a meditation on the fact that the things that make us different (one is from an abusive, self-righteous asshole family, the other a loving successful commercialist family) are just as important, if not more so, than the things that make us the same. So constructing these two characters is a painstaking process in which many questions have to be asked and answered. Continue Reading
There are three basic types of scene other than exposition that are essential to any fantasy novel (or science fiction, or war, or spy, you name it). Battle scenes, if written well, can keep the writer going for as much as a tenth or even a fifth of the total length of their novel. But one of the big challenges of writing a battle scene, to put it simply, involves investing enough development in your characters to make your audience care about them. Exposition scenes are one way to make this investment. In fact, in the early stages of your story, they tend to be the only way. Explaining to your audience why it is that one character cares enough about the other to invest the time to get to know them helps the audience to care about that character enough to care when something significant happens to them. Telling the audience a story about why a character does what they do, and why they do it a certain way, is also a good way to deliver exposition. It is not enough to tell an audience that your veteran character is obsessive about washing himself. You have to explain that during, say for example the Battle Of The Sleeping Village, a particularly troublesome event resulted in him spending hours stuck inside the rotting carcass of a River Troll. Hence, he now washes his entire body in hospital-grade soap at least once after every time he spends a significant period of time outside of his home. Continue Reading
Even as I continue to write more of this asinine shit in this journal, I am often asked by others who have received samples of my storytelling how I go about creating characters. When I wrote the first of these articles, I did not really have much of a clear idea in my mind concerning where I wanted to go or what I wanted to achieve. I still do not, but I figure that if I give it another try, I might share something worth telling the readers out there.