1. Only you can write this.
2. You were born to write this.
3. People need you to write this.
4. The world is waiting for you to finish this.
5. One day, someone will tell you how much they needed to read this.
6. You can write anything you set your mind to.
7. This has a glimmer of brilliance in it.
8. The crappy words will fall away in revision.
9. My vision of the world matters.
10. I see people in a new way.
You don’t need to believe that this is going to be a bestseller. You don’t need to believe that you’re going to be a household name. You don’t need to believe that someday people will study your book in college. But you do have to work to counteract the relentless voice of defeat in your head that says:
1. No one will ever read this.
2. I am banging my head against the wall here.
3. Who am I to think I could be a writer?
4. My father/mother/partner is right. I should give up.
5. I don’t know how to do this. I never learned. No one ever taught me.
6. My voice doesn’t matter.
7. My experience is too different from anyone else’s to connect with readers.
8. I don’t know what happens next.
9. I feel too exposed. I want to hide and protect myself more.
10. I can’t expect anyone to pay me for this when they can get so many other things for free.
Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain: Healing our Biggest Health Problem, looks at the prevalence of chronic pain and how we treat it differently in men and women. (via oupacademic)
I’m horrified but not astonished.
Yeah if the researchers were astonished, that… says a lot about them.
Immediately ask if you can pitch your book.
Demand to know number amounts of the latest advances of certain books this agent/editor sold.
Complain about how many books in the industry you hate.
Tell insider stories about other editors/agents you dislike.
Ask about trends in the hopes you can change your book to meet those trends and sell it by tomorrow.
Give advice about what you think is going to trend next.
Dominate the conversation and refuse to listen to what they have to say.
Give them advice about health/nutrition because you’re trying to be “helpful.”
Ask if they look at previously self-published titles.
Ask about the conspiracy in the traditional publishing world.
1. Impaired non-verbal communication not caused by development delay or lowered IQ
Darcy seems completely unable to tell that Elizabeth hates him. She gives him tons of nonverbal clues about her feelings, but he is so oblivious that when she rebuffs his proposal, he has to ask for an explanation of what she dislikes about him. She ends up shouting at him that he is the last man he would ever marry in order to convince him.
2. Inadequate friendships
Mr. Darcy’s friendship with Mr. Bingley is surely one of the strangest male friendships in literature. I suppose most female readers simply think that we don’t get it because they are men and what makes men friends confuses us. But what do they have in common? The main thing that seems to make them friends is that Bingley needs a friend and so does Darcy. Darcy’s way of “managing” Bingley’s romance. Bingley is, if happier, as socially clueless as Darcy seems to be, since he has no idea that Jane likes him. Is he also aspie or simply modest like Jane is? Hard to tell.
3. Deficits in emotional reciprocity—failure to have back and forth conversations
Think about the dance where Mr. Darcy gets up the courage to ask Elizabeth, but then has no idea how to have a conversation with her on the dance floor. She tries to give him a few clues about what topics are allowed and how the conversation moves back and forth lightly. Mr. Darcy seems to think silence would be preferable. Those who know aspie people, how many times have you had conversations like this, trying to explain what seem to you the most basic rules of social interaction?
Not sure if this fits Mr. Darcy or not. Perhaps his letter writing to Georgiana might fit under this category. The book doesn’t get into Darcy’s life much, but I must say I would not be surprised to learn that Darcy has to have his clothing just so, to be comfortable, that he insists on certain music, lighting, and so on. He hates the country living of Elizabeth’s family and says that he finds them beneath him. But maybe he just doesn’t like unfamiliar things?
5. Strong resistance to change
When Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, he admits that he is going against his own judgment in falling in love with her. She is not part of his set and this will ruin all his imagined plans for the future. It makes him very uncomfortable and makes him appear really unpleasant and prickly. But that isn’t his character at all, as Elizabeth later learns. He does not seem like a man who is happy in London and tends to stay on his own estate as much as he possibly can.
6. Often picky eating
We don’t see Darcy eating much, but he seems to like his aunt’s style of dining and perhaps this is because she is as picky as he is. His cousin is sicky and seems to not eat much. My experience has been that aspies are often thinner than neurotypical people and just don’t seem to enjoy eating as much.
7. All-consuming interests
Darcy doesn’t seem to bore anyone about his latest video games or whatever the contemporary interests might have been for gentlemen of his age. The movies fill in a little more for us. Colin Firth’s Darcy seems obsessed with fencing and swimming? Also, he seems to spend a lot of time reading and thinking about his sister’s music. Also, what a properly educated woman is like.
8. Sensitivity to certain stimuli
Darcy clearly hates loud music, dancing, and crowds of people who are unfamiliar to him.
9. Odd speech (sometimes very precise)
You can imagine Darcy practicing his proposal speech to Elizabeth over and over again, can’t you? He is so precise in everything he does and has little sympathy for those whose speech is not as precise as his. The letter he writes to Elizabeth to put her straight about Mr. Wickham seems exactly the sort of thing an aspie would do, needing the truth above all things. And his refusal to lie and flatter Elizabeth in his proposal seems equally aspie. I hate lying and this seems to be one of those things that makes me lean toward diagnosing myself officially.
10. Poor physical coordination
Remember when Darcy says that he hates dancing? Maybe this is because he is actually not physically coordinated enough to do it well. The movies rarely show him as clumsy because they want him to be sexy, but Matthew McFadyen’s Darcy is a bit more that way on the dance floor than others. Poor Mr. Collins was probably a great dancer, really. He is so careful about those sorts of things.
At the happy ending, it seems clear that Mr. Darcy has not really changed at all. It’s just that Elizabeth has come to interpret his actions differently. He has always had a good heart, but has been unable to show it. With Elizabeth’s tutoring and with his own desire to prove to her that he’s not a snob, only that he doesn’t express himself well in many social situations, she changes her mind and agrees to marry him. But no one else thinks that Mr. Darcy has changed. The Bennet parents think he is as disagreeable as ever, and even Jane thinks so. An aspie hero doesn’t need to convince the whole world that he is sociall adept, however. He only needs to find a handful of people to interact with happily and successfully to lead a good life.
Frequently, authors will write a character into a dilemma in order to increase tension and stakes. The idea is that if they can make the reader invested enough in the story, the reader will have to keep reading and will enjoy the experience. The problem for me is that having a character describe a situation and then say that “there’s no other choice” to excuse away the action that followed makes me feel a) manipulated and b) like the author doesn’t understand the real world.
There are always, ALWAYS other choices than the choice that we make personally. Saying that there is no other choice in your own mind is simply a way to excuse yourself from responsibility for the consequences of your actions. If your daughter is kidnapped and you choose to make a bargain with the kidnapper to give away valuable information that might lead to the deaths of others, I’m sorry, but I don’t agree that you had “no other choice.” First of all, there is always the choice of simply refusing to deal with the kidnapper. You might feel horribly guilty. You might have to deal with the death of your daughter. But you will probably have to deal with that anyway. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice.
In addition, the person who is holding your daughter hostage should be the last person whose advice you take regarding what choices you have. A person who wants you to see life as a series of “no other choices” situations isn’t going to be someone I want to have in my head. Creative, intelligent people can usually think of at least a dozen choices in any given crisis. The more creative and intelligent they are, the more choices they can think of. It’s hard to be creative and intelligent under pressure, I get that. But nonetheless, you can think outside the box anytime you want.
Here’s the other thing: as an author, your job is to show the reader all the choices. You are supposed to be writing about a character who is creative and intelligent even in the worst of circumstances. If you can’t do that, you’re doing this writing gig wrong. Readers read in part because they want to be surprised. They want a different experience than the one they have in real life. They want to see people who are doing things they would never have thought to do. And guess what? You as the author have as long as you need to think up other great ways out of a given situation. You shouldn’t feel the pressure of a crisis because you’re not in it (unless you’re on deadline, but you put yourself there and that must be how you work well, right?).
So don’t tell me that your character “has no other choice.” Show your character thinking ahead, agreeing to something in a crisis, and then thinking of a way out of it. Don’t let your characters, unless they are truly evil, excuse themselves by saying that they were “forced” to do what they did.
beccabeccalee asked: I loved your blog about eating when you're hungry (I've had almost those exact experiences and conversations). I've decided to focus on training goals instead of losing weight. So far, I love it. Lately I've been doing my long runs on Sundays. But I'm also LDS, and Fast Sunday is coming up. Do you have any advice for fasting? I'm inclined to say that training is like being pregnant, and you can't really fast while doing it (especially on a long run day), but I still hate missing out. Any ideas?
I must admit that I have almost entirely given up fasting food at this point. I try to fast instead on technology and the internet as my spiritual offering. The problem for me isn’t the fasting itself, but the days-long migraine that follows. Also, I end up feeling like I fast every day because I never eat meat (which I actually enjoy) because I feel like environmentally, it is a way we as Americans take too much from the poor in other countries.
I remember when I started training for my first Ironman, where I did 6-8 hour workouts every Saturday, I asked a friend of mine who had trained for an Ironman how he managed fasting. He just looked at me like I was crazy. “You can’t fast while training for an Ironman,” he said. But I was pretty stubborn and decided that I could do it, at least partly. I tried to do a part fast even on my hardest days, and a full fast if I had an easier Saturday.
The results? I did poorly on my Ironman competition. I don’t know if it was because of fasting, but I think the problem is that you train to get stronger, to tear tissue and then rebuild it. If you don’t eat the day after a long workout, you are short-changing that process. You won’t rebuild as well, and you won’t be able to start the next week’s workout as strong as you should.
Of course, what you do religiously isn’t always going to be the best for your body. You are aiming for spiritual enlightenment, and I would never tell someone else how to achieve that. But look at the numbers for a moment:
Saturday, if I bike for 5 hours, I burn 2500 calories. If I run for another 3 hours, I burn another 2000 calories. If I am lucky, I may be able to take in 1000 calories while working out. I will hopefully get a really substantial dinner in on Saturday night. But honestly, my stomach often feels overworked after a workout, and I therefore can’t eat more than 800 calories. And of course, my body naturally burns 1500-2000 calories as a baseline anyway.
This means that I have burned 6000 calories for the day and only taken in 1800. So I am down 4200 calories for the day. If I eat nothing the next day, it is like I am asking my body to give up food for the equivalent of (at 1400 calories a day for a normal, inactive person) for 3 full days. How many people do you think would recommend you tell your body to do the equivalent of a 3-day fast? Most Mormons would say this was unhealthy to the level of dangerous.
Women, too, have been socialized to believe that the ultimate arbiters of their appearance are men, that anything they do with their appearance is or should be “for men.” That’s why women’s magazines trip over themselves to offer up advice on “what he wants to see you wearing” and “what men think of these current fashion trends” and “wow him with these new hairstyles.” While women can and do judge each other’s appearance harshly, many of us grew up being told by mothers, sisters, and female strangers that we’ll never “get a man” or “keep a man” unless we do X or lose some fat from Y, unless we moisturize//trim/shave/push up/hide/show/”flatter”/paint/dye/exfoliate/pierce/surgically alter this or that.
That’s also why when a woman wears revealing clothes, it’s okay, in our society, to assume that she’s “looking for attention” or that she’s a slut and wants to sleep with a bunch of guys. Because why else would a woman wear revealing clothes if not for the benefit of men and to communicate her sexual availability to them, right? It can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that it’s hot out or it’s more comfortable or she likes how she looks in it or everything else is in the laundry or she wants to get a tan or maybe she likes women and wants attention from them, not from men?
The result of all this is that many men, even kind and well-meaning men, believe, however subconsciously, that women’s bodies are for them. They are for them to look at, for them to pass judgment on, for them to bless with a compliment if they deign to do so. They are not for women to enjoy, take pride in, love, accept, explore, show off, or hide as they please. They are for men and their pleasure."
Hey if you’re interested, I have a new vlog I’m trying out, about my daily workout mistakes, experiences, lessons and just why I do what I do. I hope to inspire people to keep their own workout goals going, and also talk about what’s real, how you keep going, and the ugly side of being fit.
About ten years ago, before I became an Ironman triathlete, I was trying to lose weight. Why was I trying to lose weight? Pretty much the reasons most women want to lose weight. I had put on pounds through five pregnancies and was in my thirties and feeling like I had “let myself go.” I wanted to look like I had when I was seventeen, and to me that meant getting back down to the same number on the scale that I had been then. For me, that was 115.
I am only 5’2” tall, and I never thought of myself as thin when I was in high school. In fact, in junior high, I thought of myself as fat and I hated PE so much that I worked out a way never to do PE again in high school. I was tired of being the fat girl that no one wanted on their team. It is amusing to me as an adult to look back at my photos of myself in junior high and high school and realize that I looked in the mirror and often thought I was fat. Because all I wanted when I was 30 was to get back to the size I had been then.
I signed up for an on-line diet program that a relative recommended. This program was ingenious! Not only did it give you an approved number of calories per day for the weight goal you said you wanted to achieve. It also allowed you to log in what food you ate. And then it adjusted each day depending on what the scale told it you needed to do. So if you went up a pound, the program automatically told you you had to cut even more calories than you had previously planned on. I suppose it would do the reverse if you went down more weight than expected, but this never happened to me.
I will say that the relative who had recommended this program was a man. I think that most men have a completely different experience in trying to lose weight than women do. They always talk about numbers and how it’s all about calories in and calories out. It’s a simple mathematical calculation, right? Only it isn’t for most women. Our bodies work against us. Perhaps because we are working against them, trying to get ourselves to a weight that isn’t reasonable or rational. We don’t want to be “healthy.” We want to be “fabulous” and that means “thin beyond any reasonable expectation.”
I wanted to be 115 again, and I was at that point at about 135. This brilliant diet program also gave bonus calories if you exercised. I had always been the kind of person who enjoyed exercise and movement, so long as it wasn’t judged or coordinated by a team effort. I swam or ran most days because I liked it. I wasn’t interested at that time in being competitive about it. But I started exercising more so that I could “earn” more calories from my diet program. It all made sense, right? Calories in, calories out.
But it didn’t work for me. This is a familiar story to most women, I am sure. I carefully weighed and measured my food. I ate carrots and celery to fill my stomach. I ate salads for lunch with maybe a soup or a piece of bread on the side. One piece of bread. I ate oatmeal for breakfast because it was supposed to stay with you longer. I had tiny little portions of treats at the end of the day as a reward for hitting my calorie goal for the day. And it didn’t work. I lost a few pounds in the first few weeks, but then I hit a plateau. For nearly six weeks, I was counting calories, feeling hungry all the time, exercising like you’re supposed to, and I didn’t lose an ounce. In fact, I was pretty sure I was gaining weight.
I called my male relative and talked to him about the problem. He insisted that I just needed to weigh and measure more accurately. The laws of the universe do not change for one person, he insisted. Calories in, calories out. Maybe I needed to exercise more? And he told me that having three small tacos for dinner was just “too much.” I had to really make “sacrifices” if I wanted to lose weight.
The next day, I went running for six miles. I felt good in the mornings, and that was when I always exercised. But when I got home, my diet program had cut me down to about six hundred calories a day to reach my goal, because I hadn’t lost anything and my end date was coming up quickly. It was panicked and was trying to do whatever it could to help me reach my goal. It promised that if you followed it, you would reach your goal weight.
I ate my oatmeal and I was still starving. I tried to exercise self-control. I ate more carrots and celery. And then I lay on the couch and felt like I was going to die. I was pretty sure I could feel my body eating itself. It was crying out for food and I was doing everything I could to ignore it. I just needed to train it to get used to fewer calories. I needed to get used to feeling hungry all the time if I wanted the body I dreamed of. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, right?
In that moment of feeling like death, I thought about my future. I realized I could spend it wanting to be thinner than I am and being hungry every moment of my life. Or I could accept my body and my weight and move on. I could eat the food that my body said I needed to it, ignore the stupid diet program that thought it could outwit the pre-programmed weight my body wanted to be at. I could give up diets and eat well. And I chose to eat well.
I never logged into that diet program again. I do still have a lingering habit of counting calories, I admit. But I don’t let myself go hungry. Not ever. Hungry is your body telling you that you need to it. Calories in, calories out just doesn’t seem to work for me. My body works against it. I’m not saying the laws of the universe don’t apply. I’m just saying that your metabolism can change and you suddenly don’t burn calories that you would normally burn because your body doesn’t want to burn them. It feels threatened.
When I look in the mirror, I am sometimes happy with what I see. I sometimes still wish I could go back to my high school weight. I wish I had a flat stomach. I wish I didn’t have a sagging behind. Even after doing four full Ironman competitions and a hundred competitive races in the years since this diet disaster, I weight between 125 and 130. If I weighed less, would I be faster? Maybe. But I doubt it. Because I would be spending too much time on the couch, wishing I could eat to get up and really hit my intervals hard. I am what I am. I’m never going to be the “thin” I was in high school, which I thought was “fat.” But I am also never going to be hungry again.
This is what I learned: your body is never going to get used to being hungry. It’s just going to shut down and stop burning calories. And if things get really bad, it will send more and more drastic message to “EAT!” through more and more desperate hungry signals. And after that, it will shut down and take away all your energy and make you lie on a couch until you realize that food isn’t your enemy and that calories in, calories out doesn’t matter. What matters is calories in.