May 24, 2006
I don’t much care for people and I’m not a big fan of reality. This is not to say that I dislike all people or live entirely in a world of fantasy. I love my wife, Christie, more than anyone or anything in the world. I also love my family and a small but loyal group of friends. I have a good job (populated by good friends) and, for the most part, I’m fairly grounded.
But I’m pretty sure I have Asperger Syndrome. I’ve never been officially diagnosed and, unless there’s some sort of court-ordered evaluation, I probably never will be. Still, Christie is convinced, and has convinced me, that I’m A.S. I’m low-level A.S., to be sure. Or is that high-level? Whatever it is, I’m high-functioning, but still exhibit most of the characteristics of someone with A.S.
I won’t go into all the details here. (If you don’t know about AS, you can look it up on Wikipedia which has a pretty good article on Asperger Syndrome.) Suffice it to say that, apart from a very small group of family and friends, I prefer to be alone, I don’t like to be touched and I hate social gatherings.
This, I think, is why I’m a writer.
Let me digress for a moment and say that I was inspired to write this partly because my friend Benjamin mentioned on his blog that a friend had challenged him to "Write about writing and your vision of yourself as a writer". That sounded like an interesting challenge and the rest of this rant just sort of flowed from that.
As I was saying..
I was a freshman or sophomore in high school when I decided that I wanted to be a novelist. I’m not sure when I’ll actually get the proper motivation and dedication to finish the three or four novels I’m working on and actually set about trying to sell them. But I still aspire to be a professional writer of fiction. I want to be Robert B. Parker or Christopher Moore—one of those writers who has a loyal fan base but retains a fair degree of anonymity.
When I close my eyes, I can see myself as a full-time writer: I’m not wildly successful, but I make enough money for Christie and me (along with a child or two and a plethora of dogs and cats) to live comfortably on a little farm that sits conveniently near several fast food restaurants and a Best Buy. I sit out on the back deck (well out of the sun to preserve the pastiness of my skin) with a laptop and a bottle of Beck’s Dark. Christie and the child/children are playing in the pool at the bottom of our yard. Opus the Chihuahua sleeps on the chair beside me. My agent has called, but I never answer the phone. If he wants to reach me, he’ll have to send an email and then, if I’m feeling particularly communicative, I’ll consider responding. Later, we’ll go out to a nice Italian dinner then over to the Theatre Centre where they’re premiering a production of my latest play in the Circle Theatre. It will get decent reviews but, hey, I can’t do anything about the quality of the acting, now can I?
I can picture myself as a writer so well, I think, because, deep down, that’s really what I am, even if I’m not particularly successful yet.
I’m a pretty good video editor (that’s my day job) and I’m not bad with graphics, but everything I do is done from the perspective of a writer. I listen to music as a writer, I watch TV as a writer. The writer in me overrides everything else. I’m always looking for flow and development and conflict and resolution. When I meet people, I find that I care very little for them as individuals yet I’m frequently fascinated by them as characters. For me, life is about the story and the conflict. I can appreciate the static beauty of life but only as background detail to set the mood and tone. I’m always writing in my head. If I could find a way to get what’s in my head onto paper in a coherent way, I’d be one of the most prolific writers of our time.
I leave meetings at work and, in my head, the clients are morphing and acting and reacting to new and interesting situations. I drive down the road and picture a thousand interactions for the people I pass on the road. I watch a movie and, regardless of whether I liked it or not, I develop sequels, prequels, alternate endings, and more. Everything leads to a story and then another story and so on until I finally have to fall asleep.
Reading is one of my great passions (other than writing and playing Age of Empires II, it might be my only great passion), but I think I read slowly because I get distracted by the art of the writing and the storytelling. I frequently pause to absorb the method and the style. That often leads to getting lost in my own variations, interpretations, and revisions.
Sometimes, I wish I could stop being a writer and just be a person. I wish I could, at least temporarily, silence the voices in my head that keep me awake long into the night. I wish I could meet someone and not imagine him or her as a Jedi or the scantily clad victim of a vampire from beyond time. Sometimes, I wish I could be normal.
But how fucking boring would that be?