Linkspam Friday: August 31

I’m still getting used to my new desk arrangement, but I’m finally able to sit at my desk chair for more than half an hour. Excuse me while I sigh, for I’d love to own a body that doesn’t react to new positions with migraines and pain in places that aren’t chronic pain sites. A former psychologist of mine used to argue that I’ve got the advantage of having experienced much of the pain and limitations that come with aging early, as though experience is a consolation prize for not being able to spend my twenties and thirties doing things I should take for granted. In truth, all it does is make me wonder how much worse my life is going to be when I’m sixty if I can’t cope now.

I rather suspect that kind of reframing doesn’t well work on the autistic and anxious.

It breaks me, sometimes, to think on how little I knew about good-for-me psychology and how much difficulty, struggle and trauma it’s taken to even recognise what my needs are. I’ve spent a lifetime trying not to be autistic such that, two years in, I only have an incomplete sense of what doesn’t work. What does work is a grey space of vagary, an eternal question mark. I think that question underpins everything I write–that it’s all one long, rambling conversation between an autistic and their subconscious trying to figure out what’s needed from the world.

Post – My New Desk Arrangement: Here’s a photo of my desk, my new chair height, temporary footstool and test sideways mouse, along with a little rambling on the lack of conversation about office accessibility for tall/short people.

Header text: Aro Worlds: Connecting aro creatives and aro audiences. Header is in antique black type above an ornate divider.

Reblog – Tamora Pierce and Stories about Friendship: In which I recommend Tamora Pierce’s The Circle of Magic, The Circle Opens and The Protector of the Small as a YA fantasy take on centring friendship. Tamora Pierce was one of the linchpins of my teenage reading (along with Garth Nix, Isobelle Carmody, Patricia C. Wrede) in my very short gap between child and adult fiction, and it hurts me a bit now to see the unmistakable cis flavour of her feminism. (All the authors I’ve mentioned here, though, have that problem.) For stories that centre friendship and found family over romance, though, I still can’t go past these books.

(By the way, my habit of using “in which” for these posts is taken from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.)

Reblog – Meaningful Aro Representation: In which I add onto a post to talk about a long-running pet hate of mine, namely the way people (usually people not of the identity in question) consider a side character or incidental reference of a marginalised character praiseworthy “representation”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but if the character isn’t a narrating or central protagonist, please stop offering it up to the community as meaningful representation. It just isn’t.

Reblog – More Ace Community Frustration: In which I talk about a tendency I’ve seen in ace community conversations to casually remember that aromantics exist and how this feels like lip-service at best, which ends up a complaint about Keladry of Mindelan and the way the ace community shoves her into the “aro-ace” box even though Pierce’s Word of God labelling is inconsistent at best. I talk to @annataryx about it some more here; it’s been relieving to see other aro-specs support me on this.

Reblog – Even More Ace Community Frustration: In which I express my annoyance at #ownvoices aro representation being dismissed by an ace community blogger as nice to have as though the aros I have featured on my @aroworlds blog, creating said representation, don’t exist. Yes, it’s harder to find in the mainstream, but that only means we need to work harder to promote our talented indie and fan creators who are producing amazing works about aro-spec characters! Allies, don’t stop at expressing a desire for #ownvoices aro works: seek out and signal boost the folks currently creating it!

Ask – Writing Aro Characters Without Using “Aromantic”: In which, as someone who does this a lot, I talk about showing, telling, how setting and personality impact a character’s aromanticism, coining alternate in-universe terms, using the word in tags and blurbs, thinking of one’s audience when deciding what to tell and yes, you can use the word “aromantic” in a vaguely-European-Middle-Ages fantasy novel. All of these things I’ve had to explore and figure out myself over the past two years of writing, and I think much of this applies to most LGBTQIA+/queer identities. Please note that this does piece rely on your knowing something of the difference between showing and telling in fiction!

(I started writing Kit March two years ago. Ye gods I am slow. Or just physically disabled and mentally ill.)

Ask – Aro-Spec Writers Not Writing Aro Characters: In which I say that folks should write what calls to them before talking about the impact of amatonormativity in creative media and the peculiar difficulty of writing non-fluid characters as a fluid creator when our orientations don’t match. I haven’t spoken about this here, and I don’t see it discussed in general queer/writing spaces, but when I look at how I’ve written and discussed Darius, I can track my shifts in orientation by how I’ve regarded him. It’s hilariously contradictory, so I’m going to have him realise he’s abrosexual in The Performance Magician just to make sense of these shifts. It does explain, though, why I’ve had him throw his hands up in the air and say “complicated” every time sexuality is mentioned. Again, I was writing a fluid character before I knew I had a fluid sexual orientation, with the usual chaos and messiness.

Post – Aromantic Allosexual Attraction Isn’t What You Think It Is: Here I make an absolute hash of trying to make the point that allosexual attraction is unbelievably shaped by alloromantic attraction and the experiences alloromantics think are common to allo-aros are in fact quite rare. I’ll rewrite this post one day, because I went too far in generalising in the opposite direction while trying to say that the stereotypes bear absolutely no relationship to how I, an aro, experience sexual attraction. This said, we do need more conversations on allosexual aromantic experiences–I just need to do a better job of talking about it.

Header text reads "Stim Toy Box" in white text on a colourful, stripedfractal background. Two small bear images stand on either side of the text, one holding a fish and wearing a fishing hat, the other holding a pot and wearing a spinner cap. The edges of the banner mimic torn paper.

Review – Squishimals Squishy Plush, K-Mart: In which I review a Squishimals chick toy, a kind of wondrous hybrid of squishy and plush toy. If it weren’t scented, it’d be nearly perfect. It says something to how good this is that I’ve been willing to tolerate the artificial smell.

Review – Maze Pen, Smiggle: In which I review several maze pens from Smiggle’s clearance section. Of all the maze-style stim toys I’ve handled, these are the easiest for me to use. Unfortunately, they’re all a plain black ink, but I do like that they’re so much thicker than normal ball-point pens.

Header image comprising layer of two pieces of clear tape stuck in a row. Grey pencil text reading "writing and fiction" has been drawn over the tape, with a rainbow underline in crayon beneath the text.

Birds of a Feather: As mentioned last time, I did start writing the start of Ein’s story (a direct sequel to The King of Gears and Bone). So far, there isn’t a lot to say about it: Ein and Key traverse the Eyrie in the pre-dawn hours of the morning so he can ride unbothered by courtiers. My favourite bit is that he bribes one of the guards to keep this passage secret: Ein gives the guard necklaces and hair ribbons for his trans daughter, and the guard gives Ein his daughter’s old belt buckles and shirts. Even in a setting like Ihrne where trans people are only nominally accepted at best, I like the idea of trans people swapping the ephemera of the lives forced upon them to help each other live their authentic selves. I find it harder now to write stories where a character is entirely alone in their marginalisation; I have this need, even if only in small ways, to give them some sense of connection with others, be they autistic, trans or aromantic.

(I’m sure you realise that once Ein sits down with the Marches, he’ll be finding himself with the autistic companions he desperately needs. Who’ll also be non-binary trans and aromantic.)

Kit March: It’s been in my head that the sorcerer-magician Kit sends to Ein as tutor and companion is an autistic Darius rescued from the Kara in Blood and the Ravens–and that Darius has spent fifteen years of happening across autistics in the East, handing them every coin on his person and writing them letters of introduction to the College. While roughing out names and timelines, it occurred to me that this practice is terrible for Darius, now absent his main allistic support person and any sense of autistic community–which lead me back into the chapter I gave up in disgust a few months ago. I see Darius, like Tes and Ein, as a shape of what happens when you don’t have your own to support you, and Amelia’s job here is to get him to consider that the idea of stubbornly managing on his own is allistic nonsense she was supposed to have untaught him fifteen years ago.

(Oh, allistic society, how you do break us.)

I’ve reworked the chapter that stumped me and am now halfway through the next, so going back to write Ein solved an unrelated problem. It happens like that, sometimes; I think that’s the fun and mystery of writing.